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Rename Thika Superhighway, Times Tower and others after Mwai Kibaki

Former President Mwai Kibaki. [File, Standard]

Naming places and projects after great leaders is not a concept alien to the world. Cities, including Vancouver in Canada and Alexandria in Egypt, were named after great leaders.

Former President Mwai Kibaki, who died on 21 April 2022, deserves similar honours. Of course, he was honoured through the renaming of Kenyatta National Hospital Othaya to Mwai Kibaki Hospital after his death. But that was not enough.

Mwai Kibaki Hospital is only likely to remind the people of Othaya about the great leader. His achievements call for much more.

During Kibaki’s tenure, Kenya witnessed massive economic growth; this came against the backdrop of the low economic growth, nay, stagnation during the previous regime.

According to the Economic Survey, 2001, Kenya experienced serious crises with the economy registering the lowest growth rate of negative 0.2 per cent in 2000. However, between 2004 – 2007, the economic growth exceeded 5 per cent for the three consecutive years. This can only be explained by Kibaki’s sound economic policies, stewardship and governance, which we can call ‘Kibakinomics’.

A section of the Thika Superhighway. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

During Kibaki’s term, several road projects came up at a speed and quality never witnessed before. In addition, projects such as the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, the Konza Technopolis, to name but a few, were also conceptualised during his tenure.

In real estate, it is estimated that the value of Kenya’s approved building plans shot up from $48 million to $2.4 billion under his leadership. But I posit that the jewel of the crown is no doubt the Thika Superhighway, which I suggest be renamed Mwai Kibaki Superhighway to immortalise his legacy in infrastructural development.

Times Tower should also be renamed Kibaki Tower to remind us about the country’s economic development under him while Konza City should be called Kibaki Technopolis City due to his push for Vision 2030.

History attests to Kibaki’s love for education as a young man and later a leader. Kibaki’s success in the education sector could not have been accidental. During his presidency, he pursued a policy of free basic education and introduced Free Primary Education (FPE) in January 2003 which led to a steady increase in primary school enrolment.

By 2011, the net enrolment rate was 96.7 per cent, the highest ever in Kenya and comparatively higher than other sub-Saharan and Latin America countries. 

The KICC, Times Tower, and CBK Pension Tower. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

As appreciation to his contribution to the education sector, one of the public universities, such as Technical University of Kenya or Karatina University, should be renamed Mwai Kibaki Technical University or Mwai Kibaki University.

The Kibaki government also prioritised the provision of affordable healthcare in its efforts to achieve the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals and Vision 2030.

Life expectancy rose from 51 to 62 years between 2002 and 2013, coverage of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) was broadened, and immunisation of children rose from 47 to 83 per cent. Pumwani Hospital should therefore be renamed Kibaki Hospital to recognise his contribution to universal health care.

Considering these achievements, it is only befitting in my view, that we name the suggested iconic projects after the third President of Kenya, lest we forget his achievements.