Sakaja right on orderly city |


One of the greatest challenges in urban planning is “managing the growth of a highly urbanizing city”, so said Doxiadis. Where and how do you allocate everyone?

This is the time-ticking problem in Nairobi and exactly what Governor Johnson Sakaja is hectically trying to fix.

It is high time the governor, town planners, urban practitioners and all other stakeholders firmly protected the city from becoming extinct. Though timely, that comes at a huge cost.

One of the cornerstones of ensuring walkabilty in a city is creating enough sidewalks for pedestrians. In the lower part of the CBD, most of the building facades, street frontages, walkways and green buffers are blocked by traders displaying their wares.

This causes congestion, blockage of pedestrians, squeezing of roads and walkways and confusion.

Near the Tom Mboya statue, passengers queuing to board Super Metro buses block the walkway yet the sacco has been allocated an entire backstreet to use as pick-up/drop-off zone. This is replicated in almost every other bus stop. Boda boda use the wrong lane, squeezing into every free space. It’s confusing and unsafe for the riders and other road users.

Understandably, the thousand of small-scale traders seek their fortunes in the streets of Nairobi due to the hard economic times, but we need to create a city of order. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Let’s not reduce the entire Nairobi to a marketplace, threatening many years’ efforts of creating a safe walkable city with pedestrian-oriented infrastructure.

Relocation of the hawkers to specified streets that have no bus stops, stages or backstreets, creation of more markets and holistic urban planning would help in solving this catastrophe.

To create a pedestrian-friendly city, roads should be designed with enough sidewalks and safe paths for walking or biking. Noise levels should be controlled. Public transport should be convenient and easily accessible. The bus rapid transport is overdue.

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