Inclusive Transport and Spatial Justice in Nairobi

Current state of urban mobility
Five in the morning! That’s the average time a person living in Nairobi has to wake up to be at work by 8 a.m. Battling trac, risking life to cross the busy highway after alighting from a bus and a hop, skip and jump over neglected and divested pedestrian footpaths, then working until 8 p.m., because the rush hour will not let you leave work at 5 p.m., unless ofcourse you are willing to spend a good two hours in trac to get home. Waiting to leave at 8 p.m. would mean that you get home in 20 minutes. This is the beginning of the end of a social life and a slow but sure death of a healthy life given all the exhaust fumes breathed in every day, thanks to the numerous vehicles that are now choking the once green city under the sun.

The typical everyday life of a Nairobi resident has been made dicult by the lack of ecient public transportation, endless trac congestion, air pollution and divested pedestrian paths. People are getting angrier as they are forced to sit in trac all day. We should have better roads, inclusive transport that also caters to non-motorised transport and an organised and ecient public transport system. But we don’t. Instead, we buy more cars and even a nine-year old can tell you what model of a car he would buy when he can a„ord one. No one thinks of owning a cool ‘gazelle’ bicycle.

In the last decade, Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, has witnessed growth both skyward and outward, swallowing formerly rural and suburban areas. Nairobi’s population is approximately 4 million at present and is projected to be 14 million in the next three decades. The challenge of a growing population has been compounded by the growing middle- class buying vehicles as soon as they can a„ord them, to the tune of 5,000 vehicles imported every month, that is, 60,000 vehicles every year, while the most popular public transport and non-motorised transport are squeezed out to make way for the car, which has dominated much of the available urban space, contributing to spatial injustice. It is common practise to react to trac flows exceeding road capacity by expanding and growing the existing roads. However, this only favours more car use, butdoes not contribute to better flows in terms of persons moved within the city.

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