Too Many Urban Planners, Not Enough Planned Urban Centres

Have you ever wondered why Kenya doesn’t look like Copenhagen in Denmark or Singapore? let’s not go far, Rwanda!  Why do we have so many traffic jams, pollution, slums, and crime, while other cities have efficient public transport, clean air, green spaces, and safety? The answer is simple: urban planning. Or rather, the lack thereof. There are other factors but we are focusing on Urban planning today.

Urban planning is the process of designing and managing the physical and social aspects of a city. It involves deciding how to use land, where to build roads, bridges, buildings, parks, and other infrastructure, how to provide services such as water, electricity, sanitation, and waste management, and how to promote the well-being of the residents and visitors.

The concept of urban planning is not new. Indeed, some of history’s oldest civilizations had urban planners who created master plans for their cities. The ancient Egyptians, for example, planned their cities along the Nile River, the ancient Greeks designed their cities using geometric principles, and the ancient Romans built their cities using a grid system and aqueducts. Let us not forget about our country! Kenya has a long history of urban planning that dates back to colonial times.

However, urban planning appears to have declined in importance in recent years. Many urban areas have grown haphazardly and without proper planning due to rapid urbanization, population growth, migration and technological changes. As a result, there are numerous issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, inequality, poverty, social unrest, and environmental degradation. One would think that such a massive urbanization process would necessitate a robust and responsive urban planning system to guide the design and management of our cities’ physical and social aspects.

The irony is that our country has no shortage of urban planners. Many Kenyan urban centres lack proper planning, despite the fact that over 10,000 urban planners are working in a variety of sectors, including government organizations, private businesses, academic institutions, NGOs, and international organizations. As a result, there are numerous issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, inequality, poverty, social unrest, and environmental degradation.

So why are there so many urban planners but not enough planned cities? The answer is complex and multifaceted. Some have claimed that urban planning is not something we do in Kenya; rather, what we do is create lovely documents that we display on shelves, and we are so good at it. But the issue doesn’t change; there is still congestion in the city and a whole other problem in our urban centres. 

Urban planning is not something that you do on your own, as in one company waking up and deciding to build a road somewhere. It’s a collaborative thing. Planning is a chaotic field that requires a lot of coordination and collaboration between departments, which is where the major issue lies. There is a significant disconnect between planners and implementers. Planning in Kenya suffers from fragmentation and silos that hinder communication and cooperation among these actors. They may also face conflicts or competition over interests or agendas that prevent consensus or compromise. Be for real you expect a politician who doesn’t know what planning is to come and implement your plans?

Urban planning is a field that necessitates long-term vision and commitment from political leaders and stakeholders. However, many politicians are more concerned with short-term gains and personal interests than the public good. They may also be unaware of or dismissive of the advantages of urban planning. As a result, they may disregard or undermine the recommendations of urban planners, or favour certain groups or interests over others.

These are some of the possible reasons why there are too many urban planners but not enough planned urban centres. Of course, there are also some examples of successful urban planning initiatives that have improved the quality of life. Sources say that a lot of our plans are thriving in Rwanda, this shows that it’s not impossible but rather we are more than capable of achieving good urban planning. Enough of the talks time to take action!

I was so tempted to include a research-based solution and recommendations in this article but I welcome your views. Please Engage me!

‘NAKURU CITY’: Does It Deserve the ‘City’ Status

Hey there,

Welcome to the final blog post of the year 2021!🎊

The next time I write to you will be in 2022, when I’ll most likely be sitting in the same spot, wondering if time is really real… But let’s not go there right now. The past few months have been nonstop school work. Allow me to blame my silence on school. I hope you’ve been doing well all this time.

I’m just here to offer you all the urban news in a lighthearted manner❤️ before you stop reading your email before the holidays. Happy Holidays🎉, I can’t say I’m feeling all merrily. That, I suppose, is adulthood, and if you’re an adult reading this, I’d love to hear where you get your Christmas vibes from aside from family and, of course, food. Or, what are we supposed to feel?😂

This piece was inspired by the president’s declaration that Nakuru has been designated as a city. Many of us were thrilled, but others questioned whether Nakuru truly deserved the title.

A fierce argument has raged in Kenya for some time about whether the two cities, Nakuru or Eldoret, should be given city status.

In today’s post, I’ll highlight several factors that a town needs to meet for it to be a city, and we’ll discuss whether it truly deserves that title, and I’ll let you judge and draw your own conclusions.

According to the urban areas and cities act (an act of parliament that, provide for the classification, management, and governance of urban area and cities), a town must meet the following criteria in order to be upgraded to a city.

• Has a population of at least five hundred thousand residents according to the final gazetted results of the last population census carried out by an institution authorized under any written law, preceding the application for grant of city status. 
• Has an integrated urban area or city development plan in accordance with this Act;
• Has demonstrable capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operation;
• Has demonstrable good system and records of prudent management;
• Has the capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver essential services to its residents as provided in the First Schedule;
• Has institutionalised active participation by its residents in the management of its affairs;
• Has infrastructural facilities, including but not limited to roads, street lighting, markets and fire stations, and an adequate capacity for disaster management; and
• Has a capacity for functional and effective waste disposal.


It is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country and the main way to get to most of the rest of the country. The city is situated at the intersection of several major highways, including the Baringo-Turkana, Nyahururu-Nanyuki-Isiolo, Nairobi, Eldoret-Malaba, Kisumu-Busia, Narok-Kisii-Migori, and Nyeri-Embu-Kitui roads. The Northern Corridor, which connects Mombasa-Nairobi and Kampala, passes through Nakuru. It is also served by the old Mombasa-Kampala railway, making it an ideal center for raw material movement.

The fact that it’s easy to get to from any part of the Rift Valley or the country, except for Mombasa, makes it a good place for businesses to set up. This gives the county a big boost in socio-economic development.

Its Economy Growth Rate

It is one of the country’s most important commercial and economic centers, and one of the top five contributors to GDP (GDP).

Furthermore, Nakuru was ranked as one of the cleanest towns in East Africa in the 1990s, attracting investors and tourists.

As per the UN-Habitat, Nakuru is the fastest-growing town in East and Central Africa, and it’s the fourth-largest metropolitan center in Kenya.

Infrastructure Upgrade

The city has undergone a substantial infrastructure improvement to improve traffic flow, including the development of bypasses and interchanges as well as dual major roads.


Nakuru is a popular tourist destination for both local and international visitors, especially due to its proximity to a variety of game parks. Visitors flock to Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Elemetaita, the Hyrax Prehistoric site, Menengai Crater, and the private Soysambu farm, all within a short distance of the city. Lake Baringo, Bogoria Lake, Lake Naivasha, Aberdare, and Thomson Falls in addition to the Laikipia Conservancies are all accessible via the region’s tourism loop.

Nakuru is also recognized for being a convenient escape from Nairobi for revelers, thanks to its vibrant nightlife, which has earned it the nickname “Nax Vegas.” Afraha, the city’s major stadium, hosts football, athletic, and rugby competitions.


It is estimated by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics that the town has 260,000 residents, which means the city could have more than 300,000 residents. With the increase of services, Nakuru is expected to have more than 500,000 residents in the next 15 years, providing the necessary population for supporting industry growth.

On the brighter side, the city will be the only city in the world that has a lake and a national park. With the title, Nakuru will join the likes of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu in cementing its status as one of Kenya’s cities, with a range of benefits that will see the formerly small town transformed into an economic powerhouse.

What are your thoughts on this, Is Nakuru worth the ‘city’ title?

I haven’t had the opportunity to live in Nakuru; this piece is primarily based on research; I frequently travel through the city on my way home. Your feedback will be very important to those who live there.

Is Nairobi Express way a good idea

I’m excited to write about this coz this was one of my school papers that I enjoyed giving my opinion on. Now that I’m running this blog, I don’t see the reason why not to write about it here. First post this year I’ll be taking suggestions on what you want to be reading.

Allow me to summarize bits about the expressway. The State-backed multi-billion-shilling expressway that is to be developed would ease traffic along Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, and Waiyaki Way. Construction began in October 2019 and the road is planned to be in operation by June next year.

The expressway will have four-lane and six-lane dual carriageways within the current median of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, and Waiyaki Way, as well as 10 interchanges. The segment from the Eastern and Southern by-passes would be a six-lane dual carriageway, while the section from the Southern Bypass to James Gichuru will be a four-lane dual carriageway.

The purpose of the project is to allow a relatively limited number of personal vehicles to move faster. The highway traffic forecast predicts that approximately 22,000 private motor vehicles will use the facility compared to over 500,000 planned passengers per day on Line 1 BRT. Motorists using the Nairobi Expressway under construction can prepare to pay toll charges as high as Sh1,798 for each journey.          

The worrying issues concerning the project:

  • Road designs and construction plans tend to have little concern for green spaces, yet green spaces are at the center of sustainable development.
  • The project requires a substantial acquisition of land, partially due to the need for large areas for toll plazas. This makes the project costly and will draw on funds that could otherwise be invested in much-needed sustainable transport alternatives for 80% of Nairobi’s walking and cycling residents.
  • The business model of the project promotes the use of private cars. This goes against the best practice in urban mobility of reducing the use of personal motor vehicles. It also goes against attempts to remedy existing inequality and to tackle local air pollution and climate change.

Other long-term impacts of road expansion are increased car travel, increased demand for parking (which is already limited), increased fuel consumption, vehicle exhaust pollution, and road accidents.

Many of these overhead urban highways have proved to attract more cars and lead to changes in adjacent use because of perceived ‘infrastructure improvements’ which results in more congestion. After finding they didn’t help alleviate the congestion of traffic, several cities that had set up overhead highways have finally taken them down.

Will the project have a positive impact on the common man? It would be curious to see how this toll policy works and how the public reacts, as the same thing happened in Johannesburg and the drivers actually refused to pay for what they did not pay for before – which contributed to significant financial difficulties for the national road agency and its ability to do their job.

Now here is the importance of public participation, I came across this tweet and it was a good idea however the main concern about the cycling path under the Expressway will be the security of cyclists. If the spaces won’t be used it will be claimed by the homeless for shelter or hawkers and small shops.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing construction of the Nairobi expressway?

Here are some of your thoughts from my insta stories.

What Makes Rwanda Africa’s Most Inspiring Success Story

I’m curious, where do you get your news from? apart from memes and twitter. I did a poll on my Instagram account but I’d love to hear from you. As for me, I prefer not watching Tv news, especially during these pandemic times, coz of the negative anxiety that’s comes with it. I think watching the news makes me worry about things that are beyond my control.

Not that I don’t care about what’s going on, but the news makes me look at the world within the mindset that created the problems. someone might say, why don’t you just have a mindset shift or watch the news with an open mind but different people have different ways of protecting their mental health.

That has been my biggest hack to stay sane during this time. I avoid the news to keep my head around the things I care about, so I prefer customizing my google to bring me news on topics I care about or just randomly checking my socials especially my twitter account to keep myself on the know.

Speaking of twitter, Today’s post is a series of urban tweets I came across, that might interest you, and simply admiring Rwanda as a country. Y’all have heard how the country is termed as beautiful and of the most inspiring success story in Africa. I know that title’s huge, but the country has really done a good job of bouncing back from the tragic 1994 Rwandan Genocide. In this post, we will highlight and discuss several things that make the country unique and beautiful. I too, wish was writing about my country. But there’s a lot of lessons we can learn from them. More so what we can achieve with good leadership and discipline from its citizens.

Rwanda is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see. We can say this country is generally blessed just like many of the countries in Africa. Although the country is landlocked, it’s geography is beautiful, filled with mountains, savannah, lakes (Lake Kivu), and hills hence its nickname:” The land of a thousand hills

The city has Instagram-worthy view, so there’s plenty of viewpoints. Environment and animal conservation are a major priority in the country. The country has a diverse ecosystem and Its government is committed to ensuring that, the local environment is preserved. Since they have worked tirelessly to protect the mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountain range and the environment generally. In 2008, Rwanda banned the use of plastic bags in efforts to go green.

Kigali’s growing business district simply explains the country’s growth stories. This is coz of the successful government policies that have enabled the country to experience a fast transforming economy. Although a percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line, The Rwandan president has noted his ambition to make the country the ‘Singapore of Africa’. In spite of being the smallest country in East Africa, it is listed among the safest country in the world, ahead of countries like New Zealand. This has made tourism to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. Interesting places to visit are the Volcanoes National Park and the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This tweet will explain the kind of leadership this country has.

Simple policies like having a clean-up session that every able-bodied person age ranges from 18 to 65 participates have made them be ranked as the cleanest country in Africa. The clean-up session is called Umuganda meaning: coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome. Some will argue that it’s because of how dense its population is, but it takes a lot to achieve that, from its leadership to the discipline of its citizen. If you’ve seen the recent story: Lessons from Rwanda that Jeff Koinage (Kenyan news anchor) did that was aired on Citizen tv then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The streets are so clean!

The city is an example of a human city since its beautiful, functional, and able to accommodate its citizen population. It is at the forefront of urbanism and sustainable transport, it’s quite easy to get around the city because of the safe motorbike taxis. Beautified streets and quality footpaths of the city center and people can walk safely at night. Kigali Convention Centre being one of the most iconic places in the city

67 Percent of the parliament’s positions are occupied by women. This is a wow factor since women around the world are going against the traditional gender roles to take positions of power, which is happening at a higher rate than normal in Rwanda.

Rwanda is definitely a must visit place. You can add other fun facts about Rwanda that you know off and it’s fascinating. I came across this other tweet but that’s a topic for another day.

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