Motorists who regularly use Mombasa Road are voicing their frustrations as the traffic situation continues to worsen. With some individuals reporting up to 5 hours spent in traffic, pressure is piling on relevant authorities to ease the situation.
Traffic disruptions have been primarily caused by the ongoing construction of the Nairobi Expressway. The contractor and the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) have found themselves on the receiving end of criticism for failing to implement effective traffic management plans.
During rush hour on Thursday, August 26, Google Maps navigation which factors in real-time traffic indicated that it would take about 13 minutes less to get to Kitengela from Nyayo Stadium via Kiserian as opposed to using Mombasa Road, despite the Kiserian route being 56 kilometres longer.
Many motorists found themselves on the road way past curfew hours as the traffic was simply not moving.
Social media has been awash with nightmare stories from motorists and pedestrians who found themselves stuck on the road. From lack of signage, to nearly impassable dug-up sections of the road and diversions and no reflective material on the barriers.
The situation has triggered safety concerns as motorists grapple with less visibility and narrower roads, not to mention the dust-filled stretches as construction on the elevated highway continues.
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Covering the last mile has also become a lot more difficult due to the disruptions. Individuals dropped off by the train at Syokimau Station reported being unable to access matatus to take them home to areas such as Mlolongo, which is around 10 kilometres away. Some of them had children, and had to cover the distance on foot or look for boda-bodas as confusion reigns.
The stretches between GM, Syokimau and Mlolongo have been identified by motorists as being among the worst.
KenHa is yet to respond to the flood of complaints from road users, for many of whom the frustration boiled over after the mother of traffic snarl-ups was witnessed on Thursday, August 26.
Aside from the obvious time and money lost in traffic, another aspect of Kenyans’ wellbeing being affected by the situation is their mental health. Research from multiple institutions, including by the University of the West of England, shows that long commutes as a result of urban traffic jams reduce job and life satisfaction, exacerbating life’s other stressors and worsening mental health.
Sample some of the reactions by Kenyans to the dire situation on Mombasa Road:
“Dear employers. If your employee has to traverse Mombasa Road, especially the section between Mlolongo and JKIA to get to the office, just let them work from home. It’s the humane thing to do,” urged Gerald Ngui.
“Mombasa Road users we urgently need to stage a demo to have the contractor build sufficient relief roads as Msa Rd is built. We can’t continue spending at least six hours on the road daily,” shared Michel Otieka, rallying his fellow road users.
” (I’ve) Been on Mombasa Road between Sameer and gateway for 3.5hrs. What is this?” posed a frustrated Tom Makau demanding answers from KenHa.
“Just got home, been in the road since 8pm. A distance of 26kms has taken 7hrs,” wrote Mokayah.
“What happened to dust containment during road construction? The expressway between Gateway Mall and Mlolongo is nothing but a cloud of white dust choking travellers workers and residents,” noted one Ythaka.
“Construction of Nairobi Expressway is now a total shame. The dust levels and the disorganised construction between Gateway Mall all the way to Mlolongo are unimaginable!” a furious Wanjohi Mkulima highlighted.