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One of the completed Bus Rapid Transit station along Thika Super Highway. The project is aimed at providing reliable and efficient transport. Photo Courtesy


The majority of commuters using public service transport services within Nairobi and satellite towns have had sad stories of their experiences.

They are verbally and physically abused, robbed of money, personal items and even hijacked.

Violence is meted on women, with some sexually harassed and raped. 

The unreliability of public service vehicles has seen many people rely on private vehicles.

Data from the economic survey 2021 showed that the number of driving licenses issued doubled from 140,279 in 2019 to 303,278 last year.

The sharp increase is partly attributed to sensitisation and mass enrolment of smart driving licenses in various counties carried out by the National Transport and Safety Authority.

The number of newly registered motor vehicles however decreased by 14.2 per cent from 109,751 units in 2019 to 94,128 units last year.

The highest decline was recorded for minibuses and matatus at 43.9 per cent from 1,932 units in 2019 to 1,084 units last year.

Panel vans and pickups reduced by 40.5 per cent to 6,065 units, buses and coaches decreased by 32.8 per cent to 900 units last year.

Other significant reductions in new registrations were recorded for saloon cars and station wagons that declined by 22.2 per cent and 20.1 per cent to 7,754 units and 57,962 units last year.

Traffic jams within the city are estimated to cost the country Sh2 billion annually.

It is estimated that Nairobi residents spend 55 minutes in traffic.

Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority last week Thursday said the anticipated Bus Rapid Transit is expected to greatly transform the city.

“It will provide an efficient system for the ever-growing population,” Namata chief executive Francis Gitau said.

The government has allocated Sh700 million for the construction of the project.

Gitau said they are hopeful more money will be coming from other donors.

Some of the features of the new BRT include the right of way lane, coloured pavement, dedicated BRT lane and flyovers.

It also includes the level station, pre-paid fare collection, information, footbridges, sidewalks, pedestrian crossing, facilities for persons living with disabilities, parking lot among others.

Namata was established by President Uhuru Kenyatta on February 9, 2017.

The authority covers Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos and Murang’a to establish an integrated, efficient, effective and sustainable public transport system.

To decongest the city, Namata has gazetted five BRT lines which are in different phases of development.

Gitau revealed that the feasibility study for Line 1, which is called Ndovu, is under review while Line 2, called Simba, is under construction.

Line two runs along the Thika Super Highway.

“Detailed design for Line 3 has been submitted while finance is being sought for Line 4,” Gitau said.

He said funding for Line 5 has been obtained from Korea Exim Bank.

On February 26, 2019, Transport CS James Macharia gazetted transport corridors in the city.

BRT Line 1 runs from Limuru-Kangemi-CBD-Imara Daima-Athi River and Kitengela.

Line 2 runs from Rongai-Bomas-Langata Road-CBD-Ruiru-Thika and Kenol.

Line 3, called Chui, runs from Tala-Njiru-Dandora (Juja Road)-CBD-Show Ground (Ngong Road) and Ngong.

Line 4, called Kifaru, is comprised of East and West.

The East one runs from Mama Lucy Hospital-Donholm (Jogoo Road)-CBD.

The West one runs from CBD- T Mall-Bomas-Karen and Kikuyu.

BRT Line 5, which is also called Nyati, traverses Ridgeways (Kiambu Road)-Balozi (Allsops) and Imara Daima.

Macharia also gazetted commuter rail networks which include Nairobi-Limuru town, Nairobi-Ngong, Nairobi-Kenol, Muranga, Nairobi-Kiambu, Nairobi-Ruai, Nairobi-JKIA and Nairobi-Konza.

BRT and commuter rail will be integrated.

Gitau said the project will be a game-changer in the reduction of both vehicles and human traffic jams in the city.

Passengers will save time, money and enjoy much-needed comfort on their way to and from the city centre.

The CEO said the commuter rail is part of the master plan of an integrated commuter system within the city and its environs.

It also comprises the Bus Rapid Transit, monorail and underground rail.

Some of the infrastructure and amenities are still under installation. Recently, Kenya Railways imported high capacity Diesel Mobile Units.

Operations have started in Embakasi, Pipeline and Donholm railway. The three railway stations are among the 10 stations the KR has upgraded and constructed.

The others are at Umoja, Kibera, Thika, Mbagathi Way, Kenyatta and Strathmore universities, Kitengela and Thogoto.

Park and ride services will be available at the designated stops. The motorists will park at the stations and board the City Rail System buses to and from the city.

“A BRT station will be done at Nairobi central station which will be a transfer station,” Gitau said.

“There will be an intermodal facility that will help people using the bus service access rail services and those using the rail service to access the bus services.” 

He said the first route from Kasarani to the city is taking shape with the corridor demarcation being between 60 and 70 per cent complete.

Gitau said the buses will be electric ones to attract opportunities for green bonds.

He said the move will help curb carbon emissions. - GILBERT KOECH, The Star


DAR ES SALAAM, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Tanzania-Zambia railway recorded a 19.4 percent rise in freight traffic in the 2020/2021 financial year ended June 30, 2021, said the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority, the operator, in a statement Thursday.

The statement, issued at the end of the 117th Board of Directors meeting of the operator, with the headquarters in Dar es Salaam of Tanzania, said that the railway saw an improvement of 26.7 percent in overall revenue earnings in the 2020/2021 financial year, when compared to the previous financial year that ended on June 30, 2020.

During the 2020/2021 financial year, the railway line transported 217,661 metric tons of freight, compared to 182,302 metric tons transported in the 2019/2020 financial year.

Despite limitations on the movement of people globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall passenger traffic transported was 2,760,493 passengers during the 2020/2021 financial year, down 0.66 percent from the previous financial year when 2,778,708 passengers were transported.

According to the statement, the overall revenue earnings for the 2019/2020 financial year were 24.511 million U.S. dollars.

The Tanzania-Zambia railway line was constructed as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975 through an interest-free loan from China, with commercial operations starting in July 1976. It covers 1,860 km from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. - Xinhua

Smart Driving License revolutionizes management and security of Kenya’s transport sector. Photo: Sambrian Mbaabu


Getting a driving license (DL) in Kenya these days is like a walk in the park. After booking a driving test online and passing the test at one of the driving test centers across the country, the next step is to apply for a license online. In just a few days, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will issue a Smart Driving License that can be collected from decentralized centers nationwide.

New drivers are excited to have the power to drive around with a secure plastic card that fits in a wallet, just like a bank card. The new license embraces international standards in driver licensing and identification. It is processed on the Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS), an interactive digital platform that NTSA launched in 2016.

The TIMS, funded under the World Bank-supported Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project, has simplified the application, processing, and issuance of driving licenses. Applicants can submit requests from their homes, offices, cyber cafes -- even mobile phones -- anywhere in Kenya.

The journey to this transformation has not been an easy one. Until five years ago, the driving license system was manual and involved lots of paperwork. Prospective drivers were frustrated by a long and cumbersome process that triggered opportunities for underhand deals.

It all started with booking a driving test at a designated traffic police station. In Nairobi, tests were centralized at three police stations: Ruaraka, Jogoo Road and Karen.

After passing a driving test conducted by the Kenya Police, the next step was to apply for a license at Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) Road Transport Department, which was initially housed at Nyayo House then moved to Times Tower in Nairobi’s city center. KRA would issue an interim license as the process of acquiring the official red booklet DL commenced.

Getting the red booklet could take from six months to even a year, and that was with vigorous follow-up. The multi-page DL was renewed annually or for a period up to three years, and each renewal slip was glued to the inside of the booklet. The risk of losing or misplacing the slip was high.

The DL processing center was characteristic of a chaotic marketplace. A typical day was spent in long, winding lines, with tired-looking tellers processing manual applications and rowdy, frustrated clients -- some shouting to be heard. Often, the manual files submitted by applicants would go missing due to poor record management.

Digitizing the process ended the grief of DL holders. Now they carry only a card, which can easily be verified on the spot by traffic enforcement officers through the NTSA mobile application.

The Smart DL has contributed to better management and security of Kenya’s transport system, which serves as the backbone of trade and investment for Kenya and the East African community.

Installed with a chip that holds the driver’s information, the new license also supports the implementation of a demerit point system and can facilitate the payment of instant fines. The demerit point system is designed to weed out careless drivers and enhance road safety. NTSA estimates that 5 million registered drivers in Kenya will be hosted on its digital platform when the government retires the red booklet DL.  

The government’s investment in technology was timely, considering the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in the provision of services that rely on manual processing. It has enabled Kenyans to continue accessing services through virtual connections. 

The rapid uptake of the Smart DL demonstrates how collaboration between the government and the World Bank is helping improve the quality of transport services. World Bank funding and technical assistance helped Kenya find solutions that have enhanced the contribution of the transport sector to Kenya’s economic development.

The experience in Kenya has demonstrated how digitizing processes and making organizational changes can enhance government services, save money and improve citizens’ lives. Digitized services enable the government to become more efficient and resilient in meeting its people’s expectations, even with limited resources. - Josphat Sasia, World Bank

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