By Muli wa Kyendo
Today, I traveled to Kitengela in Kajiado County and wandered right through the estates. In the town there are giant buildings lining both sides of the main Namanga Road. And in the estates, there are classic residential houses. There is no doubt that Kitengela is fast growing – a prime area for property developers.
A few years back, it was a barren part of the sprawling Kapiti plains and the cost of property was next to nothing. A relative of mine was among the first people to start a small shop and hotel. And although we wondered about the wisdom of investing in the area, we congregated there on weekends for a “home chat” and some goat meat eating, gazing at the sun setting in the west as in days of old.
Then one day, I found myself researching a story on investment opportunities in Kajiado – a collaborative effort between the then County and Municipal councils and Investment News magazine. Kitengela which had by then grown into a small trading centre featured prominently. The County Council wanted to nurture it to become its main income earner. Its vast land and nearness to Nairobi City and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were to be main attractions.
The recommendations we made were, of course, not followed. But Kitengela grew nevertheless and became a key income earner for Kajiado County.
Unfortunately, the town residents and business community are getting the worst services from Kajiado County. Residential areas are rising up spontaneously. There are no apparent plans. So tracks that have become the roads crisscross all over in the vast plains.
As would be expected, making roads in such chaos isn’t easy. The result is there isn’t a single tarmac road. The only tarmac road is Namanga Road cutting through the centre of the town. So if you see dark clouds, as happened during the time I was there, you are stressed to conclude your business and flee from the chaos.
That is exactly what I did only for heavy rain to catch with me in the town. And what a mess! I got stuck in the thickest traffic jam, in the thickest rain mixed with dust, in the thickest humanity. I had never seen it! It was 4pm and all vehicles put on headlights. No one could see further than a few yards. I thought it better to cut into the side roads. And that was the worst mistake! Deep gulleys marked the “roads” at every point. And where there were no gulley, the sides of the rough roads were eaten up apparently by furious rain water making cars to travel pulling precariously to one side.
When I eventually escaped the chaos and the foggy rain and was driving along Namanga Road towards Nairobi, I was whistling with joy. Little did I know that the chaos and thick rains would catch up with me at Mavoko – also known as Athi River – another unplanned town. But that is a story for another day.