A Kenyan engineer has bagged an international award for creating an Intelligent Traffic System that is currently being piloted on parts of Nairobi roads.
Engineer Nicholas Airo, whose company NAS International Holdings Limited designed the intelligent system that can give traffic from each side of the road time to move or stop depending on the number of vehicles on each side of the road junction, was awarded the Excellence in Roads Africa award in Ghana on Wednesday.
The award, presented to him by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, is an initiative of the US-based International Road Federation.
NAS holdings had nominated the Nairobi’s Ngong Road Intelligent Transport system for the award that recognizes efforts towards better, safer and smarter road systems.
The system uses video and sound analysis to detect which side of the road has more traffic and gives traffic from that side more green light duration compared to traffic from other sides of a road junction with fewer vehicles.
Speaking after he was awarded, Eng. Airo thanked the Kenyan government for giving innovation a chance that saw the project piloted on Ngong road and a few adjacent junctions.
“I must appreciate what the government of Kenya is doing to open up the new project targeting ITS (intelligent Transport System) for both the traffic control and BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) as well,” he said.
“We need to shift our focus from vehicle-centered design to people-centered design for our roads. We should be judged based on how many people we can move from one point to another and not how many vehicles we can accommodate.”
Kenya has been grappling with a costly traffic congestion that is eating into the economy and pushing capital intensive road expansions to cope with increasing vehicle traffic.
“We cannot keep expanding the roads and building interchanges, there is a limit on what we can handle and that’s why Intelligent Transport Systems in traffic management is key to address the never-ending expansion of roads, and I appreciate what Tanzania and Ethiopia is doing for the BRT and ITS,” Eng. Airo stated.
The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) has piloted the system on ten junctions along the Western Ring Road and Ngong Road.
The move is said to have largely helped manage traffic, although its impact is yet to be fully felt because the same roads are linked to others with manual traffic management or the old traffic lights that count down the specified time no matter how many vehicles are on the junction.
The government targets to connect all the 81 major junctions in the city in a multibillion deal that is expected to be executed by a consortium of firms.
Past winners of the traffic management award include Dubai-based Intelligent Transportation Systems Hazen.
“Let us all push on the localisation of our solutions to strengthen our local economy. I want to take this opportunity to appreciate the Kenya Urban Roads Authority and Ministry of Roads for the opportunity to serve our country through skills on ITS,” Eng. Airo added after receiving the award.