The Government has suspended the car-free days in Nairobi for another two weeks.The car-free days plan is part of the project to decongest the city and attract investors.
Transport CS James Macharia said that the postponement will allow them to vet hawkers and traders so that they are sure who will be occupying the area provided.
“The vetting will involve the use of biometrics to identify the hawkers taking into consideration the recent terror attack in DusitD2,” Macharia said.
Transport Principal Secretary Paul Maringa said on Monday that on Wednesdays and Saturdays, motorists will not be allowed on Harambee Avenue, City Hall Way and part of Moi Avenue, and that the space will be left to traders, who can make “up to Sh39.5 million a day”.
Maringa said there will be dedicated parking at Uhuru Park and Railways Station and more than 5,000 stalls will be built during the pilot programme.
“Traders will come in the morning to assemble their stores and in the evening they can be dismantled, stored somewhere and the city is kept clean,” he said.
The decision came after a meeting between the ministry, Nairobi Senator Jonhson Sakaja, Nairobi County officials and hawkers representatives.
On his Twitter feed, Sakaja said he requested for the deferment to allow for more consultation.
“Held consultations with the Ministry of Transport, The Nairobi Traffic Commander, Nairobi County Government and hawkers representatives on the proposed “car-free” days. I have advised them to put off the exercise to allow for better planning and proper public participation,” he said in a tweet.
The Government had planned to use the car-free days(Wednesdays and Fridays) as part of preparations to start the roll-out of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
CS Macharia also said the much-awaited Bus Rapid Transit will be commissioned next month.
He said the first lot – 64 buses – is ready for shipping from South Africa.
The buses have two doors on the right side, driver control safety gadgets and will use electronic fare payment systems.
On Monday, CS Macharia in the company of heads of Matatu Owners Association addressed the media and applauded the expected gains of the BRT system.
During the press briefing, MOA Chairman Simon Kimutai urged Matatu Sacco members not to panic, saying that they will not be affected by the BRT buses.
Organized car free days are held in various cities across the world. It was introduced in mid-2016 in Kigali, Rwanda for instance, and takes place on the first Sunday of every month.
There are also car-free initiatives in some parts of New York and London. “On the first three Saturdays in August between the hours of 7am and 1pm, nearly seven miles of New York City’s streets are open to the public to play, run, walk and bike,” says a message on New York city’s website.