I know we rarely think of how important public spaces are. Let me tell a short story. During my campus years in CBD, I would find myself searching for a chill spot. On good days (cash-wise), I would carry my laptop to coffee shops.
On broke days my friend and I would walk from Ngarato City Park. Our journey would pass through Pangani then cross the cemetery then boom City park!!! We would play Badminton and take silly photos of monkeys.
I still remember my classmates and I going to central park in CBD and Arboretum after class. These are places where we could be free places we could play and run around. Places with trees and animals.
I am sure most have witnessed how these parks are lively on weekends. Forget the parks for a moment! Along the Thika Super Highway just outside the TRM Mall, the open space there was beautified and now is a relaxing zone. Just like the spaces along the Outering road near Donholm.On Sundays, you can see young people socializing on these grounds.
These public spaces have provided the best yet underrated opportunities. I have met many who use them as gyms, team building areas, playground for young ones. Likewise, major events have also been hosted in these spaces too i.e Koroga festive in Arboretum park.
These spaces are however safe during the day. African cities have a challenge when it comes to the safety of their public spaces. These now pulls together other spaces like bus stops markets, playgrounds etc.
The creation and maintenance of a safe public space build a very strong social cohesion. I mean they are areas we socialize and meet new people. You would also be surprised by the value addition it has on the property. My friend the other day was joking about how “the more people jogging in the morning the higher the rent in the estate”.This is to say, these jogging tracks are safe and the property value rises with security. The story for high rents is for another day…
Proper management of these spaces makes the city beautiful. For instance,it’s amazing how the Outering open spaces look like. In addition, this is a major entryway from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Open Spaces promote a healthy society, gyms are not cheap and we all need safes spaces we can jog at 5 AM.
The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals Highlight Public Spaces as a key and important topic. Goal 11 Target 7 aims to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
It is important to promote accessible public spaces for all. Most ordinary citizens can’t afford high end malls and weekend escapes to the quiet Mara but surely deserve a clean, accessible and safe space to bond with their loved ones.
See you at the park!!!!