Intra-urban Mobility And Urban Transportation: A Case Study Of Nairobi City, Kenya
Urbanisation has, of recent, become a focal point for demographers, especially in developing countries. The concern is due to the tempo if not the level of urbanisation. The high growth rate of urban population is accompanied by many socio-economic problems among them urban public transportation. This study aimed at evaluating the extent to which supply of urban public transportation services has equalled demand ( a result of the high urban growth rate) for such services in Nairobi. Kenya Bus Services (KBS) and matatus were the public transport carriers used in the evaluation. Urban growth rate in Nairobi has been at 5 percent and over per annum and is expected to continue at this rate up to the year 2000: With rural-urban migration having an upper hand in this urban-& growth, it is estimated that at least 50 per cent of the urbanites in Nairobi will be migrants by 1985 and at least 40 percent by the year 2000. The nature of spatial population distribution is unfair to the urban poor because they are pushed to the periphery hence forced to pay more for transport or walk long distances to and from their work places. Since 1934, KBS had monopolised the provision of public transportation services until 1973 when matatus were legalised to carry passengers through the Presidential Decree (1973). The coming of matatus has been seen as being inevitable since KBS had experienced deficits of 4.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent in their services provided in 1962 and 1972 respectively. However, matatus have brought some chaos with them: with no fixed fare-structure, route schedule and separate bays, matatu operations have been characterised by erratic random behaviour. They are seen in every corner of the city as they lure customers with the rampancy of overloading, overspeeding, obstructing other road-users and jumping traffic lights. In spite of their-evils, the services provided by matatus, as they complement those from KBS, are indispensable, especially at peak hour periods. With the daily ridership in the region of 250,000 passengers in 1981, matatus increase has had a negative effect on KBS operations whereby matatus had acquired 42 per cent of the market share in 1979. KBS has always looked at matatus as uncalled for competitors hence the campaign to annihilate them through reductions of fares on various routes. Proportion of potential passengers hence the level of demand has been commensurate with increase in population. Estimated at about 20 per cent of the total population in Nairobi in 196?" the level of demand rose to 25 per cent in 1972, 30 per cent in 1979 and 32 per cent in 1981. It is expected that by 1985, the demand level will still be 32 percent. Of the peopIe who use either KBS or matatus, the mixed usage of the two has resulted into KBS accounting for 60 per cent and matatus 40 per cent of the passengers carried (1981). Although the availability of services increased with the corning of matatus, the combined effort from KBS and matatus still falls short of the demand. Overcrowded buses, people stopping/hanging on matatus and buses/matatus passing non-stop at intermediate bus-stops are common sights during peak hours. While matatu services helped to reduce the deficit percentage from 4.3 in 1962 to 2.0 in 1972, this percentage increased to 3.5 in 1979 and 5.3 in 1981. The least growth rate in the number of matatus during the period 1979-1981 coupled with the overhaul in the KBS operations then, are among the causes for the rise in the deficit. With the assumption that the population growth rate in Nairobi remains at 5 per cent and that the demand level remains at 32 per cent of this population in 1985, the deficit in supply will rise to 6.1 per cent. Of the various implications that accrue from the attempt of marching supply with demand include: more and more people having to make most of their trips on foot, both roads and vehicles being overworked due to congestion hence accentuating the vulnerability of road accidents, many semi and unskilled persons directly or indirectly being employed in matatu-related jobs hence a source of inducement for potential migrants. Apart from the call for immediate attention on the effective control of matatus, improvements on traffic signals within the city centre, improvements on Juja Road and sections of Jogoo Road that are past their life-times, it is sincerely hoped that the situation in Nairobi will be used as an example so that proper planning and implementation of public transportation services in our smaller towns that are growing can avoid some of the mistakes.