Functions of the Rent Restriction Tribunal


The rent restriction tribunal renders an important service to the public by attending to rental issues surrounding landlords and tenants of protected tenancy. In particular, the tribunal offers arbitration services relating to disputes in these tenancies. A protected tenant is one who lives in a ‘controlled house’ which are those residential buildings that have been put under the Rent Restriction Act, Chapter 296 of the Laws of Kenya. The criterion of placing a residential house under the Act is those with a standard rent of Kshs. 2,500 per month and below.

The Rent Restriction Act is meant to protect tenants from exploitation by landlords while guaranteeing the landlord reasonable profits from his investment in housing. The ultimate aim of the Rent Restriction Tribunal therefore is to facilitate stability of rents especially for low-income earners and ensure that capital invested in housing yield reasonable returns. To achieve this, the Department coordinates the functions of the Rent Tribunals which have been established for the purpose of administering the Rent Restriction Act. The Act allows the minister responsible for housing to establish Tribunals where he/she thinks are needed both in urban and rural areas.

In order to give effect to the Rent Restriction Act, the Tribunals hear and determine suits filed by both tenants and landlords. The Tribunal also determines applications for assessment and review of standard rent. Applications brought before the Tribunals by the aggrieved parties arise from the disputes between landlords and the tenants. These disputes include among others: – unlawful evictions, unlawful rent increases and rent defaults. Most of these complaints are resolved administratively but in some circumstances, the police are involved to investigate alleged wrongful acts that border on criminal act.

Ten Rent Tribunals have so far been established by Legal Notice No. 212 of 21st May 1990 as amended by Legal Notice No. 431 of 3rd November 1994. These include: – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kakamega, Eldoret, Embu, Garissa and Lamu. These Tribunals also serves their adjacent zones.

A landlord or Tenant can file a suit in the Tribunal which can be commenced by a plaint, Notice of Motion or Chamber Summons as prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code. When a case is heard, the Tribunal makes an order which may be enforced as a decree through a civil court.

The Procedure of instituting a matter in the Rent Restriction Tribunal is as follows:-

  1. Report the matter to Rent Restriction Tribunal.
  2. The complainant is advised to institute proceedings in the Tribunal Court.
  3. The matter is allocated a hearing date and hearing notices served to the respondents.
  4. The matter is heard in the Tribunal Court and the necessary orders/rulings are issued.

The New Urban Agenda: Key Commitments

General view shows a government slum upgrading project near the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi

On 21 October 2016, UN Member States agreed upon the New Urban Agenda at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador. This Agenda sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development and will help rethink how we plan, manage and live in cities. The New Urban Agenda is roadmap for building cities that can serve as engines of prosperity and centres of cultural and social well-being while protecting the environment. The Agenda also provides guidance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and provides the underpinning for actions to address climate change.

Now it is up to national governments and local authorities to implement the Agenda, with technical and financial partnerships and assistance from the international community.

In the New Urban Agenda, world leaders have committed to:

Provide basic services for all citizens
These services include: access to housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, nutritious food, healthcare and family planning, education, culture and access to communication technologies.

Ensure that all citizens have access to equal opportunities and face no discrimination
Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The New Urban Agenda calls on city authorities to take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, older persons, indigenous people, among other groups.

Promote measures that support cleaner cities
Tackling air pollution in cities is good both for people’s health and for the planet. In the Agenda, leaders have committed to increase their use of renewable energy, provide better and greener public transport, and sustainably manage their natural resources.

Strengthen resilience in cities to reduce the risk and the impact of disasters
Many cities have felt the impact of natural disasters and leaders have now committed to implement mitigation and adaptation measures to minimize these impacts. Some of these measures include: better urban planning, quality infrastructure and improving local responses.

Take action to address climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions
Leaders have committed to involve not just the local government but all actors of society to take climate action taking into account the Paris Agreement on climate change which seeks to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Sustainable cities that reduce emissions from energy and build resilience can play a lead role.

Fully respect the rights of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons regardless of their migration status
Leaders have recognized that migration poses challenges but it also brings significant contributions to urban life. Because of this, they have committed to establish measures that help migrants, refugees and IDPs make positive contributions to societies.

Improve connectivity and support innovative and green initiatives
This includes establishing partnerships with businesses and civil society to find sustainable solutions to urban challenges

Promote safe, accessible and green public spaces
Human interaction should be facilitated by urban planning, which is why the Agenda calls for an increase in public spaces such as sidewalks, cycling lanes, gardens, squares and parks. Sustainable urban design plays a key role in ensuring the liveability and prosperity of a city.

Implementing the Urban Agenda Means:

  • New Urban Rules and Regulations– The outcomes in terms of quality of an urban settlement is dependent on the set of rules and regulations and its implementation. Proper urbanization requires the rule of law.
  • Improved Urban Planning and Design- Establishing the adequate provision of common goods, including streets and open spaces, together with an efficient pattern of buildable plots.
  • Municipal Finance– For a good management and maintenance of the city, local fiscal systems should redistribute parts of the urban value generated.
  • National Urban Policies- These establish a connection between the dynamics of urbanization and the overall process of national development.

It is for the above reasons that The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) has partnered with Safaricom to organize a residents dialogue forum on 14th September 2017 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Nairobi. The theme of the discussions will be: “Opportunities for effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Kenya”

To find out more about the implementation of the Agenda visit:


Omar, Shahbal face off in Mombasa gubernatorial debate

mbsa debate

Mombasa gubernatorial candidates Omar Hassan Omar, (Wiper Democratic Movement – Kenya) and Suleiman Shahbal of the Jubilee party (R) during the gubernatorial debate at the Pride Inn Hotel, July 26, 2017.


The biting issue of uncollected garbage rocked the Mombasa gubernatorial debate, that saw only two candidates taking part. Incumbent Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho, his rivals Hezron Awiti of the Vision Democratic Party (VDP) and KADDU Asili’s Dan Muunga skipped the debate that was attended by Suleiman Shahbal of the Jubilee party and Omar Hassan Omar, of the Wiper Democratic Movement – Kenya. The debate was organised by the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (Kara) on July 26, 2017, at Pride Inn Hotel.

The two participants sold their agenda during the debate, with Shahbal saying Mombasa used to be a model tourist city but had now been turned into an eye sore for residents and visitors who have been forced to keep up with the horrific sites of mountains of garbage and foul smell, terming the city as a dumpsite.

“The situation will however change and my promise to you is that i will end this problem within 100 days once you elect me to office. A clean and beautiful environment is paramount for all of us. That is why we must remain responsible by maintaining our environment.”

Shahbal who is vying for the second time, said he will will improve the business environment in Mombasa to allow local businesses to grow and attract investors, hence creating more jobs.

“I have created employment for over 3,500 people in Kenya, brought investment of over 12 billion dollars into Kenya. I have the humility, competence and experience to turn Mombasa into a metropolis,” said Shahbal.

On his part, Omar who is also the Wiper Party secretary general, said if elected, he would ensure corruption has no place in the coastal city, besides making sure sure that the garbage menace is resolved, for the county’s development and good health for the people.

Source: dickens luvanda:








How to Organize a Residents Association

2016-10-18 11.21.47.jpg

A resident association is a group of neighbors who get together, share their ideas, thoughts, feelings and work cooperatively to make their neighborhood a better place to live. Before you ask your neighbors to organize, you have to convince them of the benefits of forming such neighborhood association. Having a recognized neighborhood will give you a voice and an advocate.

Neighborhood associations greatly improve the two-way communication between the city and its residents. Your neighborhood will have a clear, organized way to speak to city government with a guarantee you will be heard. You will have a tool for relating directly to both your elected local leaders and the county government. This increased communication can be a resource for upcoming meetings or other community opportunities that may benefit you and your neighborhood. Moreover, you will be put in touch with your neighbors, people who share your fondness for and frustrations of your area.

When does a neighborhood need to develop a resident association? Various issues help a neighborhood to acquire a sense of identity and feel a need to organize and develop a neighborhood association; for example:

  • Land use issues (location of a new school, shopping center, library, highway, etc.)
  • Neighborhood improvements (additional street signs or lights, repair of a sidewalk).
  • Urban design issues (developing of architectural themes for public & recreational spaces).
  • Dealing with crime and other disturbances.

Before organizing a new neighborhood association, check for existing associations in and around your area.

To discover the names and boundaries of existing associations and contact information within these organizations, check with The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) at 254-020-3873828. KARA is the umbrella body that represents the voice of residents associations across the country. If there is an active resident association in your area, consider joining it!

If you and your neighbors decide to organize your own neighborhood association, consider the following:

  • Identify meeting time and place for the first organizational meeting.
  • Widely distribute information throughout the neighborhood about the new association’s first meeting.
  • Include everyone living or owning property within the association’s boundaries as a potential member.
  • Keep everyone informed about association activities. A newsletter or a Web site are two ways to inform your neighborhood about the association’s activities.

It is also important to remember the organizational structure that works for your neighborhood now may change in the future. Resident associations change over time as they grow, mature and respond to the needs of their members.

To bring together a quite diverse group of people to reach a common goal is a difficult task. To get started, you will need to form a small group of committed neighbors who share your aspiration to form a neighborhood association. This small group of individuals is referred to as the core group. Members of the core group should share a common vision regarding important issues affecting the neighborhood. Be sure to keep the size of the core group at ten or less people. If the core group gets too large, it will become unmanageable and result in low productivity.

Who should be a part of your core group? People whose views are respected by other members of the community:

  • Homeowners
  • Business owners
  • Apartment residents, managers, owners
  • Church leaders
  • School teachers or administrators

Once the members of the core group have been identified and a meeting time and place have been established, develop a well-planned agenda for the first meeting. Nobody likes to attend meetings that are unproductive and a waste of time. During this initial meeting the core group will need to:

  • Determine the boundaries of the neighborhood.
  • Develop a complete list of neighborhood residents.
  • Discuss each person’s ideas concerning the problems and needs of the neighborhood.
  • Discuss goals, projects and concerns.
  • Discuss strategies to achieve common goals.
  • Identify current and potential leaders.
  • Determine special skills, talents and willingness to participate.
  • Determine a convenient time and location for members to attend meetings.
  • Determine how frequently members would like to meet.

The core group has to meet several times before it will be ready to hold meeting with the entire neighborhood. Once the entire neighborhood is involved the core group should continue meeting as an advisory board for the newly formed resident association.

For more information on resident associations’ formation, contact KARA:



Urban land use: Zoning


What is zoning?

Zoning is the practice of allocating different areas of a Town, or City different uses. Zoning is an explicit and legal way of ordering land uses and is the basic tool of urban planning today. Through zoning, local governments have the legal obligation to relate every piece of private property to all others and to be concerned about the health, safety and well being of the community.

Types of zoning
There are several types of zoning codes in use today and combinations thereof. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the “types” of codes and their respective “formats” or “techniques”, so all will be discussed here to some extent

Residential zones
a) Single Detached Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing.

b) Low Density Infill Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for retaining single family housing, while allowing some duplex development.

c) Low Density Redevelopment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family and duplex housing while allowing some apartment or row housing with up to four units.

d) Residential Small Lot Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing with attached garages on smaller lots.

e) Planned Lot Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing on smaller lots and accessed by a rear lane.

f) Semi-Detached Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for primarily semi-detached and duplex housing.

g) Row Housing Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for relatively low to medium density housing, such as row houses or town houses.

h) Medium Density Multiple Family Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium density housing, such as row houses or town houses that may have separate second storey units.

i) Low Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for low rise apartment buildings up to four storeys.

j) Medium Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium rise apartment buildings up to six storeys in height.

k) High Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high rise apartment buildings.

l) Rural Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for permanent single family residential development in a rural setting.

m) Urban Character Row Housing Zone

  • This zone provides for medium density Row Housing in a manner that is characteristic of urban settings and can include more intensive development in the form of, but not limited to, smaller yards, greater height, orientation to a public street, and greater attention to architectural detail. This zone is intended as a transition zone between low and higher density housing.


Commercial zones

a) Neighborhood Convenience Commercial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for convenience commercial and personal service uses, intended to serve the day-to-day needs of residents within the neighborhood.

b) Shopping Centre Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for larger shopping centres intended to serve a community or regional area. Residential, office, entertainment and cultural uses may be included in this zone.

c) Low Intensity Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for low intensity commercial, office and service uses located along arterial roadways that border residential areas.

d) General Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for businesses that require large sites and a location with good visibility and accessibility along, or adjacent to major public roadways.

e) Commercial Mixed Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium intensity commercial development near capacity transportation nodes.

f) Highway Corridor Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high quality commercial development along roads serving as entrance routes to the City.

g) Commercial Office Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium intensity office, commercial and residential development in the inner city, around Light Rail Transit station areas or other locations offering good accessibility by private automobile and transit.

Industrial zones

a) Industrial Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for industrial businesses that carry out their operations such that no nuisance is created or apparent outside an enclosed building, and the use is compatible with any adjacent non-industrial zones.

b) Light Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high quality, light industrial developments and limited accessory outdoor activities. Any nuisance factor associated with these uses will not extend outside an enclosed building.

c) Medium Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for manufacturing, processing, assembly, distribution, service and repair uses that carry out part of their operation outdoors or require outdoor storage areas. Any nuisance associated with these uses should not extend beyond the site.

d) Heavy Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for industrial uses that due to their appearance, noise, odour, risk of toxic emissions, or fire and explosion hazards are incompatible with residential, commercial, and other land uses.

Urban Services zones

a) Urban Service Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for publicly and privately owned facilities which provide institutional or community services.

b) Public Utility Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for a system or utilities that are used to benefit the public, such as water, sewage disposal, electric power, heating, waste management, drainage, public transportation and telecommunications.

c) Public Parks Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for an area of public land for recreational uses.

d) Natural Areas Protection Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for the conservation, preservation and restoration of identified natural areas, features and ecological processes.

e) River Valley Activity Node Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for limited commercial development for recreation and tourism uses within designated areas of parkland along the river, creeks and ravines.

Benefits of zoning

  • Stabilize and increase property values, particularly residential properties,
  • Relieve and check congestion in the streets and neighborhoods,
  • Increase safety and enhance security and administration of security services in buildings and residential neighborhoods,
  • Make business more efficient by ensuring there is order, and
  • Make life healthier by increasing the quality and aesthetic values of a locality, neighborhood, city or town.

We need planned cities to cater for pedestrians and motorists


Most people would agree that Nairobi is one of the most pedestrian-unfriendly cities in the world.

It is a city built for the motor vehicle, not for people who ride bicycles or walk.

Few of the new roads that have been built have pavements or bicycle paths alongside them.

Yet, pedestrians and cyclists comprise the majority of road users in the city.

If Nairobi were a place that catered to the needs of most of its residents, there would be more pavements, bicycle paths, public parks, and playing fields in the city.

The irony is that, despite having more roads in the city, traffic in Nairobi has reached nightmare proportions.

This contradiction was predicted some years ago by Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogota, when he gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi.

Penalosa said that expansion of the road network in many cities had shown that instead of reducing vehicular traffic, it actually increased it.

This could explain why, despite the construction of several bypasses on Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway remains the most congested artery in the city at all hours of the day. (It takes an average of two hours to get from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Westlands roundabout via Uhuru Highway — I know because I use this route regularly.)

The former mayor said that instead of making more room for cars, cities should make more room for pedestrians, cyclists, and rapid transit systems.

This would encourage residents to use alternative forms of transport, which would lessen traffic on the roads.

When he was mayor of Bogota between 1998 and 2001, Penalosa created a bus rapid transit system featuring bus-only lanes. (Wouldn’t it be great if Nairobi had matatu-only lanes? It would create order on the roads — that is, of course, if traffic police officers do not take bribes from matatu drivers who veer into the wrong lanes.)

Penalosa will be remembered for building an extensive network of bicycle paths and pedestrian-only streets at a time when cities such as London and Paris had not even thought of them. (Now both London and Paris are emulating the Bogota example.)

The former mayor says that today’s cities need to be totally re-designed to cater for motorised transport.

In an interview with the online Citiscope magazine, he stated: “For 5,000 years we designed cities for people without cars. When cars appeared, we should have begun designing totally different cities. We did not. We just made bigger roads.”

Penalosa is also a great advocate of public parks and playing fields.

He notes that New York City created Central Park in 1860 when the city was much poorer than it is today, and that London, a heavily built-up city, has 1,500 public football fields that are open and free to all residents.

(In contrast, Nairobi county Senator Mike Sonko has suggested that Uhuru Park be turned into a matatu stage and land grabbers have attempted to steal playgrounds in Nairobi’s public schools.)

He also looks down on the new trend of shopping malls, which he says prevents city dwellers from walking in and enjoying their city.

Local neighbourhood shops disappear as the rich flock to enclosed malls.

City streets were once the great levellers where the rich interacted with the poor.

Not so any more. The shopping mall has created social apartheid between the urban rich and poor.

One of the pitfalls of devolution is that urban areas may suffer under a system where devolved funds are used to cater mostly for rural populations in the counties rather than the needs of urban dwellers.

While this is understandable, given the marginalisation of several regions under the previous centralised system, neglecting cities and towns may come to haunt us in the future.

Perhaps there is a need to create a national urban authority whose main aim would be to ensure that the country’s urban areas are managed, planned, and designed in a way that promotes equity, sustainability, and aesthetics.

Rescuing cities and towns would also mean rescuing the economy — urban-based economic activities generate more than half of Kenya’s GDP.

Which brings me to another question: why are the roads in Nairobi’s industrial area — the nerve centre of Kenya’s manufacturing and industrial activities — among the most dilapidated and pot-holed in the city?

BY: Rasnah Warah

Source: Nation:


Sh50,000 fine proposed for Nairobi residents who fail to use zebra crossing



Failing to observe traffic lights and zebra crossings will cost Nairobi residents a fine of up to Sh50, 000 if a proposed law at the county assembly is passed. The Bill titled Nairobi City County Public Nuisance Bill 2016 also places the same penalty on matatu touts soliciting for passengers on the streets.

The Bill seeks to tackle common nuisances, including noise and garbage dumping on the streets.

“Any person who, on any street fails to observe traffic lights or the zebra crossing or any other public directional signs, commits an offence,” the Bill sponsored by Viwandani MCA Samuel Nyangwara says.

 The Bill, if passed, would place a high premium on jumping lights by motorists who will risk being hauled to City Hall court. The proposed will also cover littering offences for banana skins and orange peels, among others.

 The proposal by-law also allows county officers to compel Nairobi residents to keep their premises free of “offensive and unwholesome matter.”  It, however, does not define what is considered unwholesome or offensive.

 The officer will serve a notice to the owner of the house or the person living in the premises to remove the material. Failure to comply will be considered an offence that could attract a fine of up to Sh50, 000.

“The objective of this Act is to provide for the control of public nuisances, including waste and disease-causing pests; and in order to ensure a clean and healthy environment,” the Bill reads.

Download the Bill below->

Source: Business daily->





Oversupply hurts rental income in city’s affluent areas


Rent in Nairobi’s affluent neighbourhoods dropped by about eight per cent on average in June compared to December last year, a periodic property report shows, citing increased supply amid slowdown in demand.

The residential rental prices were, however, flat compared to June last year, consultancy firm Knight Frank says in its Market Update report for the first half of the year.

“The decline was occasioned by increased supply, giving tenants choice and room to negotiate with landlords,” the report says. “The top-end market segment is dominated by expatriate tenants, who pay out of their accommodation allowances, or are housed under corporate arrangements.”

With demand for upmarket property slowing down, partly due to downsizing of operations by firms which were angling for a piece of the nascent oil industry, developers are moving into middle-income areas where the returns have been relatively stable.

Some of the major developments in the January to June period targeted at middle-income market included the 130-apartment complex by Bric Company in Spring Valley.

Agricultural and Industrial Holdings also broke ground for 560 two and three-bedroom complex at a cost of Sh3 billion.

Development of units for the low-income segment, the report says, has been left to the national and county governments.

Ministry of Housing’s Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme got approvals to develop residential flats in Kibra for Sh1.3 billion.

Source: The Star->


Mombasa residents seek closure of casinos in estates, near schools


Mombasa residents and a lobby group want the county government to crackdown on unlicensed gambling stations and casinos in residential areas and near schools. This is after reports emerged that some Chinese businessmen are operating gambling stations in Jomvu, Kisauni and Changamwe sub counties.

The residents and the Commission for Human Rights and Justice raised the alarm over the establishments where, they claimed, schoolchildren spend long hours gambling.

“We want the joints shut down or we will take the law into our hands. Our youth are losing focus by engaging in gambling,” said Commission for Human Rights and Justice executive director Julius Ogogoh.

Some traders, including Chinese nationals, run illegal betting joints in most parts of the county. Two weeks ago, the police arrested three people in Ganahola, Mikindani, after they lost their cash during a gambling game and got into a brawl with the Chinese traders. However, Changamwe OCPD Stephen Chateka declined to confirm or deny the arrests when contacted.

According to the residents, cases of truancy have increased sharply due to schoolchildren opting to gamble at the various Chinese-owned outlets in the various estates in the county.

The issue reached the Mombasa County Assembly after Miritini ward representative Kibwana Swaleh pushed for legislation of a law to control the gambling businesses.

“We want licenses of the uncontrolled gambling within the villages by Chinese revoked, this matter is getting out of hand it is time we take the bull by the horn,” he said.

The Committee on Youth, Sports and Gender was given two weeks to investigate the matter.

During the recent public forum on Finance Bill 2016/2017 in Tononoka county officials were taken to task over the gambling businesses. County tourism official Simon Mbaru said the county government would decide what do with the gambling businesses.

“We don’t license them. They get licenses from the national government. However, as a county we will sit down and find a solution. Kajiado County government decided to shut down the businesses,” he said.

Source: Business daily-

Happiness is vital for sustainable, productive cities


What makes people happy is usually a topic that is as controversial as anyone’s opinion. While there are those who say cash is king, there are others who would never trade in their peace of mind for lofty material benefits. Anyway, while happiness is generally determined by one’s mental and emotional health, it is also influenced by some environmental factors.

Apparently, if you live in a large urban area like Nairobi or Mombasa, your happiness is bound to be influenced by the pace at which people walk, and the amount of open spaces in the vicinity.

Indeed, there is an emerging school of thought that says residents of well-planned cities are way happier and more productive than the inhabitants of cities with no meticulous planning.

According to Happy City, a Canadian organisation which makes the case for retrofitting cities for happiness, most urban infrastructure including streets, parks, shopping centres and housing estates can be designed to make people feel happier, behave better and be kinder.

Using evidence from psychology, neuroscience, public health and behavioural economics, Happy City observes that, for example, hospital patients who can see trees through their bedside windows heal faster than those who only see brick walls. The researchers also claim that commuters at rush hour suffer more anxiety than fighter pilots or riot police facing angry mobs, and that the friendliest front gardens are precisely 10.6 feet deep!

Let us take Nairobi County as a case study of for sustainable, purposeful city planning. For the last 20 years, the capital city has been expanding exponentially, but with no clear direction. Consequently, residents have now become accustomed to overcrowding, traffic snarl-ups, air and noise pollution, burst sewer pipes and crime.

Going by the arguments of Happy City, this explains reasons behind the ‘rudeness epidemic’ plaguing many Kenyans. You will agree with me that pathetic customer service has become a norm in many firms today, from small and me dium enterprises to blue chip bodies. Rudeness is also now rife in hospitality institutions like medical institutions and hotels where you expect nothing less than compassion and pampering, respectively.

Blame it on people’s state of mind at the time they get to work caused by waking up to dry water taps, power outages, burst sewer pipes and garbage in the estate, loud matatus, grid lock, street families et al. Basically, our cramped up cities have little fresh air; people want to get in and move out from the madness of it all as fast as possible.

The truth is that well organised towns with promenades, avenues, spacious walkways, wide spaces, parks, security and such social amenities have low crime and stress levels. Actually, that is the essence of gated communities, the current buzzword in real estate. It is also the reason why shopping malls are very popular. They are designed and built in a way that encourages loyalty from customers and businesses.

This is something that county governments, architects, developers and other institutions that have control over how cities grow need to adopt. There is no reason why the Eastlands part of Nairobi should not be restructured to give its residents more aesthetics where they live and work. Basically, happiness interventions include breaking up imposing superblocks, investing in quiet streets that are safe and friendly for pedestrians, and creating a village heart to which residents can walk and shop.

Why bother, you may ask. Well, according to Happier Cities, ‘happiness is good for the bottom line’. People who are socially connected are more resilient and more productive at work. Cities that encourage social interaction foster greater levels of creativity and trust, both of which correlate with growth of the GDP. Happiness and health is good for business.

By: Stephen ndegwa (Centre for Climate Change Awareness-www.