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Sakaja must stop takeover of p*destrian paths in city

Monday, April 15th, 2024 05:00 | By
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. PHOTO/Print

It is fact that Kenya’s road infrastructure has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, particularly in Nairobi, where significant investments have been made to enhance transportation networks.

The city now boasts a major ring road encircling its perimeter, widened inner roads, and the celebrated Expressway, which has gained regional recognition.

These investments, totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, are vital for maintaining Nairobi’s position as the business capital of East Africa.

However, amid these impressive developments, there is a glaring oversight. The road network predominantly serves motor vehicles, often neglecting pedestrian pavements and bicycle lanes.

This deficiency presents a challenge for ordinary Kenyans who rely on walking as their primary mode of transportation.

It is important to note that non-motorized transport remains the most widely used mode of travel in Kenya, especially in Nairobi, where approximately 45 per cent of people rely on walking for their daily trips.

Many others utilize these non-motorized transport options to access public transport. These pedestrian pathways serve as lifelines for those unable to afford transportation cost, offering a dignified alternative, particularly during adverse weather conditions, and providing safer opportunities for exercise for those conscious of their health.

Despite efforts by previous administrations to address this issue by installing several pavements in Nairobi, the disregard for pedestrian rights by motorists has reached unacceptable levels, posing significant risks on roads and the pedestrians.

Encroaching upon pedestrian paths not only violates the penal code but also undermines public infrastructure.

In a world where lifestyle diseases are prevalent, regular exercise is essential. These pavements play a crucial role in providing accessible spaces for physical activity, but that right is being taken away from pedestrians in certain areas in Nairobi.

This is to urge Governor Johnson Sakaja to take decisive action against offenders who encroach upon pedestrian spaces, including garages, cab-hailing vehicle drivers, car wash businesses and matatus.

These actions not only damage pathways but also deprive pedestrians of safe and dignified commuting options, especially during adverse weather conditions.

With plans to implement a nationwide non-motorized transport plan costing Sh182.7 billion, it is imperative to protect and enhance existing infrastructure.

It is heart-warming that the Kenya Roads (Amendment) Bill 2023, sponsored by Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, aims to construct lanes or tracks exclusively for non-motorized transport modes, alongside marked pedestrian lanes on all public roads.

Back to Nairobi.  Governor Sakaja must demand accountability from Chinese contractors responsible for drainage projects that have obstructed roads, such as those along Outering Road.

In the harmony of life, we must strike a balance, much as the contractors did a fair job with the roads, it’s unacceptable for foreign contractors to disregard the basic principles of sustainability.

Pray tell, how did the contractors intend the county to unclog these humongous lids that cover important drainages like those along major roads like Outering Road?

The county must address this issue promptly to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes and ensure environmental sustainability especially during the rainy season for residents of Nairobi.

While these are pressing issues requiring immediate attention from county leaders, the good thing is that addressing them doesn’t necessarily require substantial funding, and it could be a tangible achievement during Sakaja’s tenure. 

 The cost of building a kilometre of non-motorised facilities on both sides of the road is about Sh10 million, according to the Kenya Urban Roads Authority. The cost of maintenance is about Sh1 million per kilometre. The citizens of Nairobi eagerly await action.

—The writer is the Business Editor, People Daily

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