Taming Nairobi roads

Anyone who lives in Nairobi very quickly comes into unpleasant contact with the Nairobi traffic chaos, especially when it rains.

Rain seems to terrify many motorists in the capital and I soon began to understand why when the violent seasonal storms began last month. I noticed that few of the roads in Nairobi have any sort of draining system.

Actually, few of the roads even deserve to be called roads. Even the main highways are covered in potholes which come in a range of sizes – from the three-footers you can swerve around with ease (so long as there is no on-coming traffic) to the bath-tub-sized craters you simply have to drive through and hope the suspension holds. When it rains heavily the pot-holes become impossible to spot.

Driving in Nairobi is unsafe for very many reasons and I would love to start a citizen’s campaign to improve the state of the city’s roads. This type of unplanned infrastructure is ruining our quality of life and making continued growth of the capital unsustainable in the short-term even.

So, I’ve started to do some research about this problem and came across a report that really helped to encourage me that it’s not all doom and gloomhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/2369220/Final-Report-Nairobi-City

Entitled “Nairobi Urban Transportation Challenges – Learning from Japan” By Zacharia Irungu King’ori. Senior Economist, Roads Development (MoRPW), Republic of Kenya. 2007.


Nairobi is the Capital and largest city of Kenya. It is popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun”. Founded in 1899, it is the most populous city in East Africa, with an estimated urban population of about 3.5 million. According to the 1999 census, 2,143,254 inhabitants lived within 684 KM sq. Nairobi is reputed to be the fastest growing city in the world after Guadaloupe, Mexico City (Mexico( and Maputo (Mozambique).

In 1973, Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy was formulated and gave the development directions of land use and transport for Nairobi City (NCC). No detailed plan and revision has been performed since.

The current traffic situation in Nairobi is as follows:

1. There are 7,500,000 person trips per day translating to 2.5 trips per person;

2. By purpose of trips, home bound trips command 46.5%, work 25%, school 9.8%, while other trips e.g hospital command 18.7%.

3. Trip composition by travel mode is;

  • Matatu – 29%
  • Bus – 3.7%
  • Private Car/Taxi/Truck – 15.3%
  • Two – Wheel mode – 1.2%
  • KR (Railway) – 0.4%
  • School or College Bus – 3.1%
  • Walking – 47%
  • Others – 0.2%

4.  Main trip flows are concentrated into the central area from WESTLANDS (west area of Nairobi) and KASARANI and EMBAKASI (Eastlands of Nairobi). A big chunk of the trips from west also emanate from Athi River and Kitengela areas which border Nairobi and have lately harboured a big proportion of people working or trading daily in Nairobi. From East, large trips also emanate from Kiambu and Thika areas.

5. Ninety three per cent (93%) of traffic at Nairobi boundary originate or arrive at Nairobi, while 7% is pass through traffic;

6. The dairy traffic volumes (vehicles per day) on both directions in the Nairobi roads are as follows;

  • Jogoo Road – 87,358
  • Outer Ring Road – 87,000
  • Thika Road – 69,289
  • Mombasa Road – 65,579
  • Haile Selassie Road – 56,005
  • Mbagathi Road – 51,697
  • Langata Road – 51, 338
  • Waiyaki Way – 49,902

7. Passenger cars command about 36% of Nairobi vehicle counts, while 23% are pick-up/4WD vehicles, 3% are buses and 27% matatus;

8. Occupancy rates are 2 in personal cars, 2 in pickup/4WD, 14 in matatus, 25 in mini buses, 34 in buses, 3 in light trucks, 2 in 2 & 3 axle trucks and 2 in articulated trucks;

9. About 70% of car users in Nairobi would change traffic mode if parking fees and fuel prices were increased by over 50%. However, 30% of the car users would not change even if parking fee was increased by 300% or fuel price increases by 100%.

10. If new public transport system (bus exclusive road, LRT) with faster average speed than car was introduced in Nairobi in future, 46% of car users would switch to new mode since fare would be reasonable at KShs 27(US$0.4). Resistance to change would be influenced by hate of walking and waiting; having baggage; uncomfortable public transport; and security fears.

11. The average travel speed on many of roads in Nairobi urbanized area is less  than 30km/h.


source: http://africaknows.com/mu/blog/2010/04/roads-of-nairobi/



About ngethenjoroge

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