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Integrated Transport Policy zooms in

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27- The country could have an Integrated Transport Policy that spells out reforms that need to be implemented in the transport sector before the end of the year.

Transport Permanent Secretary Dr Cyrus Njiru said they were lobbying to have Parliament debate the proposed policy document that has been turned into a sessional paper and which outlines how the industry will be reorganised to ensure that it operates effectively.

“The Integrated Transport Policy has already received Cabinet approval and we are now lobbying to get a slot within the busy Parliament to have that sessional paper debated and passed,” he said.

While admitting that the strategy to leave the public transport in the hands of the private sector had largely failed, the PS said the enactment of the legislation would establish an institution that would be responsible of overseeing all the aspects of transport.

The sector contributes more than six percent towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product but has largely been mismanaged. Roads transport which accounts for 80 percent of all movement has especially been hard hit and has been left to unmanageable matatus that are supposed to provide public transport but sometimes fail to do so effectively.

Matatu strikes, extortions and hiking of fares which characterise the industry have time and again left the over one million people who commute to Nairobi  every day stranded leading to a loss of billions of shillings to the economy.

Dr Njiru however said that they were working on other mechanisms such as the mapping of the Nairobi Metropolis to identify the appropriate mode of transport for each of the areas.

The number of people who commute to work in each of those areas will be a key determinant of the mode of transport that will be introduced.

“Those that are more than 20,000 per day will require a mode of transport that can move people quickly. This will mainly be a rapid bus transport system, rail and private transport,” he said adding that this will require a lot of finances.

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“The next thing will be the funding mechanism for that and that is soon to be presented to the Cabinet because it will require an agreement on the Public, Private Partnerships,” Dr Njiru said adding that the government was heavily borrowing the international best practices.

This thinking was what informed the fast-tracking of the rehabilitation of the railway system and the existing locomotives to boost commuter train services.

The Sh800 million that was allocated to the ministry in this financial year, he said would go towards the construction of rail that would link passengers from Nairobi’s Railway Station to Embakasi.

“Once this is done, we are going to have more passengers using decent coaches to bring them to the city center. Although we will not be able to entirely solve the (traffic jam) in problem in the next six months, this will relieve the roads,” he envisaged.

Contracts have already been awarded to various firms, and the PS expressed optimism that the first commuter train services would be operational by mid next year.

At the same time, the PS said the Ministry supports Tuesday’s decision by the City Council of Nairobi to increase parking fees by 114 percent beginning November 1.

Dr Njiru said these were some of the ‘hard’ decisions that have to be made by all government agencies to decongest the city.

The City Council increased the fee from Sh140 to Sh300 per day, an announcement that has been robustly criticised by many motorists.

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