Coastweek -- We
have had the Sustainable Blue Economy conference in Kenya for
the better part of this working week,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
Hosted by Kenya,
Canada and Japan, the conference will be attended by over twelve
thousand people from one hundred and eighty countries out of the
over two hundred nations in the world.
The actual number of
nation states in the world is a debatable number and I invite
experts to tell me exactly how many there are.
Having checked with
a few people it depends on whether you are the United Nations,
FIFA, the International Olympics Committee or otherwise.
Each comes up with a
different number so there must be a case for standardising what
a country means so that we can have a definitive number.
Over to the
International Standards Organisation to cobble up a number. I
discussed at the conference and resolutions will be the subject
of a discussion on this column in a few weeks but the focus this
week is the impact that this conference has had on mobility
within our capital city.
I will start with
the experience of a friend of mine who I was supposed to meet in
an early morning engagement in Westlands.
As the meeting was
scheduled for seven o’ clock in the morning, she decided she
would check Google maps to work out the best route to get to
She was coming from
Being early in the
morning and relying on historical data, the indication was to go
straight through the centre of town which was the shortest route
by distance and also by time …… according to Google.
was to take the Southern bypass towards Kikuyu and then come in
to Westlands on the Nakuru road.
She left home and on
getting towards the Junction Mall, the traffic screeched to a
She then took out
her phone to check which route she should go through.
She was offered
options that looked to be relatively free on Google but when she
got there she found traffic backed up as well.
She ended up making
it to the meeting three hours after the scheduled time.
Someone else who was
due at the meeting and came from roughly the same direction used
common logic and decided to use the Southern bypass.
He made in forty
This is indicative
of what happens whenever we have a major event in town.
These delays in
getting around town do not only affect locals but also the
delegates who come to attend the conference.
of the “attractiveness” of the location Kenya, people will come
for conferences despite the inconveniences of getting around
If we are to make
Kenya the “go to” MICE destination then we will have to
seriously improve the mobility that we offer delegates.
The traffic that we
have in the Central Business Districts of the various conference
towns is getting unwieldy.
If we are to
continue hosting the large conferences – SKAL in Mombasa, Blue
Economy and others in Nairobi – then we really have to plan our
city transport better.
We have had great
ideas like creating a Metropolitan Authority whose key purpose
was to drive development and management of the two large cities
so that they are moving towards creating a great living
experience in their centres and suburbs.
The key development
was the transport infrastructure as well as the living
For Nairobi we have
had the great noise about the BRT or Bus Rapid Transport System
which was announced with the rapid painting of red lines on the
Since the painting
of the lines early this year nothing has happened.
But even this will
not really sort out the mess that we have in the city centre
when large numbers of people come in and they have to be
transported in normal vehicles or in small buses.
The congestion that
was experienced in the course of this week will continue to
happen till we have Mass Rapid Transit systems (bus, trams, or
underground) that can move people in large quantities within and
in and out of the city centres.
MICE will not
continue to be attracted to Kenya once the novelty value wears
off and we have to compete with better organised cities – like
Kigali which is already making a dent in the attractiveness of
Nairobi as a MICE location.
As Kachumbari says,
if we are to Make It Kenya we have to make Kenya first!
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