Monday, February 06, 2017

Anyone but Kidero/Mueke in 2017

The Nairobi business district, as opposed to the Nairobi central business district, is vast, encompassing a territory that extends from the roundabout at University of Nairobi's Main Campus (University Way/Uhuru Highway) to the roundabout at Haile Selassie/Uhuru Highway, to the roundabout at Haile Selassie/Landhies Road, to the roundabout at Ring Road/Race Course Road, along the Nairobi River to where it passes under the Globe Flyover, and along University Way back to the roundabout at Uhuru Highway. It is distinguished by the utter inability by the Government of Nairobi City County to keep things on an even keel.

Traffic management is ashambles. Garbage and refuse collection is notable by its discriminatory nature: most parts of the central business district don't accumulate mounds of garbage while most parts to the east of Moi Avenue almost always have mounds of garbage. The noise, dust and litter is impressive by its persistence. But what distinguishes the Nairobi City County's lacklustre efforts is the manner in which it treats Nairobi's pedestrians: with recklessness and disdain.

Pavements, as we know them, are not the preserve of the walking masses. They must share space with motorcyclists, bicyclists, parked cars and PSVs, "hawkers" selling everything from three-days'-old bananas to used underwear, "open-air" preachers and the aforementioned mounds of garbage. But on social media, one of the Government of Nairobi City County's preferred modes of public communication, you wouldn't know this. By this government's estimates, garbage is collected promptly, motorists and PSV operators haven't colonised pedestrians' walking space, and Nairobi City is as hospitable as can be.

Nairobi, however, both the business district and the suburbs, is a hostile place for the pedestrian. Little, outside of the central business district, has been done over the past four and a half years to cater for the vast majority of Nairobi's pedestrians. Pavements are, at best, potholed strips of tarmac covered in a thick layer of soil where members of the walking public must dodge bicycles, motorcycles and gunnysack mats of tomatoes and snot-nosed toddlers belonging to the tomatoes' vendors. Coupled with the idiotic habit of building walls where part of the pavements used to be, the space left to the teeming masses is too little, heightening the sense of claustrophobia every time one ventures onto the streets.

I don't know what record Messrs Kidero and Mueke, governor and deputy governor, will campaign on for the re-election this year, but if they claim that they have made life easier for Nairobi's walking population, they will invite nothing but scorn. They have failed on so many scores that it is a wonder that they can even claim to have been in office at all. At this point, Nairobi's voters are better off choosing someone else, even the bombastic blowhard Miguna Miguna, the colourful Senator Sonko, the suave and photogenic sax-playing Peter Kenneth, or the the pioneer private-sector street-lighting businesswoman Esther Passaris. Re-electing Messrs Kidero and Mueke is a sacrifice many of us are unwilling to make in 2017.

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