Monday, August 21, 2017

Give back our pavements, Governor, or else...

Governor,

Congratulations. Now that you're the man in charge, there will be many opportunities for you to screw up. Please try and avoid them. Our needs as residents of this city are many and we shall hold you responsible if they are not addressed. We won't hold your deputy or members of your executive to account. We shall lay it all on you. Your predecessor failed to learn this vital lesson in the five years he was in charge as mounds of garbage grew and pavements were commandeered by boda boda operators and their motorcycles, the resurgent street families, the obstructive "hawkers", matatus and, believe it or not, banks and the national government.

You have set yourself the task of sorting out the garbage problem. In a month we'll see whether you are all hat and no cattle. One of our bigger problems as visitors, users and workers in this city is how we cannot walk with ease in the city's business district. If you are on the wrong side of Moi Avenue, it is matatus, boda bodas, hawkers and taxis that have commandeered our pavements, forcing many of us to walk on the road, dodging still more cars, matatus, boda bodas and, ironically, hawkers. The situation along Haile Selassie Avenue, between the Retail Market and Coffee Plaza is emblematic of this phenomenon. If you want top marks for your leadership, we want our pavements back!

If you walk on the right side of Moi Avenue, it is the national and county governments that are the most egregious offenders. Your predecessor excised a large portion of Wabera Street outside City Hall in the name of security. Those barriers should be removed; they have constricted the available space to pedestrians and put us in danger of being run over by motorists. But the asinine behaviour of the national government is inexplicable. Ropes and chains have cordoned off vast swathes of pavement -- along Taifa Road next to Jogoo House A, along Harambee Avenue outside Vigilance House, Harambee House, Harambee House Annexe and Sheria House, along Haile Selassie Avenue outside the Central Bank, along L.T. Tumbo Avenue again outside Vigilance House but also outside Times Tower, Central Bank, Herufi House and the National Treasury. Then you have land grabs such as the one outside Kencom House on Nkrumah Avenue. We need our pavements back!

All government buildings, whether they belong to the national government or the county government, have adequate security. It is not necessary for the both of you to take over public spaces in the name of security. As you are very well aware, not all of Nairobi's visitors, residents or workers own motor vehicles; pavements are the only way we can get to work or make our appointments. If you don't restore our pavements to us, there will be hell to pay come the next general election.

We will reserve judgment on your promises regarding water services, public health and sanitation, county healthcare services, public transport and public safety. If in one year there is no improvement in any of these things, our disapprobation will be made very, very clear. For now, though, GIVE US BACK OUR PAVEMENTS!

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