- Unveiled. Under the new ambitious plan that seeks to address the traffic congestion in the country’s capital, commuter taxis and boda bodas are to be replaced by bus and rail transit system, writes AMOS NGWOMOYA.
The new Multi-Modal Urban Transport Master plan for the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) is set to undercut the city’s traffic jam.
The new transport plan intends to phase out taxis and boda boda and replaced them with the Bus Transit System and Rail Transit system.
Also, non-motorised corridors will be gazetted to cater for pedestrians. Currently, there is no non-motorised corridor in Kampala Metropolitan area.
The master plan is part of the second phase of the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructural Development Project (KIIDP). KIIDP-2 is a five-year $183.7m (Shs693 billion) project funded by the World Bank and the government of Uganda is being implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
Overall, it seeks to improve Kampala’s road network and drainage system.
Under the plan, KCCA will construct and operate a robust Mass Rapid System with buses, Light Rail Transit and cable cars by 2040.
The plan, yet to be launched by KCCA, is also set to ensure an environmentally friendly transport system and promote sustainable mobility.
Once implemented, KCCA says this new transport infrastructure will encourage commuters to use sustainable transport modes such as walking, cycling, and buses.
The master plan that was drawn by ROM Transportation Engineering, Cambridge Systematics and TNM consultancies was undertaken between July 2016 and May 2018.
Mr Jacob Byamukama, the KCCA’s deputy director for roads management, says the Multi-modal Urban Transport Master plan is in line with the Kampala physical Development Plan, which aims at creating a well-organised and modern urban metropolitan transport system.
Mr Byamukama says KCCA came up with six main criteria that was used to identify the different modes of transport for GKMA, including; sustainability, mobility, accessibility, and being economically and environmentally friendly and safe.
“The scenario we chose was the one which has about three major metro lines which are very fast, four light rail lines and five bus rapid lines and two suburban lines, giving us a total of 360kms of mass transit in the city that covers the whole of GKMA,” Mr Byamukama says.
But he also says the plan will be implemented in five phases, namely the pilot phase (2018-2021), short-term phase (2022-2025), mid-term phase (2026-2030), long-term phase (2031-2035), and the horizon phase (2036-2035).
The pilot phase includes immediate projects that are to tap into existing conditions and are relatively easy to implement. These cost-effective and critical projects include non-motorised Infrastructure such as walkways, taxi fleet renewal, control centre, traffic management and other parking policies.
The short-term phase was designed to directly build on the foundations laid by the pilot phase and include the operational and maintenance investments for the projects included in it.
As part of the phased concept of the master plan, this phase also includes major progress in the design-and-build parts of the bus system as well as piloting the design for heavy rail infrastructure and building of others, including two Light Rail Transit routes and one metro route.
The mid-term phase focuses on three important aspects: the operation costs of the metro route and the first LRT route, the finalisation of the Bus Rail Transit build and design, and the intense buildings of the rail based MRT to create a network for the phase.
The long-term phase focuses on the operation of three Light Rail Transit routes and two metro routes as well as all Bus Transit routes.
It also includes the final design stages of all the remaining MRT Lastly, the horizon phase includes all operational costs as well as the finalization of the network.
According to the plan, the Suburban Passenger Rail will have the eastern and western routes. The eastern route will stretch from the region of Mukono to Kampala while the western route will stretch from the region of Bujuko/Buloba to Kampala.
The Metro (underground rapid transit) will have three routes. The first Metro will stretch from Namanve to Kajjansi, while the second one will stretch from Namanve to Nansana, and the third one stretching from Kajjansi to Nansana.
The Light Rail Transit will have three routes. The first one will run from Busega to Port Bell, the second one from Kira to Ggaba while the third route will stretch from Ggaba to Namboole.
The Bus Rail Transit will have four routes, with the first route stretching from Mukono to the Central Business District (CBD) and the second one from Entebbe to the CBD. The third route will stretch from Kawempe to the CBD while the fourth route will stretch from Kyanja to the CBD.
The entire project will be funded by government and partners.
Dr Amin Tamale Kiggundu, a planning expert, who also heads the architecture and city planning at Makerere University, says KCCA must first address the key issues such as improving land use before the plan is rolled out. He also says government needs to promote high density urban development because density translates into demand.
Dr Kiggundu warns that it is risky and imprudent for a developing city like Kampala to focus mainly on expanding its road infrastructure, arguing that building of new roads triggers traffic gridlock.
“Over 50 per cent of commuters and travellers in Kampala walk to their work stations, 10 per cent use private cars, 30 per cent use public transport and the rest of 10 per cent use bicycles. It is, therefore, important for the city managers to focus on those modes of transport that are used by the vast majority of commuters such as walking,” he says.
Dr Kiggundu warns: “The current transport policy in cities is not balanced and favours those that use private cars and low capacity systems such as boda bodas.”
He says metropolitan spatial planning approach is also critical in the case of Kampala in part because the majority of people working in Kampala now live outside the city’s boundaries in Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi districts.
Currently, the majority of people flock to the city centre from the metropolitan areas because there are no developed towns where they could engage in business-related activities. As such, traffic gridlock becomes inevitable.
Mr Byamukama says the land use as reflected in the plan is the one which is contained in the Kampala physical development plan where they are projecting new cities in the GKMA.
He says looking at the recent census, KCCA came up with a service targeting 5 million passengers per day.
A recent World Bank report attributes the heavy congestion in the city and the metropolis to lack of public transport. The report says Kampala’s roads are dominated by boda bodas, private cars and taxis which are estimated to be growing at 11 per cent annually. The report shows that while boda bodas represent the largest share of vehicles in the city, they only carry few passengers in a day.
On the other hand, the report adds, the informal mini-bus taxis transport carry the largest portion of people despite making up the smallest group of vehicles using the road. The report adds that a boda boda carries approximately only nine passengers out of the 42 trips daily, private cars carry only nine passengers out of 37 trips daily while taxis carry only 82 per cent out of the 21 trips, which they make daily.
KCCA’s directorate of revenue collection shows that there are 14,000 taxis operating within its jurisdiction while the number of boda bodas is estimated at about 100,000.
The World Bank report stresses that the lack of coordinated routes and stops for taxis as well as their capacity, means that the number of times a taxi has to stop to pick up or put-down passengers, is high hence blocking other motorists. For instance, a bus carries 60 to 65 passengers every trip while a taxi carries only 14 passengers.
This means to carry 65 passengers, which one bus accommodates for only one trip, a taxi will need about five trips. For only two trips made by a bus, a taxi would require about 10 trips.
Currently, Kampala roads are competed for by boda bodas, taxis, heavy trucks and lorries and other private cars, which ultimately causes traffic jam in the city. For instance, Kampala city is littered with illegal stages for taxis and boda bodas, and over 30 illegal bus parks. The uncoordinated transport in the city coupled with the narrow and potholed roads, makes traffic jam inevitable.
For instance, statistics from KCCA show that out of 2100km road network for Kampala and its five divisions, only 586km are paved while the rest are unpaved. Further still, the available public transport isn’t compatible with the current city population.
The 2014 Census put Kampala’s day population at 4 million and the resident population at 1.5 million.
But with the ever swelling population in the city and GKMA, a reliable means of transport is needed.
For instance, the World Bank report projects the population in the GKMA at 10 million residents, but the report says the current road infrastructure can’t keep pace with the soaring congestion. The existing roads in Kampala were constructed in the 1960s to accommodate only 100,000 vehicles per day.
However, the report notes that at least 400,000 vehicles use Kampala roads every day. Even the Northern ring road system, which was completed in 2009, now suffers from heavy congestion.
Existing urban transportation
The transportation system in the GKMA is a radial, corridor-based system with a high share of non-motorised and public transportation. While the high reliance on these modes creates ideal conditions for Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), the public transportation system is predominantly composed of low capacity modes such as 15-seater taxis and Boda-bodas. According to the Travel Habit Survey which was made during the compilation of the Multimodal Urban Transport Master plan report May 2008, pedestrians account for 46 per cent, Boda-boda 17 per cent, Taxi 22 per cent, Cars 13 per cent while others constitute 2 per cent. The survey also reveals that with over 22, 0000 private cars in the GKMA, the survey results show that there are 55 vehicles for every 1,000 people in the GKMA. When compared to rates in Nairobi (42 in 2013), Dar es Salaam (25 in 2009) and Cape Town (206 in 2013), and the necessity to improve public transport is emphasised.