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Save Ongata Rongai residents from constant traffic jams

UREPORT
By Fred Gori | May 9th 2016

When Ongata Rongai residents could not take traffic snarl-ups anymore, they trooped to a Whatsapp group created by one of the residents to express their frustrations.

And during a follow-up meeting held at an entertainment spot in Nkoroi, Ongata Rongai, wary and angry residents recounted their suffering and the growing sense of despair as the authorities seem to be doing nothing to address the traffic nightmare.

A Rongai resident, who works in Nairobi and is required to be at work by 8am, does not have the luxury of much sleep as he or she has to be up before 4am. And whereas being an early riser is not necessarily a bad thing, the trouble is that such resident likely got home after 10pm either because of being stuck in traffic or deliberately staying late at work to avoid the pain of being in traffic.

Many Rongai residents waste up to four hours in traffic, time that could be spent in other productive ventures.

Two weeks ago, representatives of the newly formed Rongai to Kiserian Residents Association (R2K) presented a petition to Ongata Rongai Police calling on the officers to check the impunity among matatu operators.

Although not the only cause of congestion, overlapping, obstruction and general blindness to traffic regulations have greatly slowed down traffic within the town.

The petition also demanded the removal of Kajiado County garbage truck, which literally parks on the road at the main market, Kware. Such garbage should be collected at night as there is simply no open space to park the truck.

Interestingly, the area currently occupied by the market should be the main bus stage while the market should be somewhere near Stage 1. The county government seems to have overlooked its responsibility to build bus parks and markets. Not much has been done in grading bypass roads even as the main Magadi road chokes under increased traffic and falls into a state of disrepair.

Ongata Rongai is an interesting place, politically. It falls entirely within Kajiado County although most of its working class residents work and do business in Nairobi. So while they contribute a lot to the economic development of Nairobi, they cannot, as residents of Kajiado County, claim any service from the Nairobi county government.

The population dynamics and the voting patterns also make it unpredictable, politically. During the last elections, for instance, Kajiado County voted for a CORD governor but went for a Jubilee senator.

Apart from the indigenous Maasai, who have generally receded to other parts of Kajiado due to urbanisation, Ongata Rongai is populated by just about every community in Kenya with the Kikuyu, Kisii, Luo and Luhyas accounting for a greater proportion of the population.

Kenyans find affordable plots in Rongai at a cost that can only be a dream in Nairobi, build homes and move in hoping to enjoy a serene life. Sadly, as the population has grown in double digits, the infrastructure has worsened.

Despite all, Ongata Rongai remains a great place to live with exciting economic and tourism potential. Its appeal, as a getaway from Nairobi, that attracted so many people in the first place, could however be lost due to lack of political will.

Both the national and county governments must deliver the promises they made, not just because of Rongai’s vote potential, but because its residents are taxpayers and citizens who deserve a dignified life.

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