In Search of the Miracle Cure for Traffic Jams

There is a common saying; trying to settle a problem with oratory is like attempting to unsnarl a traffic jam by blowing horns. Road traffic jam has been will continue to be the major problem in most of the roads in Kenya especially in Nairobi capital city where traffic congestion is the worst in the nation and to most motorist it is a nerve-wracking ordeal; it gets hard to think clearly and the only thing ringing in one’s head is, if only the traffic jam would clear! Jams are not only frustrating, they are also a major contributor to massive delays, driving safety, air pollution, increased fuel wastage and monetary losses. It is only in traffic where your most car parts and items will be stolen from you without causing for alarm and you as a motorist you will be left feeling so sad, ripped off and helpless because you can’t leave your car and run after the damning petty thief .And the most painful bit is the thieves are making a killing selling the parts for a small fortune.
That was a little digression to ventilate how annoying it is when it comes to these car part thieves’ on traffic, back to our lovely city traffic disaster. Cities throughout the world have found themselves at the brink of massive traffic explosion, hence curtailing their ability to manage traffic. The situation has worsened in Kenya due to the following reasons: First roads tend to be narrow and poorly built and as our cities grow in an impromptu manner, no provision is made towards expanding to accommodate the scaling road capacities, these as resulted into several bottleneck roads, which cause major traffic congestion during the rush hours.
Secondly, often drivers on the Kenyan roads are not sufficiently trained to follow lane discipline and practice defensive driving. Most acquired their driving license through back door magendo system at a small cost; after practicing driving around the neighborhood blocks for a week and not hitting a stray dog they assume they are good go. The impact of poor and insufficient driving skills makes one have zero lane discipline especially at traffic junctions which deteriorates the already overcrowded junction situation. Furthermore, some drivers frequently jump red lights and block the intersection, causing further traffic congestion. These problems are intensified by the fact that traffic law enforcement team is poor in service and always expecting kitu kidogo or chai in case of obstruction so the driver will skidattle a free smiling man for a wrong full act done, thereby providing no incentive for drivers to follow the rules. To top it all most traffic junctions are often unmanned, thereby allowing drivers to drive in a chaotic manner.
Thirdly, there is the “car effect” Kenya is a fast growing economy country and you can agree with me lately there has been a surge in the number of private vehicles in the country. This problem is mainly heightened by the social stigma, where people view operating a private vehicle as a sign of prosperity and wealth, while public transport is viewed as being used by the lower echelons of society, many people insist on driving their own car, instead of sharing rides mostly referred to as carpooling or using a bicycle; up to a half of cars on roads are drivers looking for a place to park and worst still most of them simply are not very efficient drivers.
Fourthly, lack of a modern public transport system: buses clamber all over one another to pick up passengers because  drivers are paid on commission system. The government can stop this nonsense by issuing a directive or guideline to bus operators to follow a system similar to that in the first world. This means investing in proper bus stations and meeting with bus operators to organize bus schedules. The government can force bus operators to follow the directive because it has the power to revoke the bus operator’s license if they refuse.
Lastly, some traffic jams appear seemingly spontaneous, maybe caused by the “butterfly effect” of a single driver suddenly switching lanes, which results in cars behind him braking suddenly  with the ripple effect rapidly snarling up the highway.
We all these said we need a solution; we could pick the easier route and  sermon a juju man to come shake is fly whisk commonly known as irukele and miraculously cure our traffic congestion or apply a more logical approach which a significant amount of investment is required to set up a traffic management infrastructure. Such infrastructure not only involves measuring and analyzing real-time traffic data but also focuses towards enhancing congestion detection. But the problem is our country is ravaged by corruption and bureaucracy; there are multiple hurdles before the money actually progresses towards such large initiatives. A few months ago Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero experienced traffic craziness in Nairobi; after he was forced to walk from his office to Westlands to avoid traffic jam. Since then the governor, in conjunction with the Transport Ministry have embarked on an endeavor to cut traffic in the city and the recent reforms being they wanted to make the famous and commonly used Moi Avenue, Kimathi St,Tom Mboya St.and Kirinyaga Road into a one way street to end traffic in Central Business Centre, will this radical step work for or against Kenyan motorist. Initially the county government had put drums on several roundabouts from the CBD and lock out matatus. Being a center of ridicule he caved in to pressures from motorists and ordered the barriers blocking two roundabouts removed because the plan was termed impossible. Ending this curse of mad traffic jam on our roads may need more that  radical rethink and probably the solutions is not with the road adjustments and re-adjustments but with the vehicles themselves.

TRAFFIC

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