Lilian Towers Hotel, University Way, Nairobi.
The City of Kigali. Rwanda is one of the East African countries that have made provisions for non-motorised transport. The Rwandan, Ugandan and Kenyan experiences were shared during the IDS ACET Regional Workshop held in Nairobi on 23rd February 2016.
The ACET Regional Seminar hosted by IDS provided an avenue for sharing experiences and projecting future plans on non-motorised transport (NMT) in East African cities.
The forum, “(IDS) ACET Regional Seminar on Planning, Development and Implementation of Non-Motorised Transport Infrastructure in Eastern Africa Cities”, was held at the Nairobi Safari Club on 23rd February 2016.
Dr Elias Twangira provided the Rwandan experience. He said the Rwandan Policy on Public Transport Strategies and the Road Act were established in 2012 to outline policy, strategies, priorities and action plan for development of the transport system.
Some of the policy issues include defining an integrated urban public transport and land use planning; creating walkable neighbourhoods and giving pedestrians the highest priority; providing facilities for NMT; and preserving open space, natural beauty and critical environmental areas.
One of the recent milestones is the high level declaration on Kigali CBD as a car free area as well as paradigm shift to NMT by decision makers. There are several on-going studies for NMT facilities and one of the results is the completion of pedestrian and cycle path in Kigali CBD.
Mr Jacob Byamukama, from the Kampala Capital City Authority, provided an overview of Uganda. He said Uganda is one of the countries with high accident rates, with Kampala Metropolitan area accounting 52.5% of the accidents. Pedestrian casualty is the highest (50%) followed by motorcyclist (23%) and passenger (18%).
Some of the NMT interventions implemented in Uganda include:
Future NMT interventions in Kampala include stand alone pedestrian traffic signal crossings, pedestrian footbridges, institutionalising comprehensive road safety audits in every road project and reducing the use of motorbikes as public transport mode.
The Kenya experiences were outlined by Mr Martin Eshiwani, the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Transport, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. He noted that the users and pedestrians are vulnerable in a motorised environment.
Like in Uganda, pedestrians were the highest casualties (40.7%) in the period between 1st January and 21st February 2016 countrywide. Other fatalities were passengers (21.8%), drivers (10.4%), pedal cyclists (3.1%), motorcyclists (16.1%) and pillion passengers (7.8%).
The Deputy Secretary noted that following the influence of development partners and other stakeholders (such as the University of Nairobi), NMT concept has received attention at policy making levels.
In the 2015/2016 Financial Year, the Government of Kenya has set aside Sh160m for construction of 47.6km of footpaths in Nairobi. Eshiwani called for review of the Traffic Act, Cap 403, to provide rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and bicyclists
During the seminar, Dr Romanus Opiyo (UoN) shared with participants lessons learnt in provision of NMT infrastructure on Thika Superhighway
The main objective of the Thika Highway study was to investigate the extent to which the mobility demands of the NMT users are considered while formulating and implementing donor funded road infrastructure investment plans.
The findings indicate that the development of the highway has resulted in increased economic activities and mobility. However, inadequate NMT provision, indiscipline and carelessness of users, inadequate maintenance and lack of reporting of crime and abuse of facilities undermine the gains on NMT provision.
Users feel that the NMT footbridges and pedestrian crossings are not adequately spaced, which push NMT users to cross at points not designated for crossing, while few others merely ignore crossing at designated points. Incomplete cycle paths push cyclists into the motorway, exposing them to dangerous speeding traffic.
The drivers of motorised vehicles do not respect NMT facilities even in cases where there are speed bumps, while most NMT users who are abused by drivers or mugged by criminals also do not report cases to any authority. Maintenance of NMT facilities is being done, albeit inadequately, with signs of poor drainage, broken guard rails, non-functional street lights, muddy cycle paths and potholes in some areas.
The study was carried out by ACET researchers Prof Winnie V. Mitullah (IDS, UoN) Dr Romanus Opiyo (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UoN) and Mr Raphael Indimuli (IDS, UoN).
“The above challenges remain a threat to planning and provision of NMT infrastructure and require attention. In addressing the challenges, there is need to increase participation space for NMT infrastructure users, awareness on the NMT infrastructure design considerations, investment on NMT infrastructure and enforcement of discipline,” the researchers observe.
They call for responsive and accommodative designs and expansion of NMT provision to include provision of toilets, bus stop sheds, and benches for resting, as well as CCTV cameras which are largely lacking on Thika Superhighway.
The researchers observe that these interventions require coordination of all actors engaged in NMT research, planning, provision and usage in ensuring that there is complementary role between NMT and other modes, more so public transport which will lead to considerable travel-time gains and safety of all modes.
Thika highway is one of Kenya’s first large scale transportation infrastructure projects financed through loans sourced from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Chinese government. The project began in 2009 and was completed in February 2012.
Prof Winnie Mitullah