Did Uhuru Kenyatta Make The Right Decision?

Posted on March 28, 2008. Filed under: Butdoisay TRUE STORIES |

Story by OLIVER MATHENGE
Publication Date: 3/28/2008
It has relatively been a quiet estate until a recent directive requiring public vehicles from the Eastland areas of Nairobi to use a nearby terminus was made. Muthurwa estate, which barely made news a few weeks ago, is now a common subject after the Government turned it into an entry into the new matatu terminus.

Commuters walk from Muthurwa bus terminus (inset) to the city centre. Muthurwa residents are up in arms over the disturbance they have to endure from the bus stage and the hawkers. Photo/CHRIS OJOW

When reports of a market and matatu terminus were coming to their area, Muthurwa residents must have rejoiced over new opportunities arising from the proximity of the two. But the multi-million project has turned into a nightmare for the residents whose hours of sleep have been reduced by the heavy traffic presence at night. Loud noises from the vehicles and clouds of dust have become the order of the day at one of Nairobi’s oldest estates.

Had become irritated

The residents had become irritated to the extent that they blocked matatus from the accessing terminus a day after the entrance was created, citing excessive disturbance. They erected barricades at the entrance using huge stones.

The early morning incident hampered the flow of traffic into the Muthurwa terminus, forcing hundreds of city residents to walk to the central business district from as far as the City Stadium.

“This is now becoming a nuisance, we can no longer sleep before 11am and we are woken up as early as 5am. Our children cannot even do their homework due to the loud music from some of the vehicles,” a bitter Ms Mary Akinyi said.

And this is not her only concern. She says that the estate has so many young children, who are vulnerable to diseases caused by the huge smokes of dust that have become a norm in the estate. She adds that the children cannot freely play around the estate’s compounds due to the likelihood of being hit by the matatus.

“The movement of the matatus through the estate raises a lot of dust, which is getting into our houses, which is a major danger for our health. They also make our houses shake, making it very uncomfortable,” says Ms Akinyi, a mother of three, one of whom is two years old.

The residents’ sorrow

Another resident Michael Muogo adds; “Hapa ilikuwa kama mbinguni bila vitu mingi. Hizi barabara zilikuwa kama viwanja za michezo kwa hawa watoto kwa sababu hata magari madogo hazikuwa zinazitumia. (This estate was a near heaven with little activity. Roads inside the estate were being used as playgrounds by our children as even private cars rarely made their way through them).”

Spending a few hours in the morning and in the evening at the estate, one cannot but share in the residents’ sorrow.  The estate has now been turned into a typical Nairobi road, jam-packed with vehicles trying to access the terminus, some with the habit of overlapping even on this particular road.

The loud music, honking and rough engines from the PSV makes one wonder whether the Government had considered the area was inhabited by people.

The road to the terminus is so close to the residential houses that even those with television sets have to keep them loud enough due to the noise coming from outside. If it were not for the ongoing rains, large fumes of dust get into the houses, choking residents, while exposing them to diseases.
The new entrance has also caught the eye of local architects who are questioning whether feasibility studies on the effects of the new feeder road on the lives of the Muthurwa residents and the environment.

The Architectural Association of Kenya chairman, Mr Gideon Mulyungi, says that the negative social-cultural and environmental impacts are too heavy on the residents of Muthurwa.

Other than the traffic, Muthurwa residents are also concerned about the manner in which people are crisscrossing through the estate. Thousands of commuters are using the estate as a way of getting to town, especially when the matatus decide to drop them near the City Stadium round about.

“You can imagine how unsafe Nairobi can turn out to be. The petty thieves, who are stealing from commuters at the terminus, will soon want more and will start coming to our houses, or they may just pick clothes from the lines or shoes outside the house,” says a resident, Mr  Joseph Omondi.

On Tuesday last week, the Government established the entry point to the terminus on Landhies Road, leaving the initial entry lane near the City Stadium roundabout to serve as an exit.

The new arrangement came as the target of the project, which was the reduction in traffic congestion on Jogoo Road, failed to be met after the Government, the week earlier, barred matatus from driving into the city centre.

 
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