Monday, July 4, 2011

Living conditions of Kenyans

A couple of weekends ago, Mwenda Njoka wrote a comment in the Weekend Star which really hit the nail on the proverbial head regarding residential areas and their deliberate and insensitive downgrading by our various Local Authorities all over the country, though his comments were only dealing with Nairobi and environs.

Unfortunately, this 'disease' of converting residential areas into commercial ones is an on going exercise by ALL local authorities countrywide. This results in the following...

1.    There are no quiet and peaceful areas anymore anywhere. Since commercializing an area means that everything and anything can and is allowed to sprout in the name of commerce in the middle of residential areas.

2.    This means that the infrastructure leading to residential areas, like roads, which were never meant for heavy commercial traffic, suffer the results of this. We get awful pot-holes which the road maintenance 'authorities' are very averse to fixing as soon as they are messed up.

3.    There is no regulation on the noise levels created by all of the above since everybody uses these so-called residential areas for everything under the sun. For example, tuk tuks and matatus and even some private cars, play loud and earsplitting levels of music at all hours of the day and night. Heavy commercial vehicles encroach and rev with resultant exhaust fumes pervading our houses nearly all the time.

4.    The mushrooming of sky scrapper buildings without any specific planning everywhere means that huge trucks carrying building materials are continuously plying our 'delicate' side roads degrading them. This also means, due to no planning, that these buildings block the light and air, etc., of others next to them. One would think that our town planners would make sure that things are planned in such a way in this day of environmental awareness that people can use the maximum of natural light and if structures are prefabricated, these heavy commercial vehicles supplying building materials would be to a minimum. Not to mention that houses, etc., would be more cost effective for the builder and the buyer, as well as environment friendly. But, do our policy makers even give a moments thought to such issues?

5.    We need lots of green open spaces for various reasons among which are places for children to play. Most of our residential areas and estates have none. Why?

6.    Instead, we have livestock sprinkled all over town and residential areas causing terrible traffic jams and questionable health issues.

7.    There is no enforcement of the amount of noise that can be allowed at anytime anywhere, including residential areas. Therefore, when the average Kenyan goes home expecting peace and quiet and to be able to relax, there is no such thing, as s/he is inundated by noise, air-pollution, etc. Even the children who need this peace and quiet more than anybody else to study, find none. And those are our future. Despite there being laws regarding noise and air pollution, NEMA rarely enforces this, even after such things are reported to them. Why?

8.    Since roads are not maintained and upgraded, all road users; yes, even pedestrians (who are in the majority), suffer the consequences, especially during the rainy season. When, we suffer some injury or damage to our person and vehicles, our road maintenance 'authorities' are never taken to task by being sued for damages. In this day of unbelievable expenses and despite paying road and fuel levy, very few roads are fixed or maintained. If anybody wants examples, please, contact me and I will show them 'live' examples. As I've mentioned countless times previously, Coast Province has a 'shortage' of any new roads built since independence and even the ones that are still there are not maintained in a timely manner. Only up-country roads are made and maintained. Why? We urgently need new roads down here, too, since Mombasa has been given a 'city' status ages ago, but, it is only in name. We also pay taxes, remember, by the millions every single day via road and fuel levy. Use it to give us better roads, please.

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