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This Is The Only Solution To Our Traffic Jams In Thika.

As we all know, traffic is the most important ingredient of any modern town or city. It is what makes or breaks its setup and determines the vast amount of success in creating a working happy city or town. The reason is simple, residents must get from point A to point B in order for anything in the simulation to work. 

Traffic jams on the other hand are one of the major problems in most cities in the world. They are one of the burning questions concerning urban and traffic planning as well as organisation of life and work in them. They are in fact, the consequence of unavoidable motorisation of improper solutions considering construction of roads or organisation of traffic.

In the recent years, Thika’s proximity to the city of Nairobi and other economically viable satellite towns has attracted a large number of people from other areas coming to work and settle in the town. As a result, its road network has ended up being overwhelmed with traffic resulting to motorists and commuters wasting a lot of time and money every day locked in the gridlocks.

For nearly 10 years, Thikarians have endured traffic jams at some hot spots such as the Gatitu Junction that connects Kenyatta Highway and Garissa Road, the Chania Bridge that links Haile Selassie Road to Thika Super Highway near Blue Post Hotel and the stretch of Garissa Road between B.A.T. and Makongeni Police Station, causing all sorts of torture to road users.

The authorities have been making attempts to solve this problem but their solutions are, in my opinion, not so well thought of. They have set out solutions such as expanding, building and upgrading the infrastructure with special focus on the traffic projects. However, may be due to the limited budget, political interests and greed (read corruption and abuse of positions of leadership), the traffic infrastructure has not yet solved systematically. These leaders have dismally failed in their attempt to solve the problem of ‘traffic-bottlenecks’ which are the major cause of traffic jams for the residents.

The first bottleneck that should be removed is the Kenyatta-Garissa Highway crossroad. This spot is always overcrowded with traffic coming from three directions round-the-clock. During peak hours, this section is very chaotic with vehicles blocking the road several kilometers along.

The expansion of Kenyatta Highway to a dual-carriage way never solved the problem because vehicles getting out of town are always ‘bottle-necked’ to one single lane along the Garissa Road, consequently reducing the free flow of traffic by about 50%. The situation is made worse by vehicles heading towards Makongeni and those wishing to enter the town from Makongeni since they have to give each other the right of way at every given time.

This intersection is our worst nightmare. It is good to note that when the design itself becomes the constricting determinant in processing the traffic demand, then an ‘operationally influenced’ deficiency exists. Operational influences are tangible root causes of recurring choke-point delays. The limited physical capacity such as the Gatitu Junction bottleneck contributes to recurring congestion, is tangible in design and function, and therefore, a candidate for remediation.

The development of Karatina Road to free up Kenyatta Highway to me will not significantly solve the problem for it will create just the same bottleneck at its point of intersection with Garissa Road. So, we will end up having two bottlenecks at Gatitu and Metro junctions, worsening the situation.

One great way of freeing traffic is by increasing the capacity of Garissa Highway. This can be made possible by making it a dual-carriage road and reducing the possibility of the vehicles interlocking. In practice, a four-lane road is way better all-around than the two-lane. A large four way intersection is king since it can massively help reduce traffic because unless it is full, motorists won't have to stop. Adding an extra volume at the junction and Garissa Road will allow it the capacity to carry a higher volume of traffic.

We can also free the flowing traffic through effectively splitting the entrance and exits to the east and west sides of the highway using separate one-way small roads. By providing an extra lane for left-turning traffic entering the Thika Town from Nairobi will free up local traffic to go about its business unimpeded by the Garissa Road traffic. An alternate routes for traffic going to and coming from the Makongeni along the highway allow these motorists a direct route to and from Nairobi.  Likewise, providing an alternative route to the highway for vehicles getting out of town towards Nairobi will more than halve the heavy traffic crossing to the Garissa Highway junction.

(See these video Illustrations of similar solutions as done by other countries)

Otherwise, an underpass or a flyover above this section of Garissa Road can also be built to evade the interlocking of traffic at any given time.

The other solution to this problem is by providing alternatives to exit options so as to reduce the number of vehicles on this part of the road. The easiest thing here is to see if there is a way to increase exit routes into the town centre.

Opening up the Chania Bridge on Haile Selassie Road as well using the proposed ‘Thika By-passes’ that are said to be exiting to The Thika Superhighway at Castle Breweries will also go a long way in freeing up Garissa Road.

Over to you our infrastructural planners……

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