After many moons of waiting, and loss of needless lives on Mombasa Road, footbridges at Bellevue and General Motors are finally coming up.
What piqued my interest about this triumph of ingenuity that is set to benefit thousands of people, is the announcement by a government official that the two footbridges under construction will cost Sh350 million. I was taken aback as this sounded exorbitant for just two footbridges considering a number of them built on Thika Super Highway cost a paltry Sh80 million.
Now that I have thought about it, I must say my reasoning was wrong – the footbridges put up on Thika Super Highway are not sophisticated but those coming up on Mombasa Road are state-of-the-art technology. They will probably have extra features that will bowl me over so much that it will be the same as an Arsenal die hard fan supporting Danny Welbeck who once played for their mortal enemy Manchester United.
One of these additions will, hopefully, be washrooms in and around the footbridge. This is because one of the reasons Nairobians give for not using footbridges is that they have become public toilets for some people.
Besides the stench, the unsightly human droppings are an eyesore to classy Nairobians, who consider the foul smell riskier than dashing across a major highway where vehicles are driven at 150km per hour.
With the washrooms available, hopefully, that lame excuse will not be enough reason to not use the footbridges. The additional features, therefore, justifies their high cost of construction.
Another reason given by pedestrians who blatantly refuse to use the footbridges is that they are not safe as they harbour criminals who waylay passersby and rob them. In extreme cases thugs may wring a pedestrian's neck if he or she does not surrender his or her belongings to them.
For this reason, the footbridges need to have a police post beneath. The downside with this idea is that the police service is understaffed, and its few officers are overwhelmed chasing after hardcore criminals. Therefore, having the officers sit in a police post under a footbridge wouldn't be the best use of our country's resources.
However, there is an alternative. Our President recently announced with great gusto that there are CCTV cameras installed around the city to boost security. At this rate, I see 'crime-busting' cameras, which would have to be very expensive, being installed to follow criminals around.
Mombasa Road is notorious for mind-numbing traffic, so the footbridges will go a long way in minimising the traffic menace. It will be a relief to the motorists if the footbridges come with a petrol pump for those who get stuck in traffic for hours resulting in their fuel running out. Establishing a Java on the footbridge (which makes sense as Java is in all strategic locations) where one can buy coffee and pass time as he or she waits for the traffic to die out would be a good idea. No need to worry about being robbed as the coffee shop will be put under surveillance by the cameras as you enjoy your iced tea. Better still, the footbridges may have massage parlours for those who whose feet may need a bit of pampering after sitting in the traffic jam for long.
Beside the footbridge there may be some entertainment joints for those who may not find Java exciting. They will have four different screens carrying different messages for various age groups. One screen will air content for under 10, which may include Ben 10, Hannah Montana and Naruto.
The second screen will cater for teens and will play rap music and videos like Niki Minaj's Anaconda. The third screen will be for young adults and have series like Suits, Scandal and Homeland. The fourth one may serve older adults already panicking about their advanced age, and in search of farming tips, lowest mortgages, sex-enhancing drugs and cosmetic surgery.
With the areas in and around the footbridges buzzing with activities, expect to see banks, restaurants and other kinds of businesses opening up to serve footbridges' users. Once all this is realised, you will probably understand why a whopping Sh350 million was spent on two footbridges. May be these are the kinds of investment that will make Kenya a first world country.
Venue review: The Tavern @ Kenol, Embu
Kenyan journalists don't file all their stories in Nairobi. Last weekend I was in Embu town for some assignment, and I decided to check out a place I have been hearing about for years – The Tavern @ Kenol.
I went to the joint on a Sunday afternoon with my partner. I first noticed the place is not friendly for wheel chair users. I checked the washrooms, which are to the left of the entrance, and I found they are clean and decent with toilet paper rolls.
The bar counter is manned by a friendly barman. What was interesting, however, were photos of the joint's previous patrons, who have worked for at least six years, hanging on the walls.
They bore the slogan – Meet The Locals. But there is a precondition - the former patrons must drink at the pub, and failing to show up for a year would result in one's photo being pulled down! This is an ingenious way to keep your clientele, I believe.
I settled on the right side of the pub as it had comfortable seats. I could watch activities on the road from there. I ordered my usual cold Tusker retailing at Sh160, which was reasonable, especially for a person from out of town.
As I enjoyed my drink, I looked around and noticed the pub has a decent décor. It also has posters of renowned music legends such as Bob Marley, Elvis Presley and Justin Beiber. There were a few TV screens for football fans. On this day, Tottenham Hotspurs were being 'terrorised' at their home ground in London by Liverpool FC.
There was an interesting mix of people. Most customers early that afternoon were enjoying a family outing but in the evening hype and young punters started streaming in. I suspect the booth – Ministry of Sound – in the pub plays cool music at night.
When you visit Embu I recommend you try the Tavern @ The Kobil.