Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Traffic Mayhem on 5th January

Yesterday, I needed to go to Westlands then to Woodley and back to Westlands. Traffic around the city was heavily congested..very much so in the Westlands area.

I believe two key factors contributed to this:

1. The matatu strike on Monday and Tuesday meant that virtually everyone who owned a car brought it out and used it for just about every trip they needed to make. (People often drive to work or to a parking lot then use public transport to commute into/out of town & run small errands)

2. The new years holiday fell on a weekend. As usual schools were opening on the first Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday of the year. Of significance this year is the fact that Monday 4th was also the first working day of the year. If the 1st is a Monday for example, schools would open on the 8th. Parents would have 2nd - 5th to do school shopping. This year, everyone rushed to do their school shopping on 4th and 5th January.

These two factors along with Kenyans' typical selfish driving habits combined to make traffic really bad all day on Monday and on Tuesday mid-morning and afternoon. However, the worst was to come on Tuesday evening.

HE the President returned to Nairobi from his annual holiday in Mombasa. Therefore, traffic had to be stopped to accommodate his motorcade. Now on the best of traffic days, the presidential motorcade causes a big disruption. On Tuesday evening, with traffic already very bad, the motorcade caused gridlock just about everywhere. It took me two and a half hours to get from The DO office on Waiyaki Way (by Safaricom Building) to Sarit Centre, a distance of maybe 2-3 kilometres.

Is this really acceptable? The president was flying into JKIA, the authorities knew what the traffic situation was. Would it have been so difficult to get a helicopter to ferry him from the airport to State House? Should this not now become standard procedure whenever possible for ferrying the president around town?


  1. That explains a lot. I was wondering why it took someone 4 hours to get from Mombasa road to Dagoretti.

  2. Don’t forget the obvious, the road network (number of lanes, number of roads, routes choices etc) remains pretty much the same while the number of cars and infrastructure (especially malls, office blocks and apartments) is fast increasing.

    To add insult to injury, there are NO new transport solutions (for instance city passenger rail transport) and NO parking solutions (ok there are a few private parking lots in the CBD but they are not enough. Further more with the recent improvements by the government some roads, especially those that are now designated one-way traffic, no longer have street parking). I have a feeling that if someone who was living in Kenya in the 1970s and left the country and only came back today for the first time since they left, they would not get lost, as much as there are new buildings all over, the roads are the same!

    Ideas like park and ride are great but they are considered too late when we are already experiencing severe traffic and congestion problems. What happened to planning? Such developments should be done incrementally in tandem with the population increase.

    Currently the government is simply reactionary. Think about it? Reflect on situations such as Mau, Floods etc. These situations could be have avoided or at least mitigated! The meteorological department for example had informed us in August of 2009 of the impending ‘el niño’ rains, why didn’t we improve/clear the roadside drainage? build national water harvesting dams etc?