According to the Wikipedia, its a hundred years since the inception of Nairobi City by the British(1899) as a simple rail depot along the railway linking Uganda and Mombasa. The town quickly grew from a railway depot to the Capital of British East Africa in 1907. It became the capital city of Kenya after Kenya attained her independence in 1963. At the moment it is estimated that Nairobi has 3 million plus residents and the number is expected to grow due to high numbers of rural to urban migration. There are a number of reasons why people migrate to Nairobi and can be categorised into two: Push and Pull factors. Push factors are mainly Instability in certain regions in the country that cause people of these areas to run to cities for safety, Harsh climatic conditions in various regions in the country and unemployment in other areas of the country. Pull factors are: Services available in cities, infrastructure, better jobs, a sense of personal safety, Ready market for goods and services among others.
Since its inception Nairobi City has grown in leaps and bounds. However, this growth in most cases was never checked with adequate planning and enforcement of building regulations and by-laws; this has led to a lot of challenges. While developments continued and continue to sprout everyday and everywhere within the city, certain essential services, public utilities and amenities have and are at a constant a case in point is fire fighting equipment, stations and fire marshals. Below are the major challenges Nairobi City is facing:
Planning: Nairobi has been functioning and offering its services in the past 40 or so years without a master plan.The results of this are evident everywhere in the city; developments coming up without any clear order. Examples are 'estates' such as Githurai, Zimmerman, Kayole, Umoja, Dandora, Kangemi among many more.
Solid Waste management: Residents of Nairobi are literary walking on garbage and waste. During the early 90s and 80s going backwards, Waste management services offered by the city council were somehow effective. Dumpstars were located strategically in city estates and there used to be garbage collection tracks that used to empty the dumpstars once they were full and dispose them in a professional maner. During the mid 90s, those services gradually vanished including the dumpstars and garbage collection tracks. To date, there is no clear waste management system in Nairobi and its environs. Waste management was effectively left in the hands of the city residents. This has led to garbage pilling up in the middle of roads and anyone who feels like he/she can start a garbage collection business joins the bandwagon.
Sewerage and Liquid Waste: Nairobi is one city where most of its sewage and liquid waste either ends up in water bodies and/or rivers or it degrades the land. The only sewage system available is that which was left by the colonial administration. What is happening at the moment is that as new developments come up, they connect their sewage systems to the old one leading to over flows due to overloads. As a result, sewage freely flows into water bodies and on land contaminating everything wherever it flows with its pathogens.
Inadequate housing and informal settlements: For close to three decades now since BuruBuru and Kahawa West estates were constructed, The City Council of Nairobi has not made any substantial arrangement to ensure that it provides housing for the residents in the city. Private developers have taken advantage of this vacuum to make mega profits but still housing requirements are and have not been met. This has led to haphazard developments and proliferation of informal settlements.
Fire Safety: Nairobi is a city in dire need of fire safety measures. Fire Safety measure are not in place in most city suburbs and wherever they exist, they are either defective or inadequate. Most buldings in the city have not been inspected by qualified fire professionals hence are potential death traps in the event of fires.
Security: Due to the rapid urbanization taking place in Nairobi and the inability of the City Council of Nairobi and the Kenya government to provide services to the citizens Some essential services like security have been left behind. As a result, there is run way crime in various suburbs of the city. Although the crime is concentrated in the eastlands side of the city where residential populations at high density, No place in Nairobi is safe.
Public transportation within the city: During the early 90s when we had the Kenya Bus Services, transportation within the city was orderly. This order came to an end when public transportation was privatised and members of the public allowed to offer this service. This is when we saw commuter fares rise, road rage went up and general road disorder in the way public transport vehicles are painted, Loud deafening music, dangerous driving and the way touts handled passangers. Commuter trains are insignificant since their operation and services are undefined. Anyone who feels he/she has the resources and wants to venture into the transportation business has ventured into the business due to lack of regulation mechanisms. As a result there is heavy conjestion in virtually all city roads during peak hours in the form of traffic jams. The city roads are also very narrow and need to be increased in their widths so that they carrying capacity goes up.
Zoning: There are various types of zoning. Vertical, Horizontal and Zoning using population density. In Nairobi, there is no clear policy on development zoning and control and if present, they have and/or are not enforced. For example, neighbourhoods such as Kahawa West and Umoja that were zoned to be bungalows have been dostorted with four storey apartments.