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Nairobi City plans to launch bus rapid transit system in February

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to launch the bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Nairobi in February in a bid to ease traffic congestion that is linked to huge economic losses, air pollution and declining human health, a government official said on Monday.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, said the government is in the process of acquiring the first batch of 64 buses that are tailor-made for mass transportation in Nairobi and adjacent satellite towns.

"We have made progress on bus rapid transport and have agreed with key stakeholders on their rollout which is expected later in February.

"They will be run in collaboration with the private sector," Macharia told reporters.

He disclosed the government has dispatched a team to South Africa where the 64 buses will be procured to evaluate their technical features and compatibility on Kenyan roads.

Macharia clarified that the state will only play a supportive role since local investors will be contracted to run the buses that will complement traditional modes of city transport like minivans.

"The buses will be assembled locally and should meet critical specifications like safety.

"They are part of an integrated transport system that has been prioritized to ease congestion in Nairobi," said Macharia.

He said the government will invest in redesigning of urban infrastructure to pave way for a countrywide rollout of BRT.

The cabinet secretary said the government has borrowed international best practices to inform the launch of mass transportation in its fast growing cities.

Paul Maringa, principal secretary for the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, said that introduction of BRT that will later be followed by light trains, is part of Nairobi’s regeneration master plan.

"An efficient transport system will save the economy colossal amount of money lost in traffic gridlocks. By decongesting city roads, we anticipate seamless movement of workers who are driving growth of this economy," said Maringa.

Meanwhile, private cars will be kept away from Nairobi’s central business district on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting from February in order to decongest the city and create room for informal traders.


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