Malawi: City Council to Make Several More Modifications to Decongest Blantyre CBD

7 November 2019

Despite modifying two of the busiest streets in Blantyre's Central Business District (CBD), the Haile Selassie and Glyn Jones, into one way, traffic congestion seems to have even been made worse and not just during peak hours.

Blantyre CBD off peak hours Minibuses contribute to traffic congestion Blantyre CBD taken off peak hours on Monday

However, the City Council assures the general public that the modification measures to decongest traffic flow is still ongoing and they should expect relief very soon.

The congestion sometimes start right from Tambala Food Products along Masauko Chipembere Highway from Ginnery Corner into entry of the CBD and motorists have observed that:

*This is all because there is only one exit from Haille Sellasie Road at what is known as DHL for cars to connect to Glyn Jones through St. Andrews Street

*The flow up St. Andrews Street is slow because they have to give way all the time for cars coming up from Mt. Soche Hotel and it is being suggested that there need to have traffic rights at the spot into Glyn Jones Road

*The observation is that this is so because when the traffic going up the exit from Haille Sellasie Road stops for long to give way, the effect goes all the way down and affect flow of the right hand lane along Haille Sellasie and the ripple effect goes all the way up to the entrace of Haile Sellasie and roundabout clocktower

*It is also suggested that the City Council should elect traffic rights at the pedestrians crossing at Nandos. Pedestrians do not first wait to be given right of way, they just walk inside the road and expect cars to be stopping for them

*The pedestrian traffic flow at this point is always busy and when cars stop for them the ripple effect is the same

*Motorists also feel pedestrian crossing at First Capital for people coming and going to Mbayani is another place suggested that should have traffic rights. Pedestrians here just do the same as what happens at Nandos.

Director of Town Planning and Estates Services, Costly Chanza says the Council is aware of the congestion and that there have plans to rectify the situation through introduction of 3 traffic lanes on Halie Selassie Road to start soon as well as the traffic lights in question.

"Haile Selassie Road is wide enough to have 3 lanes," Chanza said. "This means more traffic volume from the Highway thereby improving traffic flow getting into the CBD.

"The angle parking lots will also be reviewed to be more acute at some sections to provide more space for the 3 lanes."

He also said they will remove all triangular islands at Larji Kulji and near entrance to Larji Kulji/MRA Offices and also to remove clock islands at Standard Bank and Kandodo Corner Shop on Glyn Jones Road.

"This will leave more space for traffic flow," he said.

Chanza said other measures include:

*Increase of bellow mouths at the entrance and outlets of all small roads in the CBDs

*Deleting two parking lots at the entrance (bellow-mouths) and outlets of all small roads to increase vehicular maneuverability.

*All side parking lots on St Andrews Street will be deleted to improve traffic flow.

*Introduction of one way exit at the end of St George's Street (AXA Road) connecting with Glyn Jones Road to the right at a sharp angle. This will deter on coming vehicles.

*Roads users are also encouraged to use Victoria Avenue as another bigger alternative connecting Haile Selassie to Glyn Jones Road.

*Modification of traffic lights in terms of timings, additions at cross roads, Nando's and First Capital Bank crossing points.

*Provision of slip lanes on various roads to improve right turn accessibility. e.g. at Standard Bank on Glyn Jones Road, Crossroads on Victoria Avenue.

*Modification of the Larji Kulji roundabout to enable creation of a right turn for vehicles coming from Glyn Jones Road turning into Haile Selassie Road.

*Removal of a 2-way accessibility on Henderson Street section at Nandos. Vehicles coming from Haile Selassie Road will only have one-way direction onto Henderson Street.

"Those coming down from Apollo Arcade on Livingstone Avenue will not be permitted to turn left at Nandos to connect with Haile Selassie Road, instead will be allowed to connect with Henderson Street."

Chanza says the Council is seriously looking into creating more bypass points such as linking Chinyonga from Chichiri Independence Arch and Chitawira from Ginnery Corner.

"This has been taken seriously by the City Council and other development partners. They will also look into other area bypass points at Kamba, Misesa, Sunnyside/Namiwawa, Likhubula/Chirimba, Ndirande/Makhetha, Kamba to QECH etc.

"Works will start once the funds have been made available in due course."

The Council already started to tarmac the Ndirande/Makhetha bypass for a km or so and Chanza says funds permitting it is expected to be completed in the current financial year.

"In addition to what the Council will do, there are also plans in conjunction with other development partners to also build a car parkade in Blantyre CBD.

"This is a multi-storey car parking building. The site location is the current car park behind Standard Bank and FDH Bank.

"Once completed the facility shall accommodate close to 400 cars, thereby reducing car parking problems in the CBD.

"The City Council is also appealing to members of the general public to plan their trips beforehand when passing through the CBD.

"Those proceeding to Namiwawa coming from Limbe are better off using Mahatma Gandhi Road and connecting to Victoria Avenue at Catholic Institute (CI) Church and later with Independence Drive.

"The City Council will soon be staging a review meeting with various stakeholders to come up with solutions to improve the one-way traffic system," Chanza said.

One motorist, Joe Makandanje said another problem exerting pressure on congestion is failure or ignorance of other road users to observe traffic etiquette.

"You will find that one has branched into the dual carriage from the left at an access junction and his next destination is to use the lane on the right but no matter how long he has indicated to be given way, none or very few do until until he has to stop; waiting to be given way as he nears his point of joining the road to his destination.

"This is the case in point for the congestion at the junction from Mandala residential area at the junction at Christwick for traffic heading towards Ndirande and Magalasi roads.

"When they stop after reaching the roundabout, the long seconds it takes for them to be given way to branch off, cause congestion that starts affecting traffic right at Tambala Food Products," Makandanje said.

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