Govt budgets Sh500m to pilot BRT system


Govt budgets Sh500m to pilot BRT system
The Business Rapid Transit lane on Thika Superhighway. PHOTO| COURTESY

The government has set aside half a billion shillings to pilot the bus rapid transit system (BRT) as it seeks private sector players to invest in the same.

The Ministry of Transport has already entered negotiations with a South African firm to source 30 high capacity buses to be used to move passengers across Nairobi in an effort of minimizing traffic congestion.

Transport cabinet secretary James Macharia said should negotiations been completed this week, the BRT system will be rolled out at the end of June.

“We chose South Africa because those buses were ready and it’s quite near. So upon completion of the negotiations, which we will be having this week, we anticipate that after payment they should come within a week or two,” Mr Macharia said in an interview with Citizen Digital.

The National Youth Service (NYS) will initially run the BRT until the joint venture between the government and private sector becomes effective.

The government is banking on the BRT system to improve public commuter services and ease congestion, a plan that will see creation of special lanes dedicated to more efficient buses.

Mr Macharia said the government would create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to partner with matatu owners and vehicle assemblers to take ownership and run the project.

“We expect the private sector to also get involved and they have looked at a number of options. Samuel Kimutai (MOA chairman) and his group have been to India and have identified some buses which will come into this SPV, for which government and the private sector will work out modalities on how that operation will be run,” he said.

The National Treasury is expected to waive duty and taxes to import the buses, which the ministry of transport expects will be passed on to consumers in lower fares.

“At the end of the day we would want this benefit to be passed to the mwananchi. One of the biggest complaints we have had is the exploitation by people in the transport sector,” Mr Machaira said.

Stakeholders are however yet to agree on preferred fare structure.

The buses are expected to have a capacity of between 100 to 160 passengers.

The government will pilot the BRT system on Thika Road which it has already created special lanes for the project.

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Story By Michael Karanja
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