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Kenya Unveils Command Center To Ease Traffic Jams In Nairobi

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government has launched a command center tasked with coordinating traffic and crime management using digital close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in Nairobi.

The Chinese government-funded digital system will control Nairobi traffic by installing new lights with countdown timers to free up the number of police officers who control roundabouts and junctions across the city.

The police said the use of CCTV will have a huge impact in traffic management in Nairobi as well as in arresting traffic offenders who have been overlapping and thus cause accidents in the city.

County traffic commander Edward Mwamburi told Xinhua on Tuesday that the command center which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday will also enable the police to reduce traffic jams in Nairobi.

The new command center will have a major impact in terms of traffic jam reduction and also in nabbing traffic offenders around Nairobi. We have installed CCTV all over major roads in Nairobi and also trained police on how to use them,” Mwamburi said.

Mwamburi said the lights will be synchronized in such a way that the operators in the control room can control the flow.

The 5-million-U.S.-dollar integrated camera and traffic lights system in Nairobi is the first step in the new battle to bring sanity to a chaotic transport sector and address a number of crimes.

The project follows a 98-million-dollar grant from the Chinese government which was provided in May 2012 for installation of CCTV in major cities and towns around the country which came in the wake of sustained terrorist attacks.

The number of accidents has increased significantly due to motorbikes. According to police, cyclists account for 10 percent of all road fatalities.

A survey released recently by research firm Ipsos-Synovate indicated that most accidents in the East African nation occur because road users have little regard for traffic rules.

The researchers noted that some motorists drive on the wrong side of the road, in what is known in local parlance as overlapping, to avoid traffic jams.

On the other hand, the study observed many passengers do not question the driver when he is speeding.

The command center has 80 screens and a number of telephone lines, which the officers manning it will be using to coordinate operations in the city.

More than 51 cameras have been installed within the city enabling live video streaming as well as recording for future necessities.

Efforts to curb road accidents saw Kenyan legislators pass laws to ensure traffic offenders get stiffer penalties that include life sentence for motorists who cause death by dangerous driving and a jail term of up to ten years for anyone found to be driving while drink.

Inspector general of police David Kimaiyo said the new traffic lights will capture the happenings at the junctions and any traffic offenses.

It will capture speeding vehicles through number plate recognition and other criminal activities at selected areas,” said Kimaiyo, adding that the surveillance system has also been fitted with smart cameras that will record faces of people.

Let offenders be aware because now we are watching almost every corner and we hope to reduce various crimes by a big margin. It will have an impact on the city, which has been grappling with attacks linked to different crimes including terrorism and daily robberies.”

He further explained that the cameras will be on for 24 hours and urged motorists to familiarize themselves with traffic regulations and strive to obey them.

The cameras will be on-line 24/7, and whether it’s in congested traffic jam, free flowing traffic or late at night. Evidence for any traffic offense will be there in digital format, and probably if the court says so, printed on paper,” he said.

He said the project will further be rolled out within estates within Nairobi to curb the rising cases of insecurity. The project will be replicated in other urban towns in the country.

The camera system will be used as a crime-fighting tool and where a vehicle is suspected to have been involved in criminal activity, it will have its registration plates circulated by police.

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Ex-Kenyan leader urges motorists to observe traffic rules

NAIROBI, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday called on motorists to strictly adhere to traffic rules in order to curb accidents that are claiming many innocent citizens.

Speaking during the official opening of the Nairobi Western Ring Road, Kibaki said road accidents cannot be curbed by the government without the concerted efforts from all Kenyans.

It will take the collective resolve of Kenyans to curb reckless and drunken driving. It is you and I who should remind public transport operators and especially PSV drivers that they owe Kenyans the duty to drive them safely,” he said.

The police statistics show about 3,000 people died while thousands others have been injured in road accidents across the country since the start of 2013.The accidents are mostly caused by both public and private vehicles, motorcycles, motorbikes and pedestrians.

The unruly drivers of public transport vehicles especially matatu (minibus) operators and corrupt traffic police officers are often cited as one of the major contributors.

Speaking in Nairobi, Kibaki said traffic laws are enacted to regulate the behaviors of motorists on the roads and must be adhered to ensure safety of all road users.

It is therefore absolute important that all of us respect and observe these rules for our own good as Kenyans,” he said.

The retired president reminded Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators that they owe Kenyans safety to their various destinations at all time. He said road accidents cannot be curbed by the Government without the concerted efforts from all Kenyans.

Kibaki said matatu drivers have no right to endanger the lives of members of public because of their misplaced daring antics on the road.

He said the tremendous infrastructural development especially in roads in the country should not be turned to death traps. Former President said the official opening of the Western Ring Road will offer a relief by decongesting city roads.

Kibaki said the construction of the project financed by the Japanese government through the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) shows Government’s commitment towards providing quality roads to support the country’s Vision 2030.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Engineer Michael Kamau said the commissioning of the road marks a major milestone in the government’s effort to decongest the Nairobi central business district.

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