Mombasa to promote public transport, discourage cars - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Mombasa to promote public transport, discourage cars


Traffic is a mess in Mombasa, plagued by traffic jams and worsening air pollution.

Plans are underway to reduce the use of personal motor vehicles in the county and increase bus rapid transit, cycling lanes and sidewalks.

Congestion is blamed on the increasing number of private cars, lack of adequate public transport, sidewalks and cycling space.

The county has developed a draft Mombasa County Transport Policy – a review of the 2018 policy. It encourages walking, cycling and use of public transport.

In 2019, Mombasa had a population of at least 1,208,333 people with a projection of 1.88 million people by 2030.

Out of this population, 45 per cent of the residents walk as their main means of transportation, 36 per cent use public transport (including matatus and buses) and only three per cent use personal cars.

Some 11 per cent of Mombasa residents use boda bodas, while four per cent use tuk-tuks. Only one per cent of residents cycle as their main means of transport.

By December 2019, Mombasa had registered 4,021 matatus, which carry 36 per cent of trips in the city.

Among matatus, 14-seat vehicles are dominant.

The county had 67 registered taxis, 255 minibuses and 172 buses, bringing the total to 12,542 public transport vehicles.

In the draft policy, the county aims to increase the use of walking, cycling, and public transport by creating a safe and pleasant network of footpaths, cycle tracks, greenways, bus shelters, bus terminals, bus rapid transit corridors and other facilities.

The policy seeks to provide high-quality public transport by proper management and modernisation of the public transport sector, which will ensure safe, efficient and reliable services.

“High-quality buses, supported with terminals and depots make public transport attractive even to personal vehicle users. To improve speed and reliability, Mombasa will plan dedicated Bus Rapid Transit corridors,” the draft policy reads.

Governor Hassan Joho said though several major road corridors in Mombasa are either under expansion or slated for improvements soon, there is an urgent need to ensure corridors include high-quality walking and cycling elements.

He said the designs should also facilitate efficient public transport operations, including BRT, to avoid the need for costly infrastructure retrofitting in the future.

Despite efforts by the county to develop high-quality footpaths along Moi Avenue, Digo Road, and Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, many streets are unpaved, have discontinuous footpaths, an absence of pedestrian crossing facilities and a lack of shade.

In the last few years, Mombasa has witnessed a surge in large transport infrastructure investment by the national government, with more projects in the pipeline.

“Unfortunately, most of these projects focus on the movement of cars, overlooking the mobility for the majority of city residents who walk or use public transport.

“There is an urgent need to reshape transport investments so that they benefit all road users,” Joho said. 

The review of the MCTP (2018) was done by the Mombasa government in collaboration with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

“This will improve health, safety, and environmental quality, and enhance social equity and economic activity in Mombasa County,” the policy says.

“I invite county residents to play their part in developing a mobility system that will support our collective prosperity,” Joho said.

The county says it will strive to design streets consistent with principles of complete streets and urged other agencies to coordinate actions.

Complete streets are designed for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport passengers, and personal motor vehicles, including all modes of mobility as well as street vending, trees, street furniture, and other elements.

Non-Motorised Transport, which refers to human-powered transport such as walking and cycling, is the dominant form of mobility in Mombasa.

Surveys indicate that Mbaraki Road and Nyali Bridge have the heaviest pedestrian volumes during peak period, with approximately 5,600 persons per hour per direction each in the two locations.

With Mombasa Island being a commercial and educational hub offering employment and educational opportunities, most commuters travel towards the island in the morning and head out of the island during the evening. 

The island also functions as a link for traffic heading to and from Mainland West, which is fairly industrialised.

Despite efforts by the county to develop high-quality footpaths along Moi Avenue, Digo Road, and Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, many streets are unpaved, have discontinuous footpaths, an absence of pedestrian crossing facilities and a lack of shade.

Some of the existing facilities are encroached by shop premises, blocked by parked vehicles, or occupied by street vendors.

The policy also recognises street vendors and seeks to create ample space for them.

“Street vendors fulfill an important urban function, providing essential goods and services at low cost. Street vending also creates safer and more vibrant streets,” the policy reads.

Most streets in Mombasa county do not incorporate any formal spaces for street vending.

As a result, vendors place their wares on footpaths, leaving little or no space for pedestrians to walk.

“There is a need to reorganise vending to balance the use of street space between vending and the movement of pedestrians and cyclists,” the draft policy reads.

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