Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaThe city I long for
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content
The city I long for Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Julie, Kenya Jul 15, 2008
Environment , Health , Technology   Opinions
 1 2 3   Next page »


Nairobi, the city under the sun- one would call it a home away from home, with all the beautiful scenery at the national park, sky scrappers in the central business district, the beautiful roundabouts, the diversity of cultures and many other fascinating sights for the visitors’ eyes. It can also be called the home of hospitality- one can not get stranded in such a city, all you have to do in case you lose your bearings is to look for a face that looks friendly, of which you will always find and ask for directions- some people are always heart-warming with their welcoming attitude and willingness to help.

Who said that a breath-taking place does not have shortcomings? Well, Nairobi just like any other big city is not exempted from its fair share of flaws. From pollution, to pickpockets, to overpopulation- you name it. Kenya actually offers one of the largest markets for imported vehicles in Africa. This provides a paradox because you would expect it to be up-to-date with the road network. Sadly, the vehicles seem to outnumber the people- One would be stuck in the traffic jam for hours on end. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get to where they are going, but the jam keeps slowing them down. Kenya’s population is on the rapid growth, with the cosmopolitan Nairobi having approximately 3 million people. -The irony is that our infrastructure has failed to keep the pace with our growth, resulting in one of the worst traffic jams in the continent.

With jams there are the traffic rules which seem to be a waste of time for some ruthless motorists. One morning I witnessed an ugly scene on my way to school- a man was knocked by a public service vehicle also known as a Matatu and to add salt to injury, it was at a zebra crossing. I am sure that the person who invented the black and white lines did not intend them to be mere decorations. Then there’s this issue of un-roadworthy vehicles that emit exhaust fumes which add to the air pollution.

Speaking of pollution, there are days when I walk on the streets carrying a ticket from my bus ride, or a wrapper from a finished piece of candy on my hand- it would be much easier to just drop it down and comfortably walk away- but my conscience does not allow me to do it. Unfortunately, not everyone is like minded, so you’ll find litter everywhere. During the strolls, I still see papers everywhere. It is a good thing that the Nairobi City council endorsed tough rules against throwing of things haphazardly in the city centre. Ever since, the Nairobi Central Business District has been in prim shape, but I am almost sure that without such stringent regulations- we would surely bounce back to our old ways.

My worry ceases to be with the city centre; instead it is with the estates that lack dustbins on the streets and have no one to keep watch of the occupants’ conduct. Worse still, with the informal settlements, where any open ground seems to have a silent name on it, “dumpsite”.

This prompts me on the largest problem that is now faced by the capital. The gap between the rich and poor is daily on the increase, more and more people still migrate from the rural areas to come to the capital in search of jobs which always are nowhere to be found. The cost of living on the other hand is ascending daily, leading to the development of urban slums due to expensive proper housing. The vast majority, actually two thirds of Nairobi’s population lives in these slums, with horrid living conditions.

Of course one can not deny the fact that many plans to upgrade the slum areas have been put in place, but have instead been met with contempt from the dwellers. This is because they predict that once the housing has been upgraded, they will not afford the rents. Behind nearly every posh estate you will most probably find the slums. The problems in these settlements are numerous; they lack proper sanitation, poor road system, indecent housing, overpopulation, lack of healthcare facilities and insecurity among others.

The Government on the other hand does not recognize them in the allocation of social amenities. Officials say that the settlements have to be organised; by upgrading them first before they can be considered in allocation of basic facilities; like schools and health centres. I have worked in the slum community and had a first-hand experience on these challenges. One of the most recent and vivid ordeals is with City Carton slum area in the Eastland’s part of Nairobi. There was an upgrading program that was targeting land allocation to squatters in 2007- this is an activity that made City Cotton among the news items, with residents complaining about the mode of allocation.

The thing that annoyed me with the allocation; was that the residents insisted to be allocated every piece of available land, overlooking the fact that they only have one public toilet serving an entire population of over five thousand people. They were to build their own houses with individual toilets- which up to now, some have not gotten the money to set up even a basic structure. They end up selling their plots of land due to the frustration; they also continue with their use of the infamous “flying toilets”.

 1 2 3   Next page »   


You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile

A 25 year old lady who's a Journalism student at Daystar University. I am also a HIV/AIDS peer educator in Kenya. I am a strong believer of evidence based information to young people, in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS. "We can not fight an enemy if we lack all the skills to win."
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.