Mombasa is arguably one of the oldest towns and cities in Kenya going by the rich history it holds. Located along the Indian Ocean Eastern of Kenyan Coast it is the country’s second largest city after the capital, Nairobi. Most of it’s history is conserved at the Fort Jesus and the old town area, all these are along Nkrumah road.
The British, the Portuguese, the Persians and all those who claimed this county did Mombasa an injustice in the way it was planned and the jurisdictions thereafter. If it’s been more than a decade since you came to Mombasa then visiting will be a great shock to you. The population has grown just has business has also expanded. There are a lot of opportunities in this city, but therein lies the problems.
For instance, look at the number of cars on the road, both public service vehicles and private cars. The number has plummeted yet the roads remain the same. This is truly unacceptable but the inhabitants have no option but to make do with the constant traffic jams in and out of the city. There a lot of commercial and residential premises that have encroached the road reserves in and out of the island. All this as a result of compromised or non existent supervision to construction permits by the relevant authorities. For this there exists only one solution; demolition, the kind witnessed in President Kibaki’s regime when the then Minister of roads ruthlessly and fearlessly brought down buildings including that of a corporate like Nakumatt along Thika Road in Nairobi. And look at the capital city now, it’s boasting of superhighways and bypasses that were just mere plans. Tanzania’s Dar e salaam is also building dual carriageways that Kenyans can only dream of.
Back to Mombasa, is it really am option that our politicians would explore? Of course not. And suffer the wrath of their ancestors? Or worse still be cursed by their people? The real reason none of them can fathom such a thought is in the numbers. You demolish houses along Karisa Maitha road(old Malindi road) you are finished politically because these same families have relatives in all corners of the town. To make it harder still mosques have been developed on the same road reserve. The same way it would be almost impossible to start demolishing churches, you don’t mess with places of worship that’s for sure.
South Coast presents another challenge that hopefully will be manageable once the Dongo Kundu by pass is complete. The ferries that carry passengers to and from through Likoni have proved to be life threatening time and again with ferries stalling and at the same time multiple breakdowns. You would think having a subway ,a bridge or ensuring that all ferries are serviced fully would be options. Alas doing this isn’t good for the politics of the day, Siasa ya Chai, ya kitu kidogo. False promises. Instead residents doing their business from both divides of the ferry have to pray that they reach the other side safe and sound. All this in a city that boasts of a world class port that is the gateway to East and Central Africa.
We can do better. Where there’s will there’s a way.