Meet Prof. Washington Yotto Ochieng, Kenyan man who designed London Congestion System

Many Kenyans do not know that the man who designed the London Congestion System is a fellow countryman.

Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng currently the head of the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College London UK. Ochieng was part of the team that developed the first European navigation system helped transform London UK transport system.

Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng is the Head of the Centre for Transport Studies and Chair of Positioning and Navigation Systems in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London.

He is also the Director of the Imperial College Engineering Geomatics Group (ICEGG).

After gaining a PhD in Space Geodesy at the University of Nottingham, Prof. Ochieng worked there as a Research Associate before moving to Racal Electronics (Thales) as Principal Engineer (Navigation specialist) where he participated in various international industrial consortia developing satellite navigation systems and products. He moved to Imperial College London in 1997.

Professor Ochieng’s research interests are in the design of positioning and navigation systems for land, sea and air applications; Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

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He has made significant contributions to major international projects including the design of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and GALILEO, GNSS measurement error modelling, specification of aircraft trajectory management tools for the Single European Sky’s ATM Research (SESAR) programme, and integrated positioning and navigation systems for for many applications including ITS.

In 2013, Prof. Ochieng was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in recognition of his exceptional contribution to engineering.

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The Kenyan, who is the head of the biggest Centre for Transport Studies in the World at Imperial University College, is credited for having designed the London Congestion System

Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng’

The theory behind the system was for motorists to be charged to drive through certain parts of the city thereby reducing the number of vehicles operating in it.

Surprisingly, London’s traffic authority had at one time dismissed his contribution by questioning his qualification.

A spokesman for the authority stated, “He really does have a lack of understanding of this scheme. He’s an advocate of satellite technology; that’s his area of expertise and I really don’t know why he’s talking about this.”

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The Congestion charge is £11.50 which translates to about Kshs 1,500 daily for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Drivers are allowed to free access on weekends, public holidays, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive, or between 6:00 pm and 7:00 am on weekdays.

Vehicles also incur extra charges if they produce harmful emissions according to the set standards.

The system also has incentives for motorists whose cars are environmentally friendly- fully electric and hydrogen fueled.

Some of the vehicles that are exempted from the charges are models of BMW, Audi, Tesla, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, and Toyota.

Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng lecturing students from Nanjing Normal University
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