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Mass Rapid Transit System

The plans for a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) aimed at decongesting Nairobi County is now set to kick off, following an agreement by governors from the five counties whose proximity to Nairobi County is crucial for the plan.

Governors Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), William Kabogo (Kiambu) and David Nkedianye (Kajiado), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during a meeting convened by Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau yesterday. Machakos was represented by Roads and Transport Executive Kioko Luka and his Trade and Industrialisation counterpart Sunil Dhal.

“You cannot decongest Nairobi unless you provide a transport that will deflate the congested city and that’s why all of us have to come together so that the deflation happens outside and Nairobi can breathe outwards, “said Nairobi governor Evans Kidero.

The MRTS will incorporate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and a commuter rail which have both been identified as the most efficient transport system of the future. There will be a clear lane dedicated to buses and another for trams.

The system will see the creation of radial, interconnected roads such that, you can for instance commute from Eastlands to Westlands, without having to come to the city centre as is the norm.

There will be Railway City, a development proposed on the current railway land near the railway station, where office blocks and other commercial enterprises will be erected.

Evans Kidero

A mass rapid transport system (MRTS) will be deployed along the Outer Ring, Jogoo, Mombasa, Limuru, Lang’ata, Ngong roads and Waiyaki Way corridors, where a commuter railway line will run alongside the roads currently being expanded.

Long-distance public vehicles will not be allowed into the city centre and the traditional matatus will only come in handy in providing feeder services to the MRTS.

The Sh89 billion Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) is planned to pass through Kikuyu, Kitengela, Machakos, Limuru, Thika, Ruiru, Athi River and Kajiado, thus the agreement by the governors was very crucial if the project was to be actualized.

The World Bank and European Union have welcomed the agreement.

Phase 1 of the project, which is expected to kick off in 2017 and be complete by 2030, will give priority to the bus transit system network because it is easier to create. The bus transit routes will then determine the rail system.

Phase 2 is set to begin after 2030 and will entail the actual process of constructing the lanes using the laid down network.

“The signing of the MOU is very important because it basically allows us to create a framework for creating the Nairobi Metropolitan Authority that will be in charge of the mass rapid transit. We are moving the responsibility from the ministry of transport and handing it to all the county governments surrounding Nairobi, “said Michael Kamau, CS transport and infrastructure.


Cabinet Secretary for Transport Eng Michael Kamau

Traffic in Nairobi is quite a mess, with the situation getting worse by day. It is estimated that traffic congestion costs a hundreds of millions in dollars annually through lost hours and cost of wasted fuel.

According to the 2011 Nairobi Mass Rapid Transit Study, The Chronic State of Traffic Congestion in Nairobi takes the lead in the Issues of Concern in the Transport Sector.

“Compared with the traffic condition in 2004, traffic congestion has worsened over the time in extent and area. Since the growth in population as well as sharp increase in car ownership is inevitable in future, quick fix type of measures will not solve the problem fundamentally.” The study reads in part.

Compared with 2004 traffic survey, total traffic increased by 1.66 times. Private cars increased 106 thousand times, which occupies 63% of total increase while motorcycles increased 9.4 times and light truck increased 3.0 times.


The mass transit system falls under the Integrated Urban Development Masterplan for the City of Nairobi (NIUPLAN), 2014 which outlines proposals for Urban Planning, Population, transport and Infrastructure.

The objective of the Integrated Urban Development plan is to “develop concepts for implementation of urban development projects for sustainable urban development and improvement of living conditions based on integrated urban development plan for Nairobi city.”


The urban development plan also estimates that the total number of jobs will rise to 2.8 million by 2030, up from 1.8 million in 2013. These will be in the wholesale and retail sectors, hotels and restaurants, education, financial intermediation and construction.

The plan will also enhance efficiency and growth in the rest of the countries as well.


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