A college computer student, Patrick Waweru at the University of Nairobi, Kenya has developed a software to monitor and control the traffic of parking lots in Nairobi, Kenya. It is estimated that traffic jams costs Kenya about 37 billion shillings annually as reported by the country’s Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee (TUDC), which attributed the jams to poor city planning. Another source of the gridlock is infrastructure, which is made obsolete by a growing population that is keen on cars. “Much of Nairobi’s road network is more than half a century old and was developed for a city of just 350,000 inhabitants,” said Dr. Osamuyimen Uyi Stewart, an IBM scientist.

In order to solve the problem of traffic congestion facing Nairobi, which includes the inability of motorists to secure parking spaces, young Patrick Waweru decided to proffer a solution, by inventing a software application to monitor the movements of vehicles in the city.

The system he created uses sensors placed on the streets that detect if a vehicle is parked in a particular area. Although it was built and tested on Nairobi streets, it can also be used for parking buildings. The system displays availability of parking spaces on street maps as well as SMS alerts and it can be accessed through a software installed on desktop PC and mobile devices.

At the Innovation Week of the University of Nairobi which held last week the young innovator said that “there will be geomagnetic sensors installed undergrounds on the streets and detect earth magnetic fields. When a vehicle comes, it will disrupt the field and the sensor will detect and send information to our server.”

Even though the circumstances that surround traffic congestion in Nairobi is slightly different from other parts of Africa, they are similar. For instance, the major reason for the gridlocks in Lagos have been identified to be lack of parking spaces for vehicles especially commercial vehicles. It is in light of this that Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor of Lagos, ordered a relocation of bus stops near markets and other congested areas within the state metropolis. Despite several measures put in place by the governments and private initiatives like Gidi Traffic and JonnyWaka App (which serves road users in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Accra), extreme traffic jams are still prevalent in these cities especially Lagos.

In some other parts of the continent, particularly major cities like Johannesburg- South Africa, Cairo-Egypt, Kampala- Uganda and Gaborone- Botswana traffic gridlocks have become severe because of the growth in population and increase in the number of car users.

Patrick Waweru’s invention may just be the way out for other African countries as he has finally gotten the support of the Nairobi government to launch the invention.

 Written by : Emmanuel Odunmorayo

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