This is a guest post by my good friend Felix.Felix is a good friend and part of the @chessunday Network.
He brought us the previous post NAIROBI’S OWN UNIVERSITY DISTRICT . I am grateful for his contributions. The previous post was on the emerging trend of Universities seeking to have their campuses at the Central Business District.
Today he submits a fresh post on the seat of power. I trust you shall enjoy the read…
THE SEAT OF POWER
In a republic like Kenya, there is no doubt we only have one significant “Seat of Power”. What has caught our eye is the recent plans, good or bad, to shift the location of that seat. By location we mean where the physical home of the Office of the President.
Plans are at an advanced stage to move the office of the president from Harambee house along Harambee Avenue, in the city centre; to Upperhill.The said new office of the president will have 60 floors, effectively making it the tallest building in Africa. The building will be located between where we have the traffic head quarters and Caparo House.
From afar, this idea looks captivating and welcome; especially the thought of having a 60 storey tower in Kenya’s capital. However, in my opinion, this move is not entirely well advised when many things are put into consideration.
Just recently, the Nairobi city council imposed new parking charges in the city that proved unpopular, to the extent that they were challenged in the court of law. According to the Minister of Local Authorities and the Town Clerk, the move was intended to de-congest the city from traffic snarl ups. It defeats logic therefore if we put this in perspective and revisit the relocation of the seat of power from the City Centre to Upper Hill, which is just a few meters away from the city centre.
The proposed relocation of the office of the president to Upper hill is bound to create congestion in an area that has been hitherto not crowded. The traffic jam will be inevitable considering that the sixty storey building will also be home to several ministries or government agencies.
It goes without saying that this move will make sure that Upper hill loses the serene allure that it has been associated with.
Most of the organizations in Upper Hill were originally located in the City Centre and moved to Upper Hill so as to run away from the noise and congestion. Take for instance Old Mutual, Teacher’s Service Commission and PriceWaterhouse instance that were located in the city centre but relocated to Upper hill.
As it is now Upper Hill seems to have reached the peak of its carrying capacity. This is when one bears in mind the road sizes and if the cool environment is to be maintained. Currently, the roads in upper hill are being expanded in an exercise that has proved to be difficult due to the unavailability of adequate space. This is mainly attributed to the fact that Upperhill was initially a low density residential zone that was recently converted into a commercial zone. As such the roads and other service lines that are present are insufficient for the burgeoning commercial use.
“Traffic jams impact the overall productivity of our society and are a real threat to our development”- Unknown
History has shown that when an area is stressed with over-development and the space for development is limited, development is choked and negative returns begin to set in.
There is a restriction on the height of buildings in Upper Hill.”Upper Hill”, as the name suggests, is one of Nairobi’s highest peaks, and it being near the flight path of Wilson Airport, the restriction comes in handy.
WHERE SHOULD THE SEAT OF POWER BE?
In the United States, as is with most developed nations, the residence of the President, state house, in the case of Kenya, also doubles up as the office of the president.
If the government adopted this approach, the activities of the office of the president will be centralized for effective administration. Further, city residents will not be subjected to frequent traffic snarl ups that are occasioned when the president is shuttling between Harambee House and State House.
Another approach would be to locate the office of the president far away from the city centre in a bid to activate development in other areas as is the spirit of decentralization.
Possibly Moyale would do?
-Felix Maloba || @mafex_inc