Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Road reserves & our town planners...

After reading the special report on Mombasa in Sunday's Nation, especially our Municipal Engineer's comments about there not being enough space to expand on the road network, I have the following comments...

1. While it's true that Mombasa proper is only an Island and therefore has limited space to build more roads, does our Municipal Engineer know that many of the road reserves have been grabbed by private developers thanks to the Municipal Town Planners?

2. The Council, itself has 'allocated' this land to others and is now very averse to admitting this or even rectifying the situation. Hence, as our Engineer mentioned, we do not have enough space to expand our roads within town which is partly true but at the same time, is not the case with ALL roads. Why?

3. If the Council is using the above as excuses for not adding to the road network and thereby easing the burgeoning traffic conditions, could they, at least, maintain the current roads in an efficient manner? Because, as matters stand now, the traffic situation is being made worse by not just the Matatus, tuk tuks, mkokotenis, learner drivers, suicidal pedestrians who cross without looking, motorists driving while talking on mobile phones, etc., but, by all the above trying to avoid potholed and bumpy (endless bumps put up everywhere indiscriminately further hindering a smooth flow of traffic), roads and the pedestrians walking on the road itself even when a foot-path is available.

4. Also, the Council, in a misguided attempt to 'widen' road space, have abundantly become very 'generous' with the yellow paint making previous parking spaces illegal. In the process, some drivers, including and especially (and they have always been this way), the matatus and tuk tuks, have taken to stopping in the middle of a lane to either pick up passengers or drop them off. And where are handicapped drivers/passengers going to park? This whole exercise results in a hold up of traffic. Our traffic cops stand around with their walkie talkies in hand at every junction looking like they are waiting to be beamed up to a waiting space ship, like in Star Trek!

5. There was a time, till the early 1980's, when heavy traffic was NOT allowed within town centre, at all. But, now they go on the narrowest of old town lanes some of which are too narrow for them. This results in further clogging of traffic, of course and there's nobody in officialdom to correct this anomaly. Why is heavy traffic allowed within town? Take the example of where I live. This same Council has 'allocated' a road reserve which has partly been used to build a block of flats and the remaining is being used as a truck, tractor, junk yard and garage. These monstrosities drive through our estate making a nonsense of the roads within the estate and the surrounding ones, too. Why is this still being allowed and the Council not doing a thing about it other than writing a cosmetic letter to the owner of this plot to vacate, a few years ago? Why hasn't the Council after writing this letter, followed up the owner about it?

Therefore, what the Council told those reporters in the Sunday Nation write up have no proper leg to stand on. Our Council leaves a lot to be desired where 'service' issues are concerned. So, what is the reason for their existence if they cannot deliver?

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