Nairobi – 31 October 2018: This year’s World Cities Day aims to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation, enhance cooperation among countries and cities in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanisation, and contribute to sustainable urban development under the theme, Better Cities, Better Life.
In Kenya, the European Union and the government through the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) have today celebrated the day by launching Muratina Street in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area. The local event has sought to create public awareness on the importance of improving public transport facilities to help in building sustainable and resilient cities.
Speaking at the launch, EU Ambassador to Kenya Stefano Dejak said: “Challenges from traffic congestion in Nairobi are evident. Nairobi residents lose a lot of time every day moving from one point to the other because of traffic jams. Improving the transport situation in Nairobi is obviously a key priority for both the Government of Kenya and Nairobi City County. The Nairobi Missing Link road project aims to ease congestion in the city by opening up new road links thus shortening the travel distances. The project also ensures inclusivity in transport infrastructure development by providing paths for pedestrians and cyclists. The European Union is happy to support Kenya in this because we think is of key importance for the development of Nairobi.”
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko said that his administration’s mandate was to ensure that the road infrastructure in all neighbourhoods within the county was usable, well maintained and that accessible to all residents of the Nairobi. He added that the road rehabilitation exercise being witnessed in many estates would continue until all poor roads that had been neglected for a long time were repaired and in acceptable condition.
The government partnership with the EU is targeting urban connectivity through the construction of six Missing Links Roads and three Non Motorised Traffic (NMT) routes in Nairobi. The project roads and NMT facilities are approximately 17.2 km and 12.4 km long respectively. It also aims to encourage more NMT which includes all means of transport that are human powered like walking, animal-power, cycling, small wheeled transport i.e. skates, skateboards, push scooters, hand carts and wheelchair travel since they are healthy, non-polluting, versatile and reliable.
“Estimates from studies have shown that traffic jams in Nairobi cost Sh50 million a day in lost productivity. A shift away from private car use to non-motorised transport, has a key role to play in using the existing road network more efficiently and delivering significant potential economic and environmental benefits to society, alongside tangible health and lifestyle benefits for individuals,” said KURA MD Eng. Silas Kinoti.
He noted that any project around sustainable transport facilities must put into account elements of road safety, traffic decongestion and well-maintained infrastructure, which he said would contribute to unlocking Kenya’s potential in different other sectors.
There is a lack of general appreciation of non-motorised transportation amenities by motorised users like public service vehicles (PSVs), personal vehicles and motor bikes since the non-motorised transport policy is relatively new in Kenya and yet to be enforced to realise the sector plans. When fully enforced, it will address health, environmental and traffic decongestion issues.