Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: TRANSPORT, ROADS, TRAFFIC, CONGESTION

Cluster of Jasmine flowers at City Park @cngarachu

Based on City Park this information can be used for public green spaces throughout the city.  Here we suggest specific areas where the Nairobi Master Plan can be bolder in addressing the real needs of the people.

(The full document is available for download (see below). This is the fourth and final post in this series, of excerpts from the document.)


DENSITY IS GOOD. Many studies have shown that cities have higher economic productivity on average than the rest of the country (see this article from UN/Habitat and this one in Smithsonian Magazine). It is also obvious that when density is higher, more people can walk to work or need to be transported shorter distances.

The Nairobi Master plan looks at additional road capacity – but needs to look at how to make roads for the people …We continue to plan our road infrastructure only for cars, ignoring the fact that almost 50% of our population walk and a further 30% take matatus. Roads should provide for pedestrians.  

It is shocking that footpaths have been converted to parking for private development. Adequate footbridges and pedestrain crossings should be allowed. Roads should provide for public transport. Highly congested areas like the CBD, Westlands, Upper hill etc – should provide large car parks on the periphery of that sub-centre, with only pedestrain or public transport access in the core…. also see post of talk by architect Natalie Sham.

Therefore in a long-term perspective city transport planning should aim at:

•    mass transit that efficiently reaches all major parts of the city, and is clean, safe, well lit and works all hours. When the wabenzi are willing to ride the high-status mass transit system, then our problems will be solved (mass transit includes buses and matatus but trains are probably required as well).
•    stop favoring car owners! Stop building highways! Impose high congestion taxes focusing on downtown streets; favor matutus, buses and rail. Improve lighting and security at all termini.
•    improve pedestrian pathways, lighting and security. The new highways in Parklands are an example of excluding pedestrians, forcing them into dark tunnels with no pedestrian access on the shorter, better-lit roadways. Also, be realistic about the uses pedestrian areas are put to, including street sales
•    greatly extend bicycle lanes and add m-pesa-powered bikeshare (like m-kopa lights)
•    accomodate motorcycle traffic in its own lane, not bike lanes or car lanes, thus making motorcycle traffic safer and more attractive to commuters, including women

City Park treeline from Forest Road @cngarachu

City Park treeline from Forest Road @cngarachu


•    develop mix-use districts (like Westlands today) with both housing and offices to reduce the need for 100% of workers to commute as is currently the case. Incentivize the building of housing as well as offices in downtown.
•    increase the density of offices and housing, which is not only efficient for traffic but also for the provision of services such as security, water, sewer, electricity and broadband. Do not allow the city to sprawl beyond its current borders, thus reducing the need for additional cars and additional highways. This will be particularly important as the number of households in the city continues to grow as our population gets older, richer, more urban and has fewer children.
•    given the goal of increasing overall urban density which will reduce the existence of private gardens, it’s imperative to create green spaces and parks, and have tree-lined avenues. We are currently allowing development to take over too many parks, and building new estates with no green space at all. This will inevitably have to be rectified in the future: we need to start now.


•    enforce pollution laws so that we don’t all die of asthma and lung cancer before any of these recommendations can be put into place – have you noticed how the smog hangs over the city and is particularly dense in the new Thika road tunnels? Matatus and lorries are the main (but not the only) offenders but I’ve never heard of a policeman stopping anyone for polluting.
•    make the police enforce the traffic lights!!!! Why did we spent all that money to put in lights just to have the police tell people to do the opposite? And is the only purpose of those “cameras” to cause temporary blindness at night?

In the short term, we endorse the proposals in the THE NAIROBI METROPOLITAN REGION (NMR) TRAFFIC DECONGESTION PROGRAM with 2 suggestions:

•    the proposal has too few bus stops in town. If people have to walk a long distance from the bus stop to their place of work, the buses will start to deviate from the regulations. Make it convenient and people will tend to cooperate.
•    you have mentioned underulitized car parks but no plan for how to increase utilization. My hunch is an impression of lack of security and lack of courtesy at NCC facilities are the main reason motorists would not want to use them. Consider hiring private management for city-owned car parks.

Nairobi’s faithful citizens lose 1-2 hours every day in traffic, wasting time and money, choking on fumes and fighting with matatus. We would rather walk down a safe, well-lit sidewalk to my neighborhood transit stop and read a book while we ride the metro to work! Who wouldn’t?

Friends-of-City-Park-comments-on-Masterplan-2014-04-01.pdf (784 downloads)
Friends of City Park comments to Nairobi Master Plan, following consultation with GIBB International on 31 March 2014


One Response to “Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: TRANSPORT, ROADS, TRAFFIC, CONGESTION”

  1. Maaike Manten20/06/2014 at 9:12 am #

    Excellent recommendations!

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