How long before Thika Road succumbs to this exodus?
Posted Thursday, November 22 2012 at 20:00
- From Pangani in Nairobi all the way to Makongeni along the Thika-Garissa highway, everyone wants a piece of this pie, but at what cost to existing infrastructure?
- Thousands upon thousands are moving to the newly-completed Thika Superhighway, exerting pressure on existing — and pitifully dismal — infrastructure. Various studies indicate that where central water, sewerage, lighting and security services are not at par with population growth, disaster is always a minute away. The government says it is working on proposals to arrest this looming catastrophe, but urban-urban migration will not wait for it
In another study on the impact of the Thika Highway expansion on real estate property values, Erastus Oyoo interviewed the Municipal Council of Ruiru resident engineer, who revealed that Ruiru town was yet to have a master plan for effective planning.
Mr Oyoo, a land economist, found that areas along the highway that had good water supply, sewerage and drainage systems, electricity and other facilities were commanding higher housing demands than areas in the interior “because of the influx of people from other towns”.
However, he noted, development approvals for industries and residential and commercial properties had been overstretching the existing services, resulting in shortage of essential services and some tenants were already complaining of water rationing, “something that never used to be the norm”.
Recent research has shown that in the Ruiru Municipality, which covers 526.6 square kilometres and has a population of 150,710 people, all other services, apart from roads that are maintained by the municipal council, are virtually non-existent.
Water is sold or collected from boreholes owned by businesspeople and waste disposal is done mainly through septic tanks or pit latrines.
“Due to the increase in population occasioned by the superhighway, the local authority service delivery action plan should come into action because the bigger population will require more services than the municipal council can handle,” advised one researcher.
Early this month, Ruiru Municipality town clerk L.A. Khayadi called on land owners to pay land rates to help the local authority provide better facilities and services to match the rapid development and growing population of Ruiru town.
She said that although the development of the Thika Superhighway and the Eastern and Northern by-passes were accelerating the municipality’s growth, it had also brought with it a number of challenges, like handling of storm waters.
Charles Wanjohi Ndoria, also a practising land economist, recently noted that numerous commercial, residential, and institutional developments are coming up within Thika town and surrounding areas.
The areas with the highest construction activity, according to him, include Ruiru, Juja, Ndarugu, Witeithie, Njomoko, Mangu’s White Sisters Road, Ngoiwa Estate, Garissa Road’s Landless, and Muguga estates and Gatanga Road’s Maki and Maporomoko estates.
Notable developments include Thika Greens along the superhighway and condominiums such as Flame Tree Park, Bahati Ridge, and Kivulini Apartments along Gatanga Road.
Martin K. Gitau, the sales and marketing manager at Harvey Engineering, believes that there is still a lot to be done by the Thika Municipal Council as the area is growing exponentially.
He says that the areas around the superhighway could grow to become a “modern slum” if left at the mercy of the council. He notes that security, water and sewerage services, and security lighting along the streets will be a major concern. That is why developers are seeking the services of private providers, even though they are more expensive.
“Private service providers are more professional, reliable, and accountable,” he says. He would prefer privatisation of services offered by the council even if they would be more expensive, and believes that since private firms provide professionalism, their services are a notch higher than those of the council, which he deems unprofessional, unreliable, and unaccountable.
“I think professionalism in the council and in the Ministry of Local Government is necessary if infrastructural development is to be achieved,” he notes.
However, Naureen Ali, the marketing manager of Elegant Properties Limited, believes that the local authorities in those areas will adapt to the area’s growth with time.
“We have to have faith in the planning of councils in regard to the management of the growth. Just like any other council, this may be a new phenomenon that they will have to plan and adapt to,” she says, noting that it may be hard for them to cope at first, but given time, they would be able to adapt to the growth.
In his study of the likely impact of the expansion of Thika Road, Mr Mairura recommended that local authorities and the central government join forces to avoid “eventual congestion, which will have a deafening impact, leading to subsequent decline in property value appreciation”.