It is late in the afternoon on one of the city streets where gloomy and drowsy street children are whiling away the time.
They are huddled in a small area next to a busy soda depot — some on the pavement on Taveta Lane in their muddy and murky clothes.
In the past, garbage-strewn streets were a common sight in the city. However, things have changed in some places but deteriorated in others — especially east of Tom Mboya Street.
Although garbage collection companies have been contracted to clean up the streets, there are some areas that are still an eyesore and require urgent City Hall attention.
The county Environment executive, Mr Evans Ondieki, is aware that some streets are littered with human waste and garbage. He admits that they are in a sorry state because cleaners cannot access them due to insecurity.
“I am planning to set a day to ensure that these areas are cleaned and security enforced,” he said.
At the Globe interchange on Murang’a Road — street children, mostly in their teens and early 20s — have taken over the area.
They harass motorists as well as pedestrians and rob them, particularly in the evenings. A tunnel that pedestrians used as a shortcut is now inaccessible. The street families have turned it into one of their dens.
The tunnel has human waste. As a result of scarcity of public toilets in the city centre, people are forced to relieve themselves in the dark alleys.
Another headache for the county government is the unruliness of matatu and bus crews.
“We want to move the matatus and buses from the city centre, but lack an alternative site,” says the Transport executive, Mr Mohamed Abdullahi.
The Nairobi County Government had attempted to bring sanity by displacing the buses and matatus.
Governor Evans Kidero tried to discourage buses from operating from a section of Ronald Ngala Street by constructing pedestrian footpaths. But the matatu owners went to court and got an injunction.
Another messy place is Cross Road, a street that is the terminus for matatus from Nakuru and Nyahururu.
A trader selling her wares by the road said: “See the way the matatus crowd here. If a building happens to go up in flames, the fire brigade cannot access the place.”
Dr Kidero commissioned a Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee in January, which collected views from the public and experts.
One of the recommendations is to move matatus, buses, taxis and boda bodas from the centre of the city.
The committee, chaired by Prof Marion Mutugi, handed over its draft report to the governor in June. The county boss was supposed to have released it last month but postponed the event for unexplained reasons.
The question of hawkers is also another issue that City Hall is yet to address.
The vendors are increasing day by day. From 5pm, they invade most of the streets in the city centre, turning them into chaotic market places.
Most of the filthy streets have become havens for drug peddlers and criminals. For instance, Taveta Lane is a narrow alley connecting the busy Latema and Accra roads, which are matatu stages.
The lane lacks lighting. Our team visited the lane to establish if it is one of the places where hard drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin are sold.
We found street children smoking rolls of what looks like cigarettes, while others were having a siesta as they basked in the sun next to a heap of garbage.
Some appeared intoxicated and too lethargic to stand up. Despite the murk, life was going on as if everything was normal.
While nearby streets are clean, Taveta Lane is foul-smelling and repugnant.
Raw sewage discharges from an uncovered manhole, oozing onto the road where pedestrians have to jump over it.
“These young people are smoking bhang (marijuana), which is sold here,” a hawker says and on noticing our camera, warns us against taking photos.
There are a number of people idling in the lane. I approach one of them. He looks me straight in the eye and moves away without a word.
“Bhang is sold here but you must understand the language used for them to sell you the stuff,” a tout who is willing to help us buy a roll on Latema Road tells us.
“Take back your cash! They say they cannot trust you,” he tells me, giving me back my Sh350.
The ugly face of Taveta Lane is an example of the urban decay some parts of Nairobi are gradually falling into.