Awards 2001 The P&O Nedlloyd Award for Infrastructure

The P&O Nedlloyd Award for Infrastructure

This award is given to a company or organisation which has assisted economic and social development through the provision of appropriate, sustainable and environmentally complementary transport systems or infrastructure.

Runner-up: Nairobi Central Business District Association

Gunmen enter a Nairobi shop and shoot down the owner. A middle-aged man is stabbed as he leaves a nightspot, his assailants stealing his money and even his shoes. Kirinyaga and Grogan Roads, congested with people, buildings, buses and cheap lodging houses, are seen by Nairobians as specially dangerous. Over 200 armed carjackings take place in Nairobi every month. Crime has been compounded by neglect of streets and buildings.

In 1997, Central Nairobi business people decided to do something about all this. They did not want Nairobi to become like Johannesburg. They set up the Nairobi Central Business District Association. Security of life, limb and possessions is the most basic form of infrastructure, if less tangible than roads, bridges and power lines.

To bring police officers into closer contact with the community, the association persuaded the police to set up ten information posts open to members of the public . The police, who previously did little to explain themselves, also appointed an assistant commissioner to respond to public concerns.

In the year 2000, with money from the Ford Foundation, NCBDA embarked on a policing and community safety project. This included a crime survey, a series of meetings of community leaders, and a programme of training in community policing, which enlisted the help of officers from Britain. The project roused media interest, making security a major preoccupation of the government and of Nairobi people.

Following up the project, NCBDA is now working with youth organisations and slum organisations. It is promoting community-policing forums round the city, and a Kenyan Friends of Police chapter as a bridge between police and public. It is establishing a fund which, among other tasks, will finance recreation for young people and improve the living and working conditions of police officers.

NCBDA is also concerning itself with the appearance of the central district. It repaired or replaced footpaths, kerbs and lighting standards in Kimathi, Mama Ngina and Tom Mboya Streets. It is now engaged with the Standard Chartered Bank, the Stanley Hotel and Pan Africa Insurance in its first city improvement district, in Kimathi and other streets off Kenyatta Avenue. The idea is that property owners agree to pay a levy over and above their taxes and to spend this on street cleaning, security guards and improvements.

NCBDA is keen to get people including the young and the poor interested in local government. It is promoting a residents charter which will address the disparity between rich Nairobi and poor Nairobi. It is planning workshops for councillors elected in the 2002 elections.

Philip Kisia, a 38-year-old director of a hotel company, under whose chairmanship NCBDA has doubled its membership, comments: "NCBDA has been able to get Nairobians to talk to each other and not at each other - politicians, the police, business people, the haves and the have-nots. We have deployed a vision, agreed on priorities, laid the foundation for public-private partnerships and built bridges across economic, social and political divides. A bright future for Nairobi is now assured."

The Judges say

The requirements for sound business investment include political stability, good governance, proper security, reliable transport systems, and a healthy and clean working environment. This project reaches out to these needs, and is an enterprising and imaginative example of a successful infrastructure project. By tackling such a challenging task, NCBDA has shown that the failures of public services can be reversed through cross-sectoral partnership and community involvement. The practical measures to improve security, traffic management and environment deserve vigorous encouragement. NCBDA's policy of creating strategic partnerships between government, civil society and business has created a sustainable process. Although early days, there are real signs that organisation's goal of stalling the process of urban decay is being realised, and that the Central Business District of Nairobi will become safer, more attractive, and more conducive to business, thereby providing the impetus for more rapid economic growth.

NCBDA, PO Box 10687, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 2 219412
Fax: +254 2 340296