BY CATHERINE KARONGO
For the two weeks I have stayed in Vienna, my admiration of the city has mounted by the day.
Vienna is the Capital of Austria and one of the country’s nine states. It has an exciting combination of the royal-imperial elegance of the past and the latest trends.
It also is the largest city in Austria and the old buildings occupying it make it one full of beauty. The security, transport system and the discipline shown by the residents here is simply amazing.
How else can you describe a city where no matter what time of the night or day you walk on the streets you are safe? And I don’t mean safe because of the presence of police like we believe in Kenya but safe because the security system works.
You will hardly see a cop on the streets but nonetheless you are safe. People here walk freely without having to turn their head every now and then.
The black spot areas are where the police have their patrols.
Buildings are not manned by security guards, because again, the security system works. Residents park their cars outside their apartments without fear that they may find the side mirrors or tyres gone.
The proper planning of the city, coupled with the thorough transport system makes it hard for a visitor to get lost.
This got me thinking that you can never get it wrong with a well established public transport system.
If only Kenya had such an elaborate transport system – the railways and buses – this would really ease the traffic especially in Nairobi.
What became of transforming our railway system? Don’t local authorities have an obligation to provide public transport? If public transport was run by the State, it would definitely be easy to regulate. Otherwise, we have been left to the mercy of cash-hungry matatu operators and the heartless Mungiki.
Why does the City Council increase parking fee every other time, yet we are not assured of getting any parking slots anyway? What we need is to improve the public transport system and many wouldn’t have a reason to use private means.
If only I could be assured that whether it rains or shines, I will just walk into a railway station or a bus stop and get home without having to pay exorbitant fares, then I will choose the public system.
If I am assured that within every five minutes I can catch a train or a bus to my place of work or home then undoubtedly, I will use the public system.
If only our transport system was that well established and disciplined, then I wouldn’t have to worry about getting stuck in endless traffic jams.
In my opinion, a city like Vienna and many others in the developed world have managed to keep traffic at bay by wisely choosing to invest in the public transport system.
What is also admirable here is that in the public transport system here, they trust that passengers will buy a ticket without being followed up by anyone. There are no CCTV cameras, no conductors, but people still pay.
The question is, would this really work in Kenya? Are we disciplined enough to pay for a ticket before boarding a train or buy one when we get into a bus knowing too well that no one is going to ask us for a receipt?
Your guess is as good as mine! This requires a lot of discipline and trust.
If only we would have this in our beloved Kenya.
Any hope that my dreams can turn real any time soon?
(Capital FM’s Catherine Karong’o is in Vienna, attending the International AIDS conference)