Intelligent Traffic System: The End of the Traffic Menace in Nairobi?

A German firm specialising in infrastructure and mobility firm has won the bid to design and install a smart traffic system to enhance the movement of traffic within the Nairobi CBD.

H.P. Gauff Consultants, has recently put pen to paper on the 1.4 Billion Shilling contract that will see them design and supervise the installation of the futuristic technology, a first in East Africa.

The project is being implemented by Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) – a state agency under the Ministry of Transport.

Gauff Consultants are well known for consulting, planning and implementing infrastructure projects.

In Kenya, they have been involved in numerous engineering projects most notably Project Management for the Design and Construction of an Inland Container Depot in Mombasa and the Mombasa Port Facilities Improvement Project.

According to their website, this consultancy firm specializes in the fields of drinking water supply, wastewater treatment, environment and energy, roads, rail, mobility, Information Technology solutions, railway systems, constructive civil engineering as well as structural engineering and infrastructure planning.

It is with upon background that KURA has taken a directed step to engage the German firm in the rollout of an Intelligent Traffic System (ITS).

Essentially, the system works by installing cameras at the most critical road junctions where traffic congestion is witnessed.

Through micro-chip vehicle number plates – which, too, are soon to be rolled out – the system will be able to decipher the number of vehicles at the congested points and synchronize the traffic lights accordingly.

The system is intended to transform how traffic operates on our roads by reduction or outright elimination of the human element. It will also aid in collection of useful data for decision-support systems.

In a previous post on this blog, we discussed the dawn of smart highways. While the Intelligent Traffic System is only a small portion of the entire concept of smart highways, it is a big step toward that direction.

Traffic Jam In the City. [Photo by C Tanti]

Traffic Jam In the City. [Photo by C Tanti]

 

Smooth traffic movement has a definite correlation with logistics. The concern of how goods move efficiently from their origin to the designated recipient is the mainstay of a good logistical plan.

By having in place an automated traffic control system, any bottlenecks in the logistics of goods, agricultural produce or any such transportation may be eliminated.

In a city initially designed for 100,000 inhabitants but currently playing host to over 4 million, it is estimated that the traffic snarl-ups cost the country up to KES 5 million a day in lost productivity. This is definitely not welcome for logistics managers.

It is not the first attempt at having some form of automated traffic lights system. In 2014, the County Government of Nairobi installed time-based traffic lights at an estimated cost of KES 400 million.

The lights were intended to regulate traffic by allowing traffic past the junction at specific time intervals. These were soon ignored as the city motorists went back to their chaotic ways. This timed system has since proven redundant.

Will the installation of the ITS be the final cure for stagnant traffic in Nairobi? It remains to be seen.

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