INTEGRATING NON-MOTORIZED TRANSPORT INTO THE URBAN TRANSPORT SYSTEM A STUDY OF WESTLANDS COMMERCIAL CENTRE

ABSTRACT

In most countries, NMT has developed spontaneously and remains largely the normal process of transportation planning. In Kenya, studies carried out on non-motorized transport and their provision have dwelt on the larger centres in the urban centres in the urban areas and also the CBD. A study of Westlands Commercial Centre, takes a different turn given that it covers a small area yet, steadily growing and attracts land use activities. The case study is representative of the upcoming commercial centres of Nairobi, for example Nairobi west. However, the steady increase in growth and development is without commensurate infrastructure and the few available are overstretched. The challenges notably are faced by the non- motorized users of the urban transport system. They face congestion, poor walking conditions due to the limited number of NMT facilities, and the discomfort associated with it especially in bad weather.

The study looked at integrating NMT in the urban transportation system in Westlands Commercial Centre. Westlands is dynamic commercial growth centre three kilometres from the capitals Central business district at the axis of a road network to the affluent Western and Northern residential suburbs of Nairobi. The study focused on Westlands Commercial Centre, the core unit of the study because it experiences the highest number of pedestrian movement activity to various land uses in the area. The study was centered  on, Ring road Parklands, Lower Kabete road, Waiyaki way, Parklands road, Woodvale groove, and major pedestrian magnate land uses such as ‘the mall’ Sarit centre, Nakumatt Stores, and Westgate. A cross sectional study design was applied in the study. This design is best suited given its nature of taking a cross section of a study area one at a time. Within the analysis, the main issues addressed included; an examination of the provision of non- motorized infrastructure this was carried out using an observational checklist and interviews with the users, an investigation of the challenges faced in integration of NMT infrastructure into the urban transport system. This was done through interviews with the CCN officials and experts on transport issues.  Policy issues were also covered since many initiatives are as a result of policy attached to them. The policies and legal framework on transport were analyzed, including the various institutions with the mandate for NMT infrastructure provision.

Findings on the study on NMT integration show that the area is well planned but the increasing development without commensurate infrastructure poses as a threat. This can be attributed to laxity in implementation of urban management tools such as zoning regulations, institutional weakness especially of the City Council of Nairobi (CCN), the authority with the mandate to ensure that Westlands is developing under the set up policies and regulations. The institutional weakness is also largely attributed to fragmentation of responsibility for roads infrastructure. The existing institutional framework has many players who are not linked optimally, and this has had negative effects on the performance within the roads sub-sector. The current road infrastructure financing is inherent in Central government, is inadequate arbitrary allocated and does not allow for innovative ways for funding infrastructure development and maintenance.

For proper NMT integration into the urban transport system, the government and stakeholders should recognise the significance of this means of transport. That NMT is a sub- system of the urban transportation system and has a role to play. Secondly, the development and maintenance of NMT infrastructure to be supported by the local authorities, in the urban areas the local authority should have the mandate to provide and maintain adequate sidewalks and pavements for pedestrians, footpaths and other facilities for NMT users, including ramps for the disabled. Thirdly, advancement of human resource development in the provision of NMT infrastructure through trainings and lastly, consolidate all existing and future road transport infrastructure financing into a single co-ordiating institution. As far as possible, road infrastructure maintenance should be funded through user charges as the fuel levy and investment by the private sector.