Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) is working to introduce intelligent traffic management system to help in easing the perennial congestion in Nairobi roads. The system is designed to allow a longer period of traffic flow from roads with most vehicles, a departure from the current time-based system.
Gauff Consultants, a German infrastructure and mobility firm has been awarded the KES 1.4 billion contract to design and implement a smart traffic system for smooth flow of vehicles on Nairobi roads. Gauff Consultants conducted a study developing the basis for a technical and financial harmonization of measures in view of an improvement of the traffic situation and increase in the efficiency of the different transport networks in Nairobi. This study is based on a detailed traffic analysis and models as well as the development of a concerted strategy for the implementation of an integrated transport system.
Gauff Consultants will oversee the rollout of the intelligent traffic system (ITS) that involves installation of intelligent traffic lights at major road junctions. The few functioning traffic lights currently allocate an equal amount of time for traffic from different directions at intersections, in a merry go round manner. In areas and during times where this order breaks down traffic flow is controlled by police officers.
The NTSA recently released regulations for new number plates that will come with a microchip that can be read remotely by sensors at the junctions. This initiative will help the consultants implement the ITS.
There have been similar attempts in the past to re engineer Nairobi traffic which have failed despite substantial investments in the systems. Nairobi City County spent KES 400 million to install new traffic lights and cameras in Nairobi in 2014. These have so far proven to be ineffective and only used occasionally at a few junctions. Plans to replace roundabouts with signalised intersections that would be fully controlled by traffic lights were also shelved by the County.
Under this new plan by KURA, cameras at intersections will determine the roads that need more time to flow through, this will be done with the help of vehicle number plates embedded with microchips. Kenya is moving to adopt these kinds of number plates which will automatically synchronize with traffic lights, effectively removing the need for traffic officers.
The project is jointly funded by the World Bank and the central government and is part of the Nairobi Urban Transport Improvement Programme. First phase of the programme will involve construction of the smart traffic system at 100 major road junctions. The city has 400 junctions which are blamed for causing traffic jams