NAIROBI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday launched a commuter railway system that will connect the capital city and 10 satellite towns to help ease traffic congestion within the city.
The project is part of the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Master Plan that is aimed at carrying out modernization and expansion of underutilized railway transport to reduce congestion on city roads.
The system consists of new diesel mobile units and commuter rail buses and the Nairobi Central Station will serve as the nerve center of operations connecting to 10 stations in satellite towns, including newly built stations in Donholm and Pipeline residential estates.
Kenyatta said the railway transport will be extended to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by 2021, allowing air travelers an alternative mode of transport to and from the airport without suffering the frustration of being caught up in the traffic jam.
"We have invested in rehabilitation of the Nairobi Railway station as well as access roads with additional stations to be constructed and will serve an estimated 40,000 passengers a day," he said.
Kenyatta said the government has prioritized the development of the urban commuter rail and to reduce traffic congestions and boost the economy of the city.
He said the government is focused in its implementation of integrated transport network projects in Nairobi to curb the huge losses Kenyans face as a result of traffic congestion.
Kenyatta emphasized that the government's investment in an integrated mass transit is informed by the various transport challenges in the urban areas.
"The estimated value of time lost to travel in Nairobi, as an example, is between 80 million shillings (about 728,000 U.S. dollars) and 400 million shillings per month, with congestion costing the country about 50 million shillings daily. This loss in productivity has impacted adversely the growth of our economy," Kenyatta said.
The new commuter rail network, which will have day-long hourly train service to and from the 10 stations, will also be integrated with a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will connect the Nairobi Central Station with existing minibuses and commuter bus termini.
Kenyatta said the government has so far spent 60 million dollars in upgrading the commuter rail stations within the Nairobi Metropolitan region, including the access roads as well as the integrated and modern ticketing system that accommodates offsite booking.
"But we are comforted by the fact that these investments have already yielded great fruits. During the construction of these 10 commuter rail stations, we had an average of 50 workers per day engaged, culminating in over 180,000 direct jobs created and over 700,000 indirect jobs," Kenyatta said.
He noted that the current over-reliance on road transport has had a negative impact on the environment, saying improving urban transport and mobility in Kenyan cities has economic as well as environmental conservation benefits.
Phillip Mainga, managing director, Kenya Railways said on average they move 30,000 to 40,000 passengers through the station.
Mainga said that everyday Kenya Railways is operating a minimum of three trains in the morning, and another three in the evening, on all these routes. Enditem