By KENFREY KIBERENGE
Posted Sunday, March 24 2013 at 00:30
Posted Sunday, March 24 2013 at 00:30
On Friday March 1, Nairobi lawyer Dennis Kimathi was looking forward to a long weekend after finishing work at the High Court in Nairobi’s Milimani as the following Monday had been declared a holiday to allow Kenyans to vote.At 6pm, he made his way to an ATM and withdrew Sh4,000 as earlier, he had made plans to have a few drinks with friends.He went to Galitos on Moi Avenue for dinner but before he went in, decided to phone his friends but realised he had very little airtime. As he pulled out his wallet to buy a scratch card, a man snatched it and crossed over to the other side of the road, disappearing in the heavy human traffic.“I lost three ATM cards, Sh4,000, ID and a Law Society of Kenya card,” he said.Luckily, he still had his phone and was able to call his friends who bailed him out.But his misery did not end there. The following Saturday as he returned to his South B home from a night out, he was waylaid at the gate by gunmen who made off with his new Sh70,000 iPhone.Mr Kimathi’s story typifies the insecurity Nairobians have to live with.
And with the entry of governors, Nairobi’s Evans Kidero has his work cut out for him as residents await a panacea to the insecurity and filth that has returned to the streets, thanks to a negligent City Hall.A check around the city showed that most street lights are not functioning and the untrimmed trees have created dark places which have become mugging spots.The police patrols introduced four years ago have all but ceased with a few officers seen late at night.The return of street families and hawkers has also worsened the situation. Children between the ages of four and 10 waylay passersby to beg for food and money as their mothers watch from a distance.Glue-sniffing, able bodied urchins, driven out of Nairobi into rehabilitation centres 10 years ago, are also back. Some have sought refuge in a derelict building opposite Nakumatt Lifestyle on Moktar Daddah Street.Last week, Ms Lorna Mbithe was accosted by a street child near Odeon Cinema who threatened to smear her with human waste if she did not part with Sh50. “It was at 7pm and already dark as the street lights are not working. I gave him Sh20 and he let me go,” she said.
Phone snatching that had ceased in parts of the CBD is also back. Ms Judy Muusi, a student at Egerton University, suffered a sprained knee after a thief snatched her phone near Odeon Cinema two weeks ago. “He hit me and I fell. I hurt my knee and my ear was bleeding,” she said.Mr Maurice Gitonga was also a victim of the fresh crime wave. Four young men accosted him near Barclays Bank at the corner of Kenyatta and Moi avenues in December. “In 30 seconds I had been thrown to the ground and my pockets emptied,” said Mr Gitonga, who had just withdrawn Sh10,000 from an ATM.Former Town Clerk John Gakuo managed to tackle insecurity through well-lit streets and his efforts were supplemented by police patrols. But over the years, officials at City Hall have failed to maintain this.An opinion poll last year showed that Nairobians rate insecurity as their greatest concern; much higher than unemployment, lack of proper housing, water and sanitation. For Nairobians, their hopes have been raised that a new era has dawned.In his campaigns, Mr Kidero singled out youth unemployment, slums and ethnic politics as the major causes of insecurity and promised to tackle them. “Burying my head in the sand like an ostrich has never been; is not and will never be my style,” he said.“The city is infested with organised criminal gangs but often there is lack of political will to squarely deal with them because of vested political interests.”He said he planned to use police patrols and CCTV surveillance to tackle the problem.