A Little of western In Nairobi’s UN-Avenue.

01 Aug

The last few weeks have been dramatic and quite entertaining; A silent war has been going on behind closed doors as husbands tried to hold back 10% of their earning claiming the wifes were taking the portion to the wrong Pastors. I was on the opinion that I be allowed to spend the money on Saturday evening watching Olympic Games with friends until The Fake Miracle Saga is resolved. Well; as you must have guessed by now, I lost the motion: She reminded me about that guy and his wife who sold a portion of their land and held back some of the proceeds.  I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me, so I gave up and even thought twice about disclosing the whole income.

While the pastor was rehearsing the script for the fake miracle and auditioning for actors, another real miracle was taking place. It was not coming from the skies like the New Jerusalem, nor was it as a result of days of fasting and planting seeds through M-pesa. It had been brought about by pain and loss of live.

Painful that a young school girl lost her live in an accident as she went to school in the morning. Many motorists probably witnessed the incident on UN Avenue; and like the Good Samaritan in the good book someone did not just pass-by. UNEP whose association with the road hence has earned it the name UN-Avenue; sort to know how they could help in such a situation:

They were convinced that the young life was lost Because of lack of safe facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, it was not the first time it had happened; two fatal accidents, both involving children on foot or bike and a motor vehicle, just in the span of a few months.

To improve the situation, UNEP reached out to KURA [Kenya Urban Roads Authority} and the first meeting was held in November 2009. They discussed ideas for reducing congestion and improving road safety. It was agreed to use UN Avenue as an example and provide the neccesally facilities to reduce Non-Motorised transport and Motorists conflicts. –It may sound like one of the not yet seen vision 2030 projects but you will not believe how soon the miracle has come to pass.

I recently went to the UN Complex to get a feel of how it feels to be charged with thinking on behalf of everybody else and coming up with solutions fit for all humanity and their problems. I had been invited to get the answer to my question in my last post where I had sought to know who was minding the fate of the other road users.

I knew where the complex is located because I have been to American Embassy a couple of times taking people who were promising me heaven when they go to the land of milk and honey only to take them back home crying on my shoulder. I was accompanied by one of the victims of the early morning Visa parade; she knew the road well; but it brought her bad memories.  This time I was not expecting a broken-hearted relative wetting my shirt.

. She was the first to notice something different about the road.- “Hawa wazungu wameleta America Kenya. “ {This westerners have brought America to Kenya} I didn’t quite understand what she meant with America presence in Kenya.

Wapi America?? I asked. That is when she pointed and I noticed the new look UN-Avenue.; What we were looking at was truly a western version. Side walks-people walking up and down without a care what is passing on the roads. A two lane bicycle tracks, it was somehow funny watching cyclists keeping left; in their own road.

Is this road fit for matatus? I was tempted to ask- but on this road???

I didn’t think so. But It Didn’t take long to see them; it was like they were not even there. I was expecting the usual – passengers waiting for a matatu under the No picking of passengers sign

.But it was different here; The matatu stage was moved to a more suitable location  and a feeder road constructed for vehicles going straight ahead and those going to UN Complex and the American Embassy.

When we left the complex, i was looking forward to have a better look at how collaboration between Our very own Kenya Urban Roads Authority{KURA} and UNEP has transformed a road to an Avenue. You should see it to believe. You don’t even have to bring your car; take a matatu, and walk the whole stretch; there is just enough for everybody,hata boda-boda.

The road will be unveiled sometimes this year and Kenyans will for the first time see how roads will look like in the future. I’m fortunate to know the chairman of Matatu welfare Association Mr Dickson Mbugua and  since we share more than a common goal of making matatu industry better than we found it; I will see to it that he negotiates an invitation for our Sacco bosses during the launch.

It is important for investors to also see and imagine how it would feel to operate on such roads.

see more on how UNEP is Engaged in solving other transport problems across the country .


Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Its life, Matatu matters


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7 responses to “A Little of western In Nairobi’s UN-Avenue.


    August 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Keep it up, your writing is awesome and the thrill is endless. I must admit this story is a touching one and one that got so close to me. I was 8 when I lost a friend same age and living on the same premises one a hit and run, although the matatu driver was arrested, a life was already lost.

    • wambururu

      August 3, 2012 at 6:37 am

      A court of law can only determine the fate of the accused; but the memory of a loved one remains with us for many years. It is even more painful for the driver as they have to live with the guilt. We could be saving both victims the loss and the pain.Let the road builders distance themselves from the blame.
      Sorry about your friend. You can imagine what that driver has had to live with.

  2. wakaranja

    August 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Good one sir. the writing is improving too. Brathe, I am with you on this journey. Kudos!!

  3. Poline Bizzy

    August 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    it is a high time that the roads become user friendly for all and hoping by the time the roads are renewed they will not be violated by lawlessness. These roads have claimed enough innocent lives that could have been avoided in the first place. keep this good work going and God bless

    • wambururu

      August 3, 2012 at 6:25 am

      It is also a high time that the Government ensure that only qualified drivers are allowed on the roads. This has also been a problem to all road users.
      Thanks, God bless you too.

  4. Mugure

    August 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I recently visited home from the US and was very excited to see how our roads have improved. However, I was shocked to see Mkokotenis on the highways!!!! This is not only dangerous but deadly!!!! The Mkokotenis should not be allowed AT ALL on the highways. I feel for these people as they have to earn a living, but honestly there can be other ways of delivering goods than these manual carriers! Can someone build affordable tuk tuks with bigger carriages that can be affordable for mkokoteni carriersdfs?

    I also noted matatus were still picking up people on these highways despite the fact that they already have designated places they can use to pick up people. We all have a problem… not only the matatu driversbut also the passengers too! The passengers will not use the fly-overs provided for them but were crossing through the highways like crazy!!! Totally unbelievable how Kenyan gamble with their lives! I actually saw a couple romancing on the median of the highway!!! They were eating potatoe chips watching cars pass by!!!!

    Road safety/manners/courtesy needs to be taught in driving schools!!! Maybe that might make a difference!!! We all need to realize change starts with ‘ME’ and once everyone takes responsibility, our roads will be safer for us and our children!

  5. Florah Svensson

    August 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I just love your witty way of writing and hope everyone will get some positive ways to improve road safety in Kenya. I live in Egypt where almost no driver follows traffic rules exactly like the Matatus in Kenya, I see road accidents in Cairo almost every day. Fortunately almost everyone still follow the rules in Kenya except in the late hours when one doesn’t stop for the red light in fear of getting robbed, driving with no lights at night and the Matatu drivers breaking all the rules in order to get the passengers to their destination on time etc. Who to blame? Security need improvement and passengers need to be patient. More pedestrian crossing are also needed not forgetting crash coursers on how to drive on those new dual carriage ways like the new Thika Road. On my last visit I noticed cars going on wrong directions not to mentioned Matatus picking up passengers on the highway. This is how it is in Egypt and I can tell you it is is a mess and dangerous. please lets follow traffic rules in order not to go down the Egyptian road.
    Keep up the good work! I thank Aljazeera for noticing you.


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