Mr. Fredrick Obwana works with Nairobi City County as the head of Security at City Park. He recalls 2007 as the most challenging year when there were many incidences of mugging. There was a tremendous decrease in crime, however, once the Police Post was placed in the Park in 2015. The OCS, OCPD, and other officers usually take regular walks around the Park to check on security. Mr. Frederick has been the head of Security for over 8 years. He usually depends on youth who work in the Park as photographers and vendors for support, whenever a security problem arises. There is about 25 youth.
Last year was uniquely different because of the Covid-19 restrictions. These restrictions had seen a decline in people visiting the Park. Another reason why last year was different was that the management of the Park was taken over by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). Mr. Fredrick suggests that the 25 youths he has been working with be given first priority when KFS begins selecting scouts. KFS usually works with scouts in the protection and rehabilitation of the areas they manage.
Conversation with one of the KFS security personnel at the Park revealed that the main security challenge is the lack of a fence. A fence, says the ranger will limit the number of entry and exit points that are currently being used by the lawbreakers. There are two units that patrol the entire park; one-unit patrols during the day and another during the night. Reinforcements of rangers usually come from Karura during holidays and other days when visitors are expected to be many.
Friends of City Park (FoCP) is seeking to have discussions with the task force in charge of developing a comprehensive plan for the restoration of City Park. A few of our recommendations include:
- Clear understandable signages to be put up that will help enhance a feeling of safety. This will allow people to familiarize themselves with the different areas of the Park.
- Involving actual Park users in the development of the comprehensive plan. Users become an integral part of the solution when they are involved in identifying safety concerns.
- The surrounding communities need to be included in the planning. The community knows its major challenges and how to overcome them, among these is how to utilize the Park as a source of employment for the youth.
FoCP encourages all visitors going to the Park to not go alone; preferably in groups of more than three. As FoCP we usually offer a variety of tours and events. We believe that these actions encourage more widespread use of the park and increases positive use. Becoming a member will greatly support FoCP in increasing the frequency of our tours and events.
By Karimi Kimathi