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Road planners must remember we still move on foot

By Mike Nyagwoka | May 22nd 2022 | 2 min read
By Mike Nyagwoka | May 22nd 2022

The Government may have worked very hard to make life easy for motorists in Nairobi; spending billions in the process. Only to make it difficult for 80 per cent of the population.

They forget that many Nairobi residents do not ‘motor’ their way to work. When they do, they have to walk to the ‘motor’. Take the case of the area around Airtel and Standard Group on Mombasa Road. To get to the other side of the road, you have to cut some weight by finding your way to the GM flyover. Now cutting some weight is not a big deal if you have it.

However, many are forced to cut it at the expense of being knocked down by a motor vehicle as you squeeze in between overlapping matatus, careless riders and other pedestrians.

It gets worse if the person who has to do this is one with a disability who has to wad his way through the mud on crutches or on a wheelchair. The blind will find it even harder.

I’m not discouraging State officials from getting inspired during their many trips to first world countries. But they should not only pick development projects that address the need of the elite, the businessmen and the middle class.

They forget that in most of these countries with highly developed networks, nearly everyone owns a car.
In Kenya, the trouble begins with the construction. Paths and crossing points are closed without care and notice.

On Waiyaki Way, for instance, pedestrians have been forced to practice high jump as they try to make their way through the barriers. It has become an unwelcome sport.

There is a cringing video of pupils who have to do the jumping every morning through a barrier somewhere near the ‘Safaricom Stage’. Pupils as young as four years old have to cross, jump, and cross again to get to school and probably do the same on the way back.

The Kenya National Highways Authority and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority must first think about the safety and convenience of pedestrians during and after construction. More pedestrian walkways are definitely needed in the city. A well-planned city must take care of riders, pedestrians and motorists alike. Much more developed cities are moving away from the emphasis on motorized transport to non-motorized transport.

Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs is to have Sustainable Cities and Communities. The key component is to provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for persons with disabilities, children and other vulnerable members of the society. In the wake of the Africities Summit that ended in Kisumu, this is a discussion that goes on.

Non-Motorised- Transport policies formulated in Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa must start to make sense to their intended beneficiaries.

-The writer is a news anchor at Radio Maisha.  [email protected]   

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