Curse of Pioneer Buildings & Zero Beautification Agenda

Voi City, Oops …, voi town, … despite its strategic location as an advantage, it could technically still be a double-century away from City status, subject to a lot of factors that definitely seem quite a long shot; The Population, Economic capacity, Amenities, General Outlook, etcetera.

Regardless, as a budding town, I believe there are a couple of items we the people, the municipality or the county in its entirety could strive and get right.

Even though Private Real Estate can pretty much morph at its own pace, it is important to note that these Private commercial buildings take center stage at any town or any city’s outlook.

From a far the town’s skyline, could look all rosy, from within, you will undoubtedly meet eye-sore structures that take you aback.

More Especially the Pioneer Buildings.

But wait...It will be fair enough to credit these pioneer buildings as the launch pads for the town’s growth and initiation of economic activity perhaps back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and maybe the 90s. However, many today still lay in dilapidated states, conversely ‘tarnishing’ the CBD.

Don’t get me wrong, most actually have valid reasons to stay as they are, to mention but a few, fading financial muscles by founders, some have private and sensitive reasons, some legally related, so on and so forth.

Notably, this has resulted into CBD buildings with unfinished floors, some with near-inhabitable conditions, some with stone-age roofing and for most, painfully paint-less.

An aerial view of a section of Voi CBD.

In some cases, the commercial tenants are compelled to repaint, have a couple of private touch-ups, with outdoor branding signages as an effort of a facelift. However, there is only much that one can do at a personal or business level.

From atop, it’s a rugged state, especially courtesy of the pioneer buildings

Probable benchmarks

In Mombasa, awhile back, the County government, perhaps in conjunction with the municipality, consciously opted to have the major CBD occupants paint the city blue and white. This was part of their city beautification Agenda.

While it may not have been 100percent effective, it was a notable facelift, to say the least for Mombasa City. Over the years we have equally been exposed to other beautification efforts either at a county level or at the municipal level.

The Mama Ngina waterfront in Msa, the Public Park in Malindi, and the Peoples Park in Machakos County are just to mention but a few, Kisumu County seemingly ousted Nakuru as Kenya’s cleanest city and their aspirations are now on a continental level.

A section of Kisumu City CBD. Photo: Courtesy

Kibarani Recreation Park Mombasa. Photo: Courtesy

Public Park Malindi. Photo: Courtesy

In some cases, even more impressively, some beautification agenda have been initiated and driven by the private sector. Kibarani, a dumpsite converted into a public hotspot by Business Owner Hasu Patel is a classic case in point.

The Nairobi Metro Transformation Agenda championed by NMS is of course unique and heavily invested In our country’s capital, But it is still a great benchmark as far as town and city beautification goals are concerned

Locally, looking at Voi’s sore card, the marker pen is yet to be lifted.

Beautification Agenda

A while back, in the inaugural county governments, Kidero Grass, was a thing. Whether the Mruttu government was inspired to emulate or not, they at least had a beautification project at the Caltex Junction, the entry point into Voi’s town’s central business district. It since vanished as soon as it came. Do we blame it on the weather?

Additionally, today, the  Voi-Mombasa-Nairobi highway junction, that would have otherwise been a polished entry point, has increasingly grown chaotic with a buzz of uncontrolled business activities, shanties sprouting amid the classic Fueling stations that were once attractive stop-overs.

2 County governments down the line, Residents are yet to spot any highlight beautification attempts by the municipality or the county government beyond the ‘ultra-modern’ markets, the often unstable cabrios, and tiny boda boda shades, mainly spearheaded by the local politicians as pet projects.

No public parks, No key recreation or information centers, sporting arenas, or comprehensive talent centers, …and even yet, our streets are unmarked and with no names.

voi by night. Photo:Eriq Forsky

Kudos to the cluster of upcoming buildings salvaging the state of our town, Commercial building owners’ conscious about at least a re-paint of their structures and the tenants keen on Quality outdoor signages as a facelift effort. Keep it up.


Voi town’s beautification project ought to be a collective affair pursued actively and progressively, by the people,  the county, the municipal, the private sector, visionary leaders and technocrats alike, otherwise, we remain a city by night and a slum by day.

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