Haphazard Policy Directives are Harmful to the Citizens.

A few weeks ago, the government gave a directive on the enforcement of the Michuki laws. It is interesting to note that the enforcement depicts some laxity. We expected the laws to have been in place all along because they are laws anyway. Laws are there to be followed all the time. But enforcing these ones means we had failed terribly. It means we stopped following them at some point.

The government never cared of the laws because the guy who came up with them wasn’t there any longer. We the citizens couldn’t follow them either even though it is our obligation to do so. The enforcers slept over them and milked the matatus illegitimately because the laws were as good as absent. The public service vehicles too didn’t care to meet the required standards because everybody else never cared to play their part. It turns out that it was a system that was in perfect harmony with the status quo.

Then Fred Matiang’i thought it wise to re-introduce them and things were never the same again. In the first few days of the enforcement, I remember walking crazy distances to do my work because the two main parties, the government and matatu operators, were at loggerheads. I couldn’t connect why it became a huge issue because it was a law that had been in place for a long time. The problem however lay in the enforcement and the engagement between all the relevant parties touched by the directive.

Last week another directive was given by the Nairobi County Government boss, Mike Mbuvi Sonko banning entry of public service vehicles into the central business district. Things were in complete mess for a whole part of last Monday. It is interesting to note that the move ended up creating more problems than solutions. Masses of people thronged the streets of Nairobi like busy ants. You could look and wonder if all those people are usually within the city at any point in time.

It was a day of walking crazy distances again to get a vehicle that could take you to where you were destined. It was chaos. Stages for vehicles were mixed up and locating one was as if someone had won a lottery. I was a victim and I know how bad it was.

For instance I was on my way from Kiambu last Monday and after boarding a vehicle that was to ferry me to the Kariakor terminus as directed by the county boss. Unfortunately the vehicles moved so slowly from the Muthaiga area and by the time we were to join Park road area, it was completely impassable. Our driver quickly changed mind and headed to the Ngara-Fig tree terminus. I ended up being inconvenienced twice.

Traffic-jam in Nairobi
Traffic Jam in Nairobi. Photo Courtesy of KBC

I stood to observe the Ngara- Fig tree terminus for a while. Vehicles rarely moved an inch for the time I stood there. Talking about the jam and this time it was all about people. Thousands of people were moving slowly on the bridge that crosses the Thika Super highway in the Ngara area. I feared that if that kind of jam happened on that miserable bridge continuously for a month, it would surely crumble.

Vehicles were barricaded along the roads on Jogoo road, Park road, Ngara and in Kariakor. Those bus stops could not hold the massive number of vehicles operating on those routes. This made the policy banning vehicles from accessing the CBD a mockery. The directive had not tied all the loose ends to make it effective.

This is the order of our policies. Most of them follow the top down approach instead of the bottom up approach. For instance the directive never included a proper public participation. I even doubt if there was any public participation at all. The Matatu owners’ association leaders hinted that the government had closed their doors on them meaning that they never participated. This is unacceptable especially when it is the rule of the people by the people and for the people.

The move could have been in good faith, and I can agree that there is need to de-congest the city, but the county government needed to be prepared first. For instance the government ought to have put in place a mechanism to handle the interchange of the commuters from the terminus to the CBD. Another preparedness was that of ensuring there is enough room in the new terminus stops to hold all the vehicles. And this needed the participation of the operators themselves.

It was also important to inform the commuters of the moves by giving them adequate time to transition. The problem however lies in the aspect of some people waking up one morning and giving directives concerning any matter they feel can disrupt a few things to make others feel that that someone is the power guy.

By the time a policy reaches the implementation stage, it could have undergone a number of stages. Now that we failed from the onset in the planning aspect of the city, we could perhaps begin by bringing on board urban planners, the matatu operatives, the public representatives and the government itself to ensure every interested party has input in the whole thing.

The story of imposing some of these directives on people might cook to a level where the people will wake up one day and cook their leaders as it happened in some European country many years ago. And then we will discover the people had no problem with the directives themselves but rather the process and the people enforcing the directives.

Well thought policies, implemented in the right way are a means of insuring the future. If all these things had been well thought of from the very beginning, they couldn’t end up as opportunities of stealing and as conduits of corruption as they do nowadays. We often wonder who gets the bigger cake of the loot in this bizarre fiasco.


Copyright @ 2018



Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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