This is how to deal with insecurity in the capital city

By Evans Kidero

Insecurity creates unnecessary anxiety, high levels of uncertainty, and distorts the cost of doing business. But we need not always be like this

Almost every survey that has been carried out in recent times to find out what issue greatly worries residents of Nairobi, security – or rather insecurity – has consistently topped the list.

One recent survey showed that 64 per cent of Nairobians rate insecurity as their greatest concern; much higher than unemployment, lack of proper housing, water and sanitation.

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Personally too, this is an issue that is very close to my heart; as a resident of Nairobi, a parent and a businessman. It does not matter where we live in the city – from the so-called leafy city suburbs to the informal settlements often referred to as slums – but the question of security is always in our minds.

Insecurity creates unnecessary anxiety, high levels of uncertainty and distorts the cost of doing business in the city. But it need not always be like this.

Since my move from Mumias Sugar Company, I have spent a lot of time and resources thinking and consulting about how to deal with insecurity in the capital city.

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In my interactions with city residents as well as from information collected through research, it emerges that the greatest contributing factors to insecurity are: Unemployment, informal settlements, unplanned urban development, high population densities, volatile ethnic politics, existence of organized gangs and lack of political will to tackle crime.

As the Governor of Nairobi County, I intend to make the business of ensuring security of all Nairobians my number one priority. How can this be done?

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By identifying the problem (which we have already done) and coming up with viable and long-lasting solutions, insecurity can be made a thing of the past in Nairobi County.

Addressing unemployment and creating work for idle youth who often make the bulk of perpetrators of crime will be the pillar of my administration. As an established businessman with extensive experience as a corporate executive, creating jobs has always been part of my life.

It will not be any different when I am Governor of Nairobi County. Another priority area in tackling insecurity will be finding a solution to the problem of informal settlements and unplanned urban development.

According to a survey carried out by Development Studies Institute of London School of Economics, over 60 per cent of Nairobians live in informal settlements such as Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho among others.

Residents of these areas lack formal and rightful access to land, housing and essential services. These factors greatly contribute to lowering the quality of living and naturally become breeding grounds for crime and insecurity.

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By addressing the problems of slum dwellers, we will be indirectly but significantly addressing the problem of insecurity in Nairobi County.

An offshoot of unplanned urban development is structures that do not provide for good and quick access for police and lack adequate lighting.

Good urban planning will considerably reduce crime rate and insecurity in the capital city.

With good urban planning also come balanced distribution of population ensuring that city boroughs only accommodate the optimum population that can safely be contained in that given region.

Nairobi has not had a comprehensive development plan since 1973 and this is the reason the city has grown haphazardly.

Negative ethnic politics is another causative factor to insecurity in the city. Because many politicians in the country rely on bedrock of ethnic support to survive, they naturally avoid addressing the issue of negative ethnic politics.

 Burying head in the sand like an ostrich has never been; is not and will never be my style.

The city is also infested with dozens of organised criminal gangs but often there is lack of political will to squarely deal with them because of vested political interests.

That will definitely not be my approach. Of course you cannot tackle insecurity without addressing the question of policing.

Right now the ratio of policemen to citizens in Kenya is way below the requisite international benchmark.

We have a policeman to citizen ratio of 1-1,150 while the international ratio is 1-450.  This means that our policemen and women are overworked, over-stretched and of course underpaid.

The writer is a former Managing Director of Mumias Sugar Company and an aspiring Governor for Nairo

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