The Nairobi Regional Commissioner James Kianda says they will review their traffic management within the county as they enhance compliance with Covid-19 measures.
Kianda says the idea is to identify bottlenecks, towards optimization of traffic throughput before the 8 pm to 4 am curfew.
“Going forward, our traffic management will be reviewed and enhanced to facilitate smooth transition into curfew hours,” he said in a statement issued Sunday.
This was in response to the traffic snarl-up along Thika Superhighway as a result of police officers trying to ‘strictly enforce the curfew restrictions.
“We are also fully alive to the fact that there are construction works on major roads within the metropolis and we urge wananchi to plan their movements according to with a view to beating the curfew hours,” he added.
The Government through its Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus O. Oguna, defended the move saying that all Kenyans must follow the measures.
“It is important that, as a people, we continue to observe the Covid-19 infection control and containment measures, if we are to quickly flatten the infection curve and have our lives get back to normal,” spokesman Cyrus Oguna said.
“Observing these measures include strictly respecting the curfew time which starts at 8 pm for the One Zone and 10 pm for the rest of the country. Let this be a collective responsibility. We wish everyone a blessed Sunday.”
The current 8 pm to 4 am curfew in the counties of Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Nakuru have been extended. The counties have classified as diseased zone due to a high prevalence of Covid-19.
The new compliance measures were met with rebuke.
“Compliance with necessary public health measures is not about torture as happening on Thika road but about national dialogue and community engagement on protecting lives,” tweeted Dr Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO of Amref Health Africa.
Dr. Catherine Kyobutungi, Executive Director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) further noted that the pandemic response like many other public health has been medicalised from the word go.
“Health and by extension Covid19 is a function of the social, economic and physical environments in which we live. The response cannot just be mitigation from a health sector perspective!!
We need public health measures, the compliance of which requires intervention in other sectors. Hungry, jobless, poor people will not use masks or stay home or social distance or be home in time for curfew. They’ll not stay home or isolate if sick, or test if exposed.”
Martha Karua, politician and Advocate of the High Court faulted the police for detaining curfew breakers for long periods. She said it amounts to ‘extrajudicial punishment’.
“Reasonable option would be to issue summons where necessary or a warning to those ‘ marginally’ late bearing in Mind public transport challenges and ongoing roadworks,” she says adding that “This may also become a super spreader for people caught up while in public transport, as well as a source for cold-related and other ailments. Its oppressive amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment therefore unconstitutional.”
Traffic congestion a major challenge that the Nairobi metropolis continues to grapple with. This is besides funds being set aside to improve infrastructure deemed as a critical foundation to achieving a double-digit GDP as per the country’s blueprint Vision 2030.
It is estimated that traffic congestion results in the loss of KSh58.4 million in productivity more than Ksh2.1 billion annually.
World Bank Kenya Report on “African Cities: Opening Doors to the World” states that for cities to act as integrates labour markets and match job seekers am employers, they need to make employment accessible. African cities are failing to do so.
For instance, in Nairobi accessibility is much higher for car users than for users of matatus.
“Nairobi is built for car owners who can reach about 90 per cent of jobs within an hour but car user accounts for only 13 per cent of trips for all purposes, 28 per cent of trips are made with matatus and 41% per cent per cent are made on foot.”
The report notes that heavy con gestation, high rates of walking, informal collective transportation and the spatial distribution of jobs and residents lead to low employment accessibility in Nairobi and the modal location of labour.
“High transport cost, crippling congestion and slow commuting speeds have prevented African cities from acting as matchmakers and fostering agglomeration economies through firm clustering.”