Nairobi city, our home and capital, looks like a manyatta. There is dung in the alleys, and it’s not cow dung, and there are filthy, half-naked children hanging around, with plastic bottles stuck up their noses.
And you can tie your cow wherever you like. Everybody does what comes to mind.
It looks like a city managed by Mike Sonko or one of those D-grade numbskulls and not an A-lister like Mr Evans Kidero.
When he was our boss, Mr Kidero impressed us because he was numerate — journalists can’t count — and his head was full of statistics.
Like a child who does not live up to the promise, Mr Kidero has raised our taxes but, alas, is no better than the fools he replaced.
Now, let us judge Mr Kidero the way he judged his employees: by outcomes.
We expected him to put in place an enlightened framework and begin the building of a clean city, with wide tree-lined boulevards, which would be safe and healthy for us to work and play in.
On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the poorest and 5 the best performance, Mr Kidero is a straightforward 1.
First, on his watch, the streets of this city have been turned into parking lots.
Moi Avenue, which should be smack in the middle of the city, a pedestrian zone of shops and outdoor cafes, is a parking for Mwiki matatus that have long, baboon-lip noses, scratched and battered from causing accidents.
The street is full of hard-faced men from a certain sect, who appear on the lookout for someone to circumcise. That’s Moi Avenue. If you go to Tom Mboya, it is hell.
And where is the mass transit system? How do you hope to move three or four million people in vans and on motorcycles?
CITY TRAFFIC CHAOS
Where are the fancy buses? And the trams? The solution to the city’s traffic chaos is not the construction of more roads, or painting boxes on roads, it is the reduction of the growth of motor vehicles.
That is achieved by punishing those who don’t share their vehicles, getting rid of smaller public service vehicles and creating a safe and convenient alternative to cars — be it trains, bicycles or even walking.
Mr Kidero was once photographed in a train in Germany. The photos looked lovely but the trains remained in Germany.
I think there are a couple of longish buses but you need to stand on the roadside for two weeks to see one.
One would have thought that a well-travelled governor would have developed parking for those filthy carbon-spewing contraptions outside the central business district and built walkways and bikeways so that people can park and walk or ride.
NO SENSE OF WELLNESS
The city has no sense of wellness, that’s why we allow these smoky junks on the road.
Does Nairobi have emission standards? Or will it develop one when we become like New Delhi and Beijing?
Former Cabinet minister John Michuki and former Town Clerk John Gakuo showed that it can be done.
They led the cleaning of Nairobi River, cleared a mountain of plastic near Globe Cinema Roundabout and did a beautiful park complete with benches and clean air.
Today, Nairobi River is so filthy it looks radioactive. And the Michuki Park has been turned into a market, possibly on the way to being grabbed and turned into bazaars and exhibitions.
Beware of the person who has no feelings for children and animals, they have a hole where their hearts ought to be.
There are so many children in the streets. What happened to the city’s rehabilitation project? How much money would it take to get these children out of the streets and put them in care? Couldn’t we even raise enough through such initiatives as the Mayor’s Christmas Tree?
NO ONE GIVES A DAMN
The reason these children are in the street is because no one in the city administration gives a damn.
The older street boys are almost invariably criminals, stabbing, smearing, snatching and otherwise attacking and brutalising city residents.
They are moral vacuums, these folks, having grown up in the streets where the sense of right and wrong is not exactly inculcated.
They make the city not just untidy but also a very dangerous place.
Finally, are the motorcycles. I hate the motorcycle taxis. If you don’t have bus fare, don’t come to town, stay at home. If you don’t have anything to do, don’t come to Nairobi, a city where there are no jobs. Stay in the village and work in the garden.
You will have a much better and more dignified life than living in a tin shack and letting your dung fly once in a while.
Today, we live in constant danger of being killed by a motorcycle taxi.
They are driven fast, in total defiance of traffic rules, by simple country men from Mukuru kwa Njenga in second-hand bomber jackets.
They operate as gangs and call each other every time they do something bad.