Sunday, October 12, 2008

MAKING NAIROBI THE DREAM CITY

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SUNDAY STANDARD
NAIROBI
OCTOBER 12 2008

By Lillian Aluanga

Picture a tranquil and blissful Nairobi free of hooting, touting and loud music in public service vehicles and shopping stores.

Also imagine a Nairobi where pedestrians need not dash across Zebra crossings, as motorists obey traffic lights and where major highways are free of handcarts.

Then visualise a Nairobi where chefs in smoky fish and chips eateries have no scraggy beards, where there are no jua-kali garages grafted along estate fences and where no scrawny chicken, pest infested dogs and cats roam alleys in residential areas.

This is what Nairobi would be if the city’s by-laws were enforced. For years, Nairobi residents have endured noisy matatus, obstruction on city roads, crowded pavements and motorists behaving badly.

The chaos begin in the estates, with matatus jarring residents from slumber as they persistently hoot and bang the sides of their vehicles to catch the attention of the early morning commuter.

It then extends to the roads and highways leading into town, where handcart pushers jostle for space with motorists in unending traffic snarl ups that guzzle petrol and deplete the wallet.

Loud music

Once inside the city centre, Nairobians are also bombarded with loud music from matatus and music stores.

Then there is the first time visitor to the city, bumped off the street at every turn as s/he muddles through buildings.

But now the Nairobi City Council and the Metropolitan Development Ministry have promised to change all that. "The major challenge we face is ignorance by city residents of the by-laws," says the council’s chief public relations officer Wilfred Marube.

He says the General Nuisance by-laws is the most violated and land several people in court daily.

The by-law includes offences related to noise pollution, deposit of debris, encroaching hedges and trees, obstruction and defacing buildings.

Should the city’s By-laws be enforced, then Nairobi residents will saunter down in serenity, with no fear of running into stray cats and dogs.

Major roads and highways will also be free of handcarts, which apart from having scheduled time of operation, will be restricted to certain areas, including Landhies Road, Jogoo Road, Quarry Road, Haile Selassie Avenue, Kinyanjui Road and Racecourse Road.

Handcart pushers operating outside the jurisdiction often part with anything between Sh1,000 - Sh2,000 in fines.

Key targets

As part of its key targets for this year, the council is keen on improving the environment by checking on noise pollution, which includes loud music in public places.

Marube says it’s important for residents to own the process of transforming the city and calls for a change in attitude among Nairobians on matters such as disposal of solid waste.

Citing Eastleigh as one of the areas notorious for dumping, Marube says residents must be more responsible in their management of waste.

He says while the council is keen on educating the public on proper waste disposal, punitive measures will be taken against those who contravene the By-laws.

Already a model bin has been developed on a pilot basis in some parts of Nairobi, to encourage residents to separate their waste and pick out what can be recycled.

To ease its operations the council has identified 55 wards and 8 divisional offices covering Westlands, Kasarani, Langata, Starehe, Makadara, Kamukunji, Dagoretti and Embakasi.

Physical address

First time visitors to the city can also rest easy following the council’s initiation of a physical address system to help identify buildings. A pilot project is underway on Koinange Street, Harambee Avenue, Parliament Road, City Hall Way, Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue.

But even as City Hall fights to restore Nairobi’s glory, it admits garbage collection remains a major challenge.

To tackle the problem, the council aims to collect 100 per cent of the 2,400 tonnes of garbage generated in the city daily. Besides the Sh12 million used monthly for solid waste management, the council has employed staff in 24-hour shifts to sweep streets and promises the changes will soon be felt in residential areas.

"Our plan was to first enforce and consolidate gains within the city centre then move to the estates," Marube explains.

He, however, admits that the council alone cannot handle the task of revamping Nairobi, and it needs collaboration with other stakeholders like National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and the Ministry of Environment.

Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Mutula Kilonzo has also promised major changes that will take the city to same level as Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, South Africa’s Johannesburg, Egypt’s Cairo and Lagos in Nigeria.

Good things

As part of its vision to transform Nairobi into a 24-hour city, the ministry has pledged to ease congestion on city roads by building car parks outside the Central Business District.

Those targeted include the over 290 parking slots to be phased out by December, to allow Nairobians walk freely on city streets.

A new bus service — Smart Bus - which will use swipe cards similar to ATM cards, is also to be rolled out by the end of the year.

To check crime, a metropolitan police and the mounting of surveillance cameras have been proposed.

An officer at the City Council’s Inspectorate department cites low morale among staff, inadequate numbers, poor working conditions and rampant corruption as some of the reasons slowing down the enforcement of city By-laws.

"Our work is not easy. There are times we run into hostile crowds resulting in the death of colleagues," he says, adding a staff of about 1,000 is ill equipped to handle a city with over three million residents.

"We are just doing our job but since most city residents do not know or do not respect the By-laws they accuse us of harassment," he says.

The officer says the council has stepped up its vigilance at Zebra crossings within the CBD to ensure motorists comply with the law, with violators paying a fine of
Sh2, 000.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
October 12, 2008 at 4:06 PM  

"MAKING NAIROBI THE DREAM CITY"

Is George Hussein Obama realizing the Nairobian dream? It appears that his distant half-brother, Barack Hussein, may be close to realizing the American dream. What can Africa News Online do to help George?

Why does "Word Verification" include only characters that appear to have been written by someone not in complete control of his/her faculties?

Interested Observer

angelin said...
October 14, 2008 at 8:38 AM  

There is the Karen Blixen museum – based around the woman that the film ‘Out Of Africa’ was based on but don’t visit unless you really are a fan as there is not much to see here at all. The national museum is fair and free so may be worth a visit.
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