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Move over, matatus, here come the DMUs



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Anxiety has gripped the residents of Nairobi as the government prepares to roll out an ambitious public transport system aimed at bringing back order in the capital while improving the commuting experience.

The Commuter Rail Project, a collaboration of the Kenya Railways Service and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), which is planned for launch this week by President Uhuru Kenyatta, has been hailed as a game changer.

To get to town, commuters will have the option of using trains known as Diesel Mobile Units (DMUs) that can carry up to 300 passengers to the Nairobi railway station. They will then use the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) for the last mile into the central business district. A DMU is a multiple-unit train powered by on-board diesel engines whose locomotives are conjoined.

The project, which will use an initial 11 DMUs imported from Spain, is the first in a series that is expected to culminate in the creation of a railway city and five BRT corridors, which will allow seamless mass transport beginning June next year.

Chinese firm Stecol Corporation has already started mobilising its equipment in preparation to start construction of special lanes for the Thika Road BRT. Also known as Line Two, the corridor, which will be the first to be launched in August next year, will cost taxpayers Sh5.6 billion.

The Nairobi Expressway, which will run from Mlolongo all the way to the James Gichuru junction in Westlands and whose construction is ongoing, will also have special BRT lines. The government is still looking for funding for the remaining BRT lines on the plan.

Once all the projects under the plan are complete, Nairobi will have an integrated commuter system comprising a BRT, a monorail and an underground rail system. They will all converge at the Railway City, a multimodal, transit-oriented, urban development covering 200 acres around the current Nairobi Railway Station.

“The strategic location of the Nairobi Station positions it perfectly to be an iconic nerve centre for the Nairobi multimodal transport system with a new worldclass central station incorporating mixed-use commercial developments, hotels and intermodal facilities,” says Kenya Railways about the city. “The Nairobi Railway City will bring into play a fresh alternative with regard to office, commercial, residential space, thus reducing pressure on general prices of such premises within the CBD.”

The NMS and Kenya Railways have been posting teasers on their social media pages the whole week on what Nairobians should expect ahead of the launch.

“Efficient, affordable worldclass transport options on the way. Park and ride the train. Forget traffic during rush hour,” NMS said in one of its tweets meant to publicise the new service.

“Rome was not built in a day. The important thing is we have taken a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go. A lot more resources will be required to get to optimal services, the first step is the hardest but we have to take it,” tweeted Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga.

The DMU train schedules are yet to be released but it is expected they will serve the current four railway routes: Kikuyu, Ruiru, Embakasi and Syokimau. The new trains will run on a higher frequency and will serve more stations than the current ones, which only operate in the morning and evening.

What is causing anxiety, however, is a plan by the NMS to ban all matatus from accessing the CBD to give way for the launch of a decongestion plan by President Kenyatta later in the month.

NMS Director General Mohammed Badi in September said that matatus will not be allowed to enter the CBD beginning November. The only public service vehicles that will be allowed into the CBD are BRT buses operated by Kenya Railways, which will pick up passengers from dropoff points at the entrances to the city, where matatus will drop people.

Final touches

The final touches are currently being done for a bus stop at the Lunar Park, where commuters from Mombasa, Lang’ata and Ngong roads will be dropped.

Those coming from Thika Road will be dropped off at Globe Cinema while those coming from Waiyaki Way will alight along Desai Road.

Commuters from Eastlands will be dropped off at Muthurwa while those coming from upcountry destinations will head for the Machakos “Airport”.

In preparation for the new transport system, the NMS has renovated old bus stops and created new ones.

While it looks like an excellent plan on paper and a new cap on the list of achievements for the Badi-led NMS, getting matatus out of the CBD will be the Major-General’s biggest test yet.

During an interview on Citizen TV on Wednesday, Maj-Gen Badi insisted that his plan to decongest the city is still on course as promised.

“The plan is for all PSVs, including bodabodas. We will have six termini for all PSVs, where they will be coming and returning to their routes without entering the CBD,” he said.

Full throughout

“We will have trains from all the directions of Nairobi. We have already started with the Embakasi one and it is full throughout, from 5am. From there, we will have BRT buses that will drop passengers to the CBD or to the bus termini if they are to continue with their journeys from Nairobi,” he said.

According to the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata), 48 per cent of the city residents use matatus to get to work and their places of business every day. Those who walk to work comprise 47 per cent of the city’ residents while a paltry 5 per cent drive or cycle.

It is estimated that there are 25,000 PSVs currently in operation across Nairobi. This, according to Namata, contributes 80 per cent of the capital’s traffic, with 16,000 matatus accessing the CBD every day.

Despite the introduction of saccos, all matatus operate on a free market, with little control and their sheer numbers create congestion in the CBD.

Similar plans to get rid of them in the past have failed.

It is President Kenyatta as Minister for Local Government in 2008 who made the first attempt to ban matatus them from the CBD. Former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero and current city chief Mike Sonko too have tried and failed.

The last such attempt in January last year created a transport crisis in the city, as matatus ganged up and closed all entrances and exits out of the CBD.

The result was a traffic snarlup that lasted an entire day, forcing Governor Sonko to reverse the ban.

Like they have done in the previous attempts to force them out of the CBD, matatu operators have dared Maj-Gen Badi to make good his threat.

“We are ready to help decongest the city, but you cannot do it without involving us as stakeholders,” said Matatu Owners Association chairperson Simon Kimutai.


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Enough is Enough: Kenyan man in US relocates to motherland to become a farmer



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In a bold move and which took great courage, a former Kenyan Diaspora man Kunga Kihokia who was born and raised in Miami Florida has moved back to Kenya, bought a 20 acres piece of land and established an organic farm in Murang’a.

Initially, Kunga had planned to be in Kenya for three weeks 5 years ago but after what he says was the realization of the problems affecting Kenyans because of western lifestyle which he himself was struggling with, he felt strongly to start an organic farm to address those problems.

Kunga has built a water tower to use gravity that allows the water to get pumped and distributed  through  irrigation into the field. Everything in the farm is powered by solar energy and he has dug a borehole that supplies enough water for the farm. Watch the video, be inspired  and enjoy.


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Carpenter hopes payday in sight in 27-year fight over presidential seats



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For the past 27 years, Solomon Njoroge Kiore has battled with the government over a debt that was initially Sh195 million but has now ballooned to more than Sh500 million in an unpaid bill for presidential furniture he delivered.

Tomorrow (Monday), Mr Kiore will go to the High Court in Milimani hoping that the end is in sight as he is supposed to get a hearing date for a case that has had many twists and turns.

In 1992, Mr Kiore, the proprietor of Furncon, a furniture company, won a government tender to supply presidential furniture but down the line, the deal went sour when the military officials returned the chairs a year after President Daniel arap Moi had used them — allegedly without payment.

The chairs had been acquired through the Ministry of Defence and approved by State House, according to court documents.

The government has denied failing to make the payment and he went to court to seek redress in 2007.

Although Mr Moi used the chairs for a year, Furncon says the military returned them to his workshop.

With the matter dragging through the courts for years, in February 2018, a decision was reached to settle out of court.

But the parties could not agree on the amount to be paid, with the businessman citing lack of goodwill on the side of the state.

Sh527 million

That year, Mr Kiore was seeking Sh527 million, being the price, court costs and storage charges.

He told the court he did not receive any invitation to negotiate a settlement.

Then last year, Symon Yator Cheberek, a military colonel, took over the case after Attorney General Kihara Kariuki appointed him to represent the state in all civil matters in which the Ministry of Defence is a party.

High Court judge Joseph Sergon allowed Col Cheberek to act for the state, but Mr Kiore objected this saying allowing a military officer to take up the matter was tantamount to court-martialling him.

“There can never be a situation where a civilian can be in court one on one with a distinctive disciplined and uniformed force,” he stated in an affidavit on March 25, 2019.

Col Cheberek said he is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Attorney General was in order to appoint him.

Mr Kiore wants Justice Sergon to recuse himself from hearing the matter, alleging bias and citing a 2017 ruling by Justice Philip Mwongo barring the military from taking over the case.

Justice Sergon has declined the recusal plea, saying the claims of bias could not be proved.

 Now, Mr Kiore says his business has died, as he can no longer use the premises where he has kept the chair as it is an instrument of power.

“It was used by a President for a year. It is treasured and therefore no one is supposed to touch it. My business has suffered immensely because of this seat,” he says in his court documents.

In a letter dated May 10, 2001, the Attorney General informed Mr Kiore that the Department of Defence had extended a without-prejudice offer purely out of honour and respect for presidential instruments.

“However, having realised that your claims include other items worth millions of shillings reflective of your other financial issues not related to the chair in question, it has not been possible to formally make the offer to you,” states the letter signed by V Onyango, a deputy litigation officer at the State Law Office.

Admission of liability

The offer, the officer states, is not the government’s admission of liability, because “the said chairs were ordered by the Agricultural Society of Kenya”.

The September 1992 deal was not the first. Mr Kiore’s company had sold furniture for VIP use in State functions to the government before.

He says the seat was made under strict supervision of the military and State House staff.

The firm says it was asked to make more furniture for presidential lounges at the Eldoret Moi Airbase and Kahawa Garrison and deliver the chairs to the Agricultural Society of Kenya offices in Nairobi for a three-day presidential function.

But the President ordered that the furniture remain at the ASK offices, according to a letter by the ASK dated August 5, 1999.

Now, Furncon wants a declaration that the ownership of the items was passed on to the government in September 1992, under the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act and as such they are instruments of power.

by nation africa

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Go Green na Optiven



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It is the responsibility of everyone to tender and care for the planet for better and healthier future generations.


We call upon you to join any of these categories:


1. Those who are more environmentally friendly


2. Those who are ecologically responsible in both their decision making and lifestyles


3. Those who protect environment


4. Those who protect and sustain the natural resources in their area of business


5. Those who help to conserve resources like water, air and vegetation


6. Those who produce eco-friendly products, thus preventing pollution of our air, water and land


7. Those who can prove that they have been using Green Energy/clean energy such as solar power or if using conventional energy; they are using eco-friendly bulbs and that save energy.


How can each play a role this is a highlight of just but a few but you can  put your   role that  you are doing  to promote the  green agenda


1. Builders/Engineers/Architects/Interiors designers

i. Use of solar energy/ Use of solar panels

ii. Use of Energy saving bulbs, florescent tubes

iii. Use of organic paints, light friendly windows

iv. Use of Eco-friendly toilets

v. Harvesting of rain water from roof tops, use roofs that are Eco-friendly, ensure that water does not go to waste

vi. Proof of reduction of water bills as a result of going green

vii. Water recycling technologies like Bio digester

viii. Those whose provide green buildings, Eco-friendly homes


2. Farming, gardening, landscaping experts

i. Use of drip or sprinkler on not flooding water while gardening or farming

ii. Use of organic pesticides

iii. Use of organic manure

iv. Those who increase forests cover


3. Health businesses, Schools, Hospitals

i. Those providing natural skin care products & not petroleum or synthetic ingredients on the products

ii. Those offering advice on going green, creating awareness of going green

iii. Those who teach children on being a friend of the earth

iv. Those who buy from ethical farmers who are known to produce organic products


4. Transport industry, drivers, delivery companies and logistics firms/organizations

i. Those who reduce carbon emissions directly or indirectly

ii. Any Awareness of climate change

iii. Any knowledge of carbon emissions and how to reduce?


5. Property Owners within Optiven Projects

i. Planting of trees in their plots

ii. Adoption of water recycling technology

iii. Establishment of Green Spaces

iv. Proper waste disposal


6. SMEs

i. Those who recycle waste

ii. Those manufacturing from the recycled materials

iii. Those who take proper care of electronic wastes

iv. Tech companies that have a green policy on disposal of electric waste

v. SMEs that can prove awareness of global warming


7. Families

i. Those who adopt any of the going green initiative say family tree planting, planting a tree during birthday instead of having a birthday cake or doing both

ii. With children who are aware of climate change and also alive to ways of preventing in preventing it

iii. Families that are involved in separation of different form of waste and or engaged in any form of recycling


8. Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, entertainment joins

i. Provision of organic food to customers

ii. Support of local farmers who do organic farming

iii. Awareness of climate change and its risks to humanity


9. Decision makers- checking the green component in your venture

i. Any policy decisions on going green

ii. Awareness on global warming

iii. Any knowledge of implementation of United Nations Development Goals


10. Children: If you are a child who is school going or otherwise and you have started being sensitive to the planet by doing conservation activities


11. Others: If you  believe that you are a friend of the planet, let us know




#GoingGreen=Healthy Families


George Wachiuri


Optiven Foundation

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2020 Calendar

November 2020