NMS policy to end uproar over road renaming

Policy discourages renaming, unless there's duplication, or named person or group in disrepute

In Summary

• Many roads and streets in new developments are yet to be named. E-commerce deliveries need street names to deliver goods.

• Committee will consider names proposed online, present them with recommendations to the assembly for vote. 

Unknown individual setting fire on Francis Atwoli Road signpost.
Unknown individual setting fire on Francis Atwoli Road signpost.

When Dik Dik Road in Kileleshwa estate was renamed Francis Atwoli Road, vandals opposed to the outspoken unionist tore it down and set fires.

In late May, the road named after a tiny antelope was pulled down, put back up, burnt and set up again to honour Atwoli. It was torn down five times. Tyres were placed around the post and set ablaze.

The sign was erected in a ceremony involving acting Governor Ann Kananu.

The Nairobi county assembly had never passed a motion to approve the name change. A notice of motion was tabledon the day before a new sign was put up.

The uproar meant the Nairobi Metropolitan Services decided to develop a policy for naming and renaming streets and roads in the capital.

Nairobi has no policy on naming streets, roads or buildings.

The Nairobi City County Property Addressing and Street Naming Policy (Pasnap) aims for a transparent and predictable procedure for naming and renaming.

It aims to improve ease of doing business and movement particularly e-commerce growth and development. Pasnap will create a culture of identifying streets and buildings, NMS director general Mohammed Badi said.

Nairobi lacks a framework for harmoniously addressing property and street names, especially because e-commerce deliveries require street names.

Some roads and streets, including those in new estates and subdivisions, are unnamed.

The policy now before the assemblydiscourages renaming, saying it should only be a last resort and only in two specific conditions.

First, if there is duplication. Then the first name remains, the second is changed.

Second, if the name is offensive or names a person, group, company or institution that has fallen into disrepute or breached Constitution Chapter Six on integrity

In formulating the policy, NMS in June consulted ministries and agencies, professional bodies, resident associations and the public.

In July, Badi and his team met assembly leaders, executive members and the sectoral committee on planning and housing.


To implement the policy, a County Addressing Unit shall be formed. Members from the county and national governments will be appointed by the county executive for planning and urban housing.

The unit will consider proposed name changes and involve those affected.

These would involving naming of streets and roads in new developments before names are assigned.

It will approve and allocate new names complying with policy and maintain a register of street and building names.

The first appointment shall be made 30 days from when the policy is adopted.

Unit members will include two physical planners; one shall be appointed chair. There will be two surveyors with GIS experience, one of whom will be secretary.

It will include two registered engineers, a legal officer, an ICT officer and a member appointed by the Director of Surveys according to the Survey Act, 2012.

Members will serve for two, three-year terms. Members can be terminated and replaced at any time for justifiable reason.s

A quorum will be at least 75 per cent of the members. Thirty per cent gender mainstreaming will be mandated.

The unit will report annually to the county assembly.nit


In the past, renaming is done when an MCA gave notice of motion. It was then debated approved and the executive  replaced the old sign with a new one.

Now, however, the policy will require an online application in a prescribed form and will be subject to assembly approval.

 The County Addressing Unit will consider it and forward an invoice if it is approved.

“The proposed name must meet policy guidelines; if it does not, the applicant will be informed and allowed to resubmit a name in 14 days.

A report with recommendations will be forwarded to the assembly.

“Upon approval by the assembly, the county shall update the map and instal a new street nameplate within 30 days,” the plan reads.

Names must not be longer than 22 characters, including spacing. Anything vulgar will be rejected.

Duplication of names is prohibited. Geographical names shall be sourced from the name bank at the Director of Surveys.

Six months after the policy is approved by MCAs, the county is to implement county spatial data to be used by the addressing unit. The CEC for planning will be the custodian of the database for building names, street names and property addresses.


Previously known as Duke Street, after independence it was renamed after a member of the Kenya African Democratic Union (Kadu), Ronald Ngala. He died in a road accident in 1970.

Muindi Mbingu was renamed after the Ukambani freedom fighter who held a protest from Ukambani to Nairobi. It was formerly known as Stewart Street.

Kimathi Street was originally known as Harding Street, but was renamed to honour the Mau Mau freedom fighter.

Before it was renamed after founding President Jomo Kenyatta's wife and first lady, Mama Ngina Street was known as Queen's Way.

Moi Avenue was known as Fire Station Road between 1899 and 1901 but in 1901 it was renamed Government Road.

Later it was renamed after President Daniel Moi.

After the assassination of the Tom Mboya in 1969, Victoria Street was named after the democracy fighter.

Sixty Avenue was renamed Lord Delamere Avenue in 1932 following his death.

However, Delamere's family asked the government to remove it after relocating to Naivasha.

The street was later renamed Kenyatta Avenue after first President Jomo Kenyatta.

Biashara Street was formerly known as Bazaar Street, the Indian word for business.

The street was mostly occupied by Indian wholesalers.

(Edited by V. Graham)