Thoughts: What the hell is Vision 2030 for, anyways?
I think most Kenyans should be used to walking, by now. Honestly, even before this whole drama with matatu strikes started, spending two hours walking around Nairobi was quite ordinary to me. If you’re a person that doesn’t have too many manenos, it’s all about getting to work/school and back home right? And yes I’m sure its comfy moving around in a car but when you get stuck in traffic, I’ll be the 6’ 2’’ blur strolling past you while you’re left staring at the distant blur of my blue backpack and my chiselled mountain-goat calves.
But today I assumed that, because of the strike, traffic would be less on our roads so I insisted on running my afternoon errands with ma duke’s whip. Low and behold, I find myself back to drumming my fingers on the steering wheel sandwiched between two ugly ass Toyotas.
Point of this post, you ask? Well, I have come up with a long-term solution to Nairobi’s congestion problem as well as the growing security, planning and governance problems all rolled into one. A panacea, if you will.
The solution? Move the administrative capital out of Nairobi. In essence what this would mean is elevating one of our existing towns to a city that will serve as our new administrative capital city like Pretoria and Abuja are for South Africa and Nigeria respectively.
No amount of urban development will change the fact that there is no space left in Nairobi. So, every time I see a new building or block of flats coming up in my area, I immediately add an extra half an hour to the duration of my daily commute. Meanwhile, our government seems to think that building more roads will solve the growing congestion problem.
I’m no expert but I’m sure we can all agree that the city of Nairobi, with 5 million Kenyans and counting, wont be able to adequately accommodate the increasing numbers of rural and urban dwellers as well as support all the government business taking place within the hustle and bustle of commercial activity.
Something simply has got to give.
I’m suggesting that if there’s anything that needs to be removed from Nairobi city, it’s everything related to government business. By government business, I am referring to all institutions or symbols of the three arms of our government namely: the headquarters for the High Court of Kenya, Parliament buildings and State House. Therefore it is clear that the town selected to become the administrative capital must be elevated to a city and allocated sufficient resources so that it can develop fully to enable it to effectively fulfill its new role.
Mark my font, if we don’t start seriously planning now on how to decentralize (note the HUGE difference between ‘decentralise’ and ‘decongest’) Nairobi, all the horror stories you’ve heard about Lagos will be nothing compared to what we’ll have to contend with twenty years down the line.
Practically, having our own city akin to Pretoria or Abuja will make Kenya more orderly, more organized, less crowded and much safer not to mention the tremendous positive impact it would have on how government business is conducted both with local officials as well as the international community such as diplomatic missions and other foreign representatives.
Now, THAT is what I would call a worthwhile Vision 2030 challenge.
Of course, the big question is how does one go about determining which of our towns should be turned into Kenya’s administrative capital? I would immediately contend that this title should not be conferred on the two other existing cities in our Republic, namely: Mombasa and Kisumu. In all fairness, both these towns were elevated to the status of “city” for reasons I can only describe as political expediency. It would be naïve to think that the selection of one town over another, in one province over another, would not automatically elicit strong ethnic/tribal sentiments. So, I suggest we use a bidding system akin to that used by the IOC or FIFA to decide on which of the eligible bidding cities worldwide should be allowed to host the Olympics and the World Cup respectively. Obviously in our case, this process would involve each town and district putting forth a bid and presenting its case to Kenya as why it should be made the administrative capital. After these presentations, the decision on the winning bid should be put to a country-wide vote. Yes, a popular vote. I know what you’re thinking… yeah….by all means Kenyans, rig for your favourite town! Whatever it takes- as long as we find a lasting solution to all this congestion.
Just a thought I had while sitting in ridiculously heavy traffic on matatu strike day.
Now playing: Jay Electronica – ‘Exhibit C’