They were meant to be a solution to the risk associated with crossing of the busy streets of Nairobi and also reduce the number of road accidents involving pedestrians, but the opposite is the case.
In Nairobi, most pedestrians would take their chances crossing four-lane highways rather than use footbridges. And the reason is simple. With street children having converted most of them into their permanent residence, using footbridges is considered a big security risk by most pedestrians.
As a matter of fact, most of the footbridges in the city center have been completely taken over by these street children.
The two Muthurwa market footbridges that connect the Haile Selassie Avenue and the Country Bus terminus have become a no go zone.
“Crossing the road is better than trying to use the footbridge. They have been infested by chokoras who will accost you along the way demanding for handouts. If you don’t oblige, some of them become violent,” says Jane Akinyi as she balances her luggage on her head while holding the hand of her five-year-old son as she prepares to cross the busy Landhies Road.
It gets worse at night, she says. With no security lights at the footbridge, the street children have a field day harassing pedestrians in the cover of darkness.
Some even become waiting points for thugs who relieve unsuspecting members of the public of cash and other valuables.
Recently, a Nairobi News photographer had to solicit the protection of casual laborers at the Country Bus terminus to access the footbridge for fear of being mugged.
“In my view I think it would help to have some kind of lighting at the footbridges. I understand some have but most don’t. Some have also become dilapidated. It seems whoever put them up have completely forgotten about them,” said Charles Kiarie a casual laborer at the Country Bus terminus.
The Kenyan Urban Roads Cooperate Communication officer, John Cheboi explains that the footbridges have been divided and mandated to different institutions. He says the Muthurwa footbridges are under the County Government.
However, according to Mr Cheboi, plans are underway to revamp some of the bridges that have deteriorated.
“We are in plans together with the Architectural Association of Kenya to build new state-of-the-art footbridges. The area at Kenyatta Market will be the first to benefit. We also plan to facelift others,” he said.