Plans to establish a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Mombasa have taken shape after the county government secured a partnership with an international firm.
The county government has partnered with Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) to introduce the system, whose study designs are almost done.
The global firm was involved in the implementation of Dar es Salaam’s, Tanzania, BRT system.
Part of the plan the county government has settled on involves expansion of Digo Road, a major road in the town.
The Transport, Infrastructure and Public Works department says all power poles in the middle of Digo Road will be removed.
“We have already agreed with Kenya Power on that. Power cables will in the future be passed underground as we aim to have the project ready by 2022,” Transport executive Tawfiq Balala told the Nation in an interview.
The ongoing study design will also determine which roundabouts should be removed from Mombasa’s main road, which is among the arteries that connect thousands of people from North and South Coast to the island.
There are approximately seven roundabouts within Mombasa Town, which are likely to be done away with.
“According to the study, it was noted that the first thing that needs to be done is to seek expansion of the road to allow us get the dedicated lane for the BRT system,” said Mr Balala.
He said the first phase of the project will include four buses located at the main junction leading to the CBD.
He said preliminary plans have proposed the main road from Buxton to the CBD should be turned into a dedicated lane for buses.
This would mean that the six lanes the CBD’s main road has on both sides will be turned into a single lane.
According to the proposal, the BRT system will have buses that carry about 100 passengers and would take seven minutes or a maximum of 10 minutes from town to their residential areas, as opposed to the more than 30 minutes matatus take.
“This will work better than having a train system. We have seen BRT has worked very well in countries like Brazil and Colombia, where it was first introduced,” said Mr Balala.
Already, a survey has been done by more than 500 traffic surveyors who have collected data that will assist the county in its plans to introduce the system.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) partnered with the county to carry out the traffic survey.
“In our survey, we have learnt that more people come from the North Coast to the Island, followed by those from the South Coast. The first phase of the project will cover these people,” said Mr Balala.
The second phase will cover buses moving from Likoni to Mombasa West.
Matatu Owners Association national vice chairman Ali Bates said the county should expand the roads before implementing the project.
He said roads in Mombasa are narrow and the system would not work if proper expansion is not done.
“We have issues with the roads as we speak. There is not enough parking space and stages for matatus,” he said.