19 Oct Looking for a solution to the traffic jam…..
Traffic!! Traffic !! Traffic!!
I know of many many places where human’s patience is put to test … personally am tested when you know its raining and we got to stand in this shelter for the rain to stop and a guy lights a cigarette…. Lawd have Mercy! But another place am so sure works up most of us is traffic. I avoid traffic like a plague and am sure we all do but at one point it has to punish you.
Reports say we lose close to 50million a day in traffic. If you are good in mathematics you can see how many months we can take to balance out our current national budget if only we could look at traffic as a serious issue. But hey, guess there other more serious issues to deal with like why wheelbarrows are now being bought for 100k each.
But seriously what is the solution to traffic jams? Carpooling? Shuttle services? Rapid railway network? Tram services within the city? Cycling? Developing Mobile Apps to help us escape traffic?
Shuttle services, how far has it gone?? How many would like to carpool? How many of us will agree to cycle to work? I see no hopes at all in developing Apps, am not saying they are not useful but lets face it assuming 10 people using the same app are leaving the office at the same time and the app tells them to use one particular road..when those 10people meet there what do we call that?? I might be wrong though.
We have heard of how much time the government spends in meetings trying to solve this mystery and I just have a feeling them meetings aint gon be over any time soon.
My solution? ……Traffic Lights!!
The power those lights hold is the reason modern cities, yes might have traffic issues but they are not so serious to the point that if it rains no one is moving at all for the next 3-4hrs. Those lights can save a lot if we used them properly. But here is the thing …them alone have 70% to do …the 30% is us the drivers, we got to change our attitude. Laws to be implemented that if you are caught ‘jumping’ the lights maybe death by electrocution . A close pal of mine comes to Kenya and he feels very good because he can jump the lights and not expect anything …In Dubai he tries that Kenyan behavior he will find himself in many problems. Even if all roads are clear but the Red is on …he will sit and wait and that’s the first step in making the lights work for us.
Second part is to chase away all traffic cops on the junctions(read on to see why). You see, once we have instilled into ourselves some form of road responsibility, it will be way easy to get cautious about other drivers on the road and watch out for each other hence no need for police. But because we are different and our tolerance levels vary then the police are around to keep us all on check.
So you might be wondering why I have faith in traffic lights…well its because I was tasked to program them back in 2009. As I sat in traffic on Saturday for a whole 40mins, well its not like I was going anywhere specific but you know, I thought of other people who maybe in those 40mins could have been of great help; no wonder some kept hooting.
So here is the reason I believe traffic lights could be a solution *rubs hands*
I used a program called Micro Win Step 7 for the traffic lights that were there earlier. Its purely machine language. Once done with the configuration, the new program is pushed into a small gadget called the PLC. Its main function is to understand all the variables I put into the program and translate them into the flickering you see on the lights.
So lets pick an example of one junction I did… UON roundabout.
Basically there are four main roads that feed into the roundabout. There are others inside the roundabout but let’s keep those aside for now. In that program I was told to set 120secs as the maximum time for the whole junction. That’s 2min and everyone in the junction shall have moved even if its 100m meters, point is you shall have moved. In 20mins moving 100meters every 2mins that’s a whole kilometer and wallaa you might be out of that junction and maybe out of town.
In the same program I was to factor in 2 periods; the on peak and off peak. On peak being morning and evening when everyone is on the road and off peak being from mid-morning to around 4pm and during weekends. Remember the 2mins rule was still to be applied in those peaks.
What would happen was during on peak for example, I identify which roads are most busy, say the roads bringing traffic into town and would give them more green time than the ones that are leading out of town. That makes sure that as the road out of town builds up the people coming into town are not waiting too long.
With the program set and tested, I was to upload it on to the panel. Now if you check at any junction there is a big metal box around somewhere and that’s where the PLC and all other electrical circuits go. Once in place I flip the switch and the lights come to life.
So here is why I would wish all the cops out of the junctions. On Saturday, I met our side moving and then stopped so I said let me do the maths. The cop on Uhuru highway road leading out of town through the junction was up. 15mins later he still had that road open… 15 whole minutes.
Let me explain the effect of that …the next cop on Nyerere Road took the same amount of time and the next took about 10mins. When it got back to us, it was 40mins later. Basically that’s what happens and that’s the reason why there is traffic, one cop gives 5mins to one road and by the time he’s coming back to them its 20mins later.Now we all know they dont give 5mins, they give more and due to the road network there is a ripple effect that is felt to other roads. In contrast the traffic lights within 2mins everyone and I mean even the pedestrians have moved.
Now tell me don’t you have some faith on them lights?
#Problem to the this Solution
I strongly believe those lights are the best chance we have because in regards to say the tram, for example where is the money for that? Where will the tracks be laid seeing how rigid Nairobi city is to expansion? What of carpooling? A big No to that too and among other reasons is the fact that you just might carpool with thugs. Work Shuttle services? Well yeah that can work if all our work places are willing to invest in buses to go around picking workers from home but are they willing to do so?
We are left with the traffic lights. Wish someone would enforce their use. Problem is the NCC is busy looking for ways to fine barking dogs instead on fixing and enforcing the use of those lights. The Saddest part is that if simple maintenance is proving difficult, is there a chance of having them working properly any time soon?