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Badi: Either fit in or change the city

By Nashon Okowa | June 13th 2020

General Mohammed Badi, allow me to address you. You have been wittingly handed great authority and responsibility to be legendary. Nairobi City is in your hands. Seize this moment for posterity. Needless to remind you of the reasons for your unprecedented appointment as Director General of Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), history will be fair enough to document this for future generations.

It would be a travesty if I fail to remind you of just one of your predecessor’s sins; the human tongue is a ravaging beast that few can master. Incessantly, it struggles to break from the York, and if not tamed, its consequence is grief. Simply, power cannot accrue to those who squander their treasure of words. Engrave this in your heart as you serve. As an army general, I am sure you are aware people have a sixth sense for the weakness of others. City residents are the embodiment of this sense. If you show your willingness to compromise or retreat, you will bring out the lion even in those not necessarily bloodthirsty. Be a veritable garden of rules.

General, you have two years to serve this city. There is no time for granular planning, the day is much well spent and the clouds are clearing for sunset. To ensure a meaningful impact before sunset, you have to go for a low hanging fruit as a citadel of your legacy. City master planning is that fruit.

It is the Goliath you must attack. In 1514, Pietro Aretino, son of a poor shoemaker hurled himself to fame in Rome using this strategy; when you are as small and obscure as David was, you must find a Goliath to attack to secure a lasting legacy; something others have shied away from. Schopenhauer wrote too that; “Intellect is a magnitude of intensity, not a magnitude of extensity.” Embark on a single focus of city master planning exercise and walk away with your head high. You have no luxury of time to wonder in the Disney of multiple overreaching.

This city is choking literally with no clear plan in place to save it. This has to be your utmost single focus - intensity defeats extensity.

When the city leaders before you were confronted with this animal, they opted to be blindly married to conformity and wedded to the shackles of greed.

Yet the path we are on of unplanned and uncoordinated developments with questionable legality cannot be the route to Nairobi city regaining its glory.

You must pronto do a master plan for improving the city infrastructure. Expansion of existing water supply network is well overdue. The existing storm water drainages can no longer contain the high volume water surface run-off from the many marooning developments.

Increased abnormal flooding across the city is testament to this. Equally, a transportation master plan for this city must be developed. It is not lost to you that our traffic congestion is rubber stamped in the memory of every visitor that comes to Nairobi. Sewer bursts are becoming a norm that define our residential areas. The already deteriorating environment due to existing trend of development must also be given a clear thought.

The county in collaboration with National Environmental Authority (Nema) should develop a detailed environmental management master plan for the city. Finally, the city urgently require a new re-zoning plan that reflects its age.

Abundance is nature’s way and I posit it has lived to its expectation by providing you with much advice already. I have always viewed bragging as a defect in character, therefore I will not want shove my advice down your throat.

But your time is limited to be trapped by dogma. Filling your valuable hours with meaningless grotesque proportions of work was the drug of choice of your predecessor. Flee from it.

Focus on establishing the city blue print master plan and walk away. You can fit in or you can change the city. You won’t be permitted to do both. Vamos!

- The writer is chair of Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected]

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