Nairobi News


Why half of Nairobians walk to work

About five in every 10 (46 per cent) Nairobi residents walk to work because they cannot afford the fare and due to a disorganised public transport system.

A high level panel that held talks during the five-day UN Habitat Assembly, that is coming to a close on Friday in Gigiri, noted that the walking victims are mostly informal settlers and youth with no gainful employment.

Chaired by UN resident coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, the panel discussed how to eliminate such societal inequalities under the theme “Generation Unlimited: The Prosperity Potential of Cities and Regions of Young People” which is a global campaign for youth empowerment and employment.

Other panellists were Unicef deputy country representative Patrizia Di Giovanni, World Bank programme regional leader Paolo Belli, Mr Thomas Chiramba, a senior regional settlements officer at UN-Habitat and Mr Walter Mong’are—a deputy director for youth programmes at the Office of the President.

“Approximately 46 per cent of people in Nairobi walk because the existing matatus and boda boda are not always enough and also not always affordable for the low class citizens.

“We embrace the efforts to develop Bus Rapid Transport system so it can carry more people and in an affordable manner,” Mr Chiramba said.

Affordable public transport is one critical aspect that the UN-Habitat is keen to fix in the New Urban Agenda, apart from eradication of slums, affordable housing improvement, sustainable planning of towns with a focus on proper sanitation.


Mr Chattarjee said the urban transformation agenda would be incomplete if youth are left out.

“We have to look at urbanisation from an unorthodox way, whereby we transform the suburbs and the peripheries by generating employment opportunities, knowledge, equity and wherewithal so that people will not see the need to go to town to work.

“Let us embrace urbanisation that takes technologies and innovations to actual places where people live so that a young farmer in Eldoret has the same pride as a young doctor in Nairobi, without which we will have an overpopulation of the city,” the UN resident coordinator said.

The World Bank leader said they are creating support structures to help the UN deliver their activities to empower youth.

According to Ms Di Giovanni, a million of Kenya’s youthful population (65 per cent) enter the workforce annually, but only one in 10 find gainful employment.

“Youth are not homogeneous, and in varied ways, have been left behind, but with guidance can channel their innovative ideas to contribute to development of their respective cities, communities, and respective economies,” she said.

The average age for youth employment is delayed up 30 years due to limited openings.