Prof Washington Yotto Ochieng: The Kenyan Who Fixed London Traffic Crisis

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Prof Washington Yotto Ochieng: The Kenyan Who Fixed London Transportation Crisis
Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng Photocredit/imperial.ac.uk Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kenya has and continues to produce brilliant minds with their impact felt worldwide. Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng is one such Kenyan who was born in Nyanza and went to find success in the United Kingdom. He is credited with fixing the traffic crisis of the country’s capital through developing the London Congestion system. Seeing the potential in him, Governor Johnson Sakaja appointed him in his team that seeks to fix Nairobi traffic.

Here is his story as told by WoK.

Background

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Prof. Washington Yotto Ochieng was born in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay county. He attended the then Kisumu Technical High School for his O and A level secondary school education. He joined the University of Nairobi where he graduated in 1988 with a BSc (First Class) in Engineering. He was a recipient of a scholarship at University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom where he pursued his masters. He later acquired a PhD in Differential GPS (DGPS) and fiducial network design.

Career Journey

After completing his education in 1993, Prof. Washington relocated to France where he began his journey in designing transport related systems. During a past interview with Alex Chamwada that aired in the Daring Abroad show, Washington revealed that he was part of the team that developed the first European safety space navigation system.

“I was instrumental in creating the first European Safety space navigation system. This was during my time working in France for the French Space agency and the European space agency. I’ve also developed what is called sat-nav type algorithms and mathematical models for the likes of BMW and Toyota,” he explained.

He would later move back to the United Kingdom where he joined the Centre for Transport Studies and Imperial College in London in 1997. At the institution, he has been involved in several international projects including the Global navigation satellite system (GNSS), European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), Galileo and the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR). In 2021, he became the Vice President of the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN). He is currently the head of the Department of Civil and Environment Engineering at the Imperial College of London. He is also the chair of the Science Museum Advisory Board (SMAB).

Fixing the London Transportation Crisis

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Washington is credited with fixing the transportation crisis in London through his research interests in the design of positioning and navigation systems for land, air and sea applications: Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM). The design is now commonly known as the London Congestion System. The idea behind the system was for vehicles to be charged to drive through various parts of London thereby reducing the number of motorists using the roads. Drivers are however allowed free access on public holidays, weekends, between 6.00pm and 7.00am on weekdays and during Christmas day and New Year’s Day.

Getting appointed by Governor Sakaja

Nairobi County governor Johnson Sakaja appointed Prof Washington Ochieng as the traffic advisor in his government. During his speech on 26th October 2022, Sakaja observed that the traffic crisis in Nairobi is a headache to many and that the London-based expert will help in providing long-lasting solutions to the problem.

“On mobility, we must get a city where we cannot spend hours in traffic. I have nominated Prof. Washington Yotto Ochieng. He has sorted out mobility in London and Beijing and he is a resource that we will rely on as an outside eye looking in to sort out our issues of mobility,” he said.

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