Implication of Contestation for Urban Space on Streets: a Case of Mwihoko Street, Githurai - Kiambu County
Urban streets are places that play a pivotal role of making urban life more enjoyable and lively. When not well planned, they become dysfunctional. Mwihoko Street has become an attractive place for all kinds of traffic that is viewed as a potential market by those in the informal sector. This has led to an influx of informal activities onto the streets, and in so doing, have affected the smooth functioning of the street. The main aim of the research was to assess the implications of urban street space use contestation by informal activities. While the subsidiary aim of the research was to propose better planning approaches that can mitigate/mediate the space contestation. The study was guided by a number of objectives, and it employed a non-experimental research method carried out under phases: preliminary, data collection, data analysis & finally, conclusion and recommendation. The research established that the study area has attracted many informal activities that contest for space use, and include: encroachments from commercial buildings; street vendors; on street parking, and pedestrians, boda bodas, and motorists competing for space on the roadway. All these have led to: reduced street size, traffic jams, street users contest to use the carriageway, blocked storm drains and loss of business on the part of formal enterprises. The study proposes various intervention measures to be put in place. At policy level, the study proposes: the national government to formulate Flexible Change of User Laws that are not cumbersome, to enable private investors provide extra spaces for traders; street vendors should advocate for a progressive National Policy on Street Vending – what is in existence is not being felt on the ground (they should advocate for youth & women funds to target vendors); another recommendation is for street designers to adopt negotiated and collaborative approaches in street design – by incorporating street users while designing urban streets and also to embrace collaborative approaches whereby the design has to take a multidisciplinary design processes; and lastly, advocate the county governments to implement the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011 which requires the setting up of Town Management Committees for Urban Areas and Cities so as to bring services closer to people. At site level, the study proposes: the Preparation of an urban Development Plan for the town; upgrading Githurai to a service centre with the following components – a modern storey market, paving of back streets & back lanes, paving the roundabout, provision of proper drainage and street lighting; modernisation of the street to segregate users with provision of spaces for street vendors; and lastly, the study proposes the construction of two wide Non-motorized Flyovers to link Githurai 44 and Githurai 45.
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