City Hall has introduced a new traffic lights system that is set to give pedestrians more control on roads in Nairobi.
Nairobi County Roads, Public Works and Transport Executive Hitan Majevdia explained that the new digital zebra crossing technology, which is currently being piloted, is aimed at improving the safety of pedestrians, especially children and disabled people.
He said that currently, pedestrians are at the mercy of motorists, who sometimes do not give way to those on foot at the traditional zebra crossings, sometimes leading to people being knocked down on the road by motorists and cyclists.
“We installed a trial one three days ago to begin with. We intend to spread it to the high traffic volume streets and avenues across the city centre,” said Mr Majevdia on Wednesday.
According to statistics by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), pedestrians are still the most vulnerable road users compared to motorists with 453 having already lost their lives since the start of the year out of a total of 1,192 road fatalities recorded as at May 9, 2019.
The county executive said that the system is used in developed countries such as the US and UK, adding that he hopes that it will restore order and sanity on city roads.
Mr Majevdia said that the project is the sole initiative of the Nairobi City County government and, already, the digital gadget has been installed along City Hall Walk on trial to monitor how it works before it is replicated in all roads in CBD.
He explained that the system works by a pedestrian pressing a button then waiting for a signal from the traffic light which will bleep when it is all clear to cross the road.
A green light is a go ahead for pedestrians while a red light is a signal for motorists to stop until the pedestrians cross to the other side.
“You press and wait. You will see the blip has gone off showing a red signal. When the blip goes on, you can now cross as the green signal will be showing prompting motor vehicles to stop. The blip tells you to cross. You do not have to read or see the traffic light signal, the blip will tell you,” he said.
Mr Majevdia said that pedestrians will have 16 seconds to cross the road after the bleep and county government traffic marshals will also be at hand to help pedestrians to operate the system and also deter errant motorists.