No vehicles will be allowed in the city centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the government has announced.
This is part of the plan to decongest the city and attract investors. A pilot study on car-free days will start on Friday before a citywide rollout.
“The pilot stage is starting off with Moi Avenue, Harambee Avenue, Taifa Road, City Hall and Mama Ngina Street,” Public Works PS Paul Maringa said yesterday.
The full rollout will also cover Kenyatta Avenue, University Way, Moi Avenue, Haile Selassie, and finally Westlands.
Maringa said there will be dedicated parking in Uhuru Park and Railways Station. More than 5,000 stalls will be built during the pilot programme. The announcement came as Transport CS Macharia said the much-awaited Bus Rapid Transit will be commissioned next month.
He said the first lot – 64 buses – is ready for shipping. They have two doors at the right side, driver control safety gadgets and will use electronic fare payment systems.
Macharia regretted that the project had taken “far too long”. A partnership with six private sector organisations moved it closer to fruition, he said.
The six organisations are the Matatu Owners’ Association, the Matatu Welfare Association, the Association of Bus Operators, and the Association of Matatus in Nairobi. Others are the Mount Kenya Matatu Operators and the Matatu Transport Vehicles Association.
“The BRT system will be run in collaboration with the private sector and BRT buses will be owned and managed by special-purpose vehicles in which private PSV operators will be shareholders,” Macharia said at his Transcom House office.
Also present were Housing PS Charles Mwaura, Maringa and members of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) board.
Macharia said other initiatives meant to decongest the city include car free days and procurement of 11 diesel-modified units of trains that will later be increased to 20.
“As we prepare the rollout of the BRT system, the government continues to take active steps to alleviate traffic congestion in the Nairobi metropolitan area in partnership with the Nairobi government,” he said.
The diesel-modified units will be purchased alongside the buses.
The CS said a multi-sector team was in Spain to negotiate for the units.
The 64 buses will be shipped from South Africa. They will have detailed safety designs, which, the minister said, will not be compromised.
Macharia said a memorandum of understanding detailing the mandate of each party is yet to be signed. He disclosed that Nairobi alone requires 900 buses.
Counties under Namata – Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos and Murang’a – will be included in the decongestion efforts.
Macharia said the private sector will be behind the daily operations of the buses, while the government will provide policy directions.
The government also plans to stagger working hours so that workers come to the city at different hours.