Friday, March 14, 2008

Muthurwa Market and Bus Park

I think the Muthurwa Market idea is noble and good. Our planners are at least trying to solve the issues that plague us. Hawkers are a nuisance especially for pedestrians in town. Two weeks ago on a Saturday, I dumped my car opposite city hall and walked all the way down to OTC. It didn't take me long to realise that it was faster to walk on the road watching out for speeding matatu's coming from behind than on the curb which had been taken over by hawkers.

Though the hawkers offer cheap products for the masses, they are really a nuisance. The market came at the nick of time to save and sort out the situation. After a few hiccups while distributing the stalls (a 1m x 1m space marked on the floor of a mabati sheet covered space) the rent was reduced from Ksh.100 ($1.53) per day to Ksh.50 ($0.76) per day. To add value to the location (bring people to the hawkers rather than have the hawkers follow the people), the minister for Local Government Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that all matatu's plying the Eastlands route (Jogoo road) terminate their services at the market.

My take on this is:

- The market will pay itself back in 5 years at the current rate.
- Nairobi CBD will mostly be free of hawkers!
- The CBD will also have less matatu's

The planning was half done! The matatu directive has actually led to congestion. The matatu's are rightly terminating their services at City Stadium. The problem here is that Jogoo Road is a 3 lane highway and the entry to the "bus park" (this is an entry to the railway residence on a road located off the city stadium roundabout) is two lane opposing traffic road with no real turning area at the end. Considering the way matatu's are impatient, they will always overtake and end up blocking each other for hours in the terminus. This is exactly what is what is currently happening! Think of 3000 matatu's, hawkers and commuters at rush hour on a 500m stretch of road! Please do not move any more matatu's to the terminus!

The market was grossly over priced! The Ksh.700m ($10.7m) - mostly taken to be Ksh. 1billion / $14.3m - price tag is about the same as what it cost to put up the Rahimtulla Trust Tower on Upperhill. The market is just a concrete floor with metal shed covering the area. Even if inflation is factored in and the current price of steel which has gone through the roof there is no justification for the figure.

There are two factors that could have led to the enormous figure:
  • Consider the scandal that hit Uhuru Kenyatta personal assistant regarding the nomination of councillors, it would not surprise me if the City Council principals involved in the construction and planning of the structure took home a huge cut.
  • The current procurement act as used by the government favours those who are supplying stationery but it is totally inadequate for the construction industry. Do not be surprised when you hear such sums in all government projects!

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