THIKA TRAFFIC MESS – TIME FOR LEADERS TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.

The last few days have exposed the traffic deficiency within and around Thika town. The town has simply grown faster than its roadways can support resulting to hours and hours in the traffic jam.
When the Thika Superhighway became a reality, it came as a great relief for both Thika and Nairobi residents. Its impact accrued in numerous ways resulting in massive economic and social benefits quickly being visible and quantifiable.
First came the drastic drop in bus fare where commuters could now do the same journey for as little as Sh.50. This directly influenced the people's travel patterns. Mobility level increased as a result with more and more people getting lured to making social visits and recreational journeys to the city.
Speedier movement of people and goods to and from Nairobi encouraged more trade between these two urban centres due to convenience and a cheaper cost of transportation. As a result 'Thika became Nairobi', anything in the city being readily available in Thika.
The inhabitants of Thika started acquiring vehicles and motorcycles in their numbers. Traffic increased drastically not only on Thika Road but also on our town's roads. Traffic jams and lack of parking space became the order of the day, something that Thika residents only related to Nairobi City.
The snarl-ups along Kenyatta Highway near Gatitu or Haile Selassie Road towards the Chania Bridge near Blue Posts Hotel and the persistent parking space nightmare within the town's Central Business District (CBD) are good examples of the rise in the number of vehicles partly triggered by the completion of the Thika Superhighway.
Basically, Thika has very few inlets and outlets when we talk about traffic flow, especially when it comes to traffic to or from Nairobi which is the busiest. Other than Kenyatta Highway that exits and allows entry at the Gatitu junction, the only other option is the Haile Selassie exit and entry point at the Chania Bridge near Blue Post.
This simply means that when traffic overwhelms either or both points, the entire Thika town gets to feel the pinch. Everything else stalls and no one can move.
The Gatitu junction bears the blunt of everything as it serves traffic from the Nairobi direction and traffic in and out of the counties of Machakos, Kitui and Garissa who use the busy Thika-Garissa Highway. Even though Kenyatta Highway is a dual carriage road, it is usually “chocked” at the Gatitu junction bottleneck, which directs vehicles into Thika-Garissa Highway that is a narrow two-way traffic highway, forcing vehicles to have to wait for long to gain access either way.
The free flow of vehicles from Nairobi is also chocked into a single lane as they get into the Thika flyover near Ngoingwa. This spills the gridlock back into the Thika Superhighway and into Haile Selassie Road as motorists escape Gatitu via the Blue Post route.
Another very serious cause for traffic within and without the town is the disorganisation of the town’s CBD. The Thika CBD is simply a one very confused and disorganised concrete slum where everything goes and every man for himself rule reigns….. Every road and packing space is a matatu, tuktuk, bodaboda or taxi stage. The remaining spaces are either taken up by the street vendors or serves as a loading/offloading zone for shop owners.
This crazy arrangement only creates confusion and derails traffic flow at any given time.
WAY FORWARD?
The leadership, both in national and county governments must burn the midnight oil to come up with a permanent solution to the traffic/packing menace.
This is the time to really think outside the box. This is the time for leaders to work as a team to lobby for funding to, for instance, have an interchange at the Gatitu, Engen and BAT junctions to avoid the inter-crossing of vehicles as the join the Thika-Garissa Highway.
This is the time for these leaders to lobby for funding to have the Thika-Garissa Highway upgraded into a dual carriage highway all the way to Kilimambogo at least. This is the time for these leaders to lobby for funding to have the Thika flyover near Njomoko and Haile Selassie Road expanded to two or more lanes to accommodate the high demand of traffic.
This is the time for the leaders to fight for more exit and entry points such as the one being advocated by the area MP Eng. Wainaina that seeks to have PSVs exit the Thika Main Bus Terminus through Upper Rd, Thika towards the Del Monte farm and out to the Thika-Kenol Highway at the Thika Sports Club junction.
This is the time to lobby for the actualisation of the Greater Eastern Bypass that was mean to offload Thika-Garissa Highway at Kilimambogo through Munyu-Juja Farm and eventually to link up with the Eastern Bypass in Ruiru. We also need leaders lobbying for a similar bypass from Makongeni to link up with the Greater Eastern Bypass and another exit at Broadway High School to link up with the Thika Superhighway through Athena and Witeithie in Juja Sub-County.
All these bypasses combined with the one joining BAT and Del Monte, will ease traffic towards the town centre.
As for the disorganisation within the CBD, it is a manifestation of some failed leadership. We cannot have a slum in the name of a town and then claim prudence in leadership. For this, we only call for leaders leading by example.

Ni hayo tu kwa sasa……. 

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