Opinion and Analysis
How Karen came under pressure
Posted Sunday, July 22 2012 at 16:55
City Hall’s move to zone Karen for medium housing density has completely changed it. The calm and quiet at Karen shopping centre, which was once marked by a fuelling station, a bank, a post office and the police station, is long gone.
The increased population has totally redefined the landscape. Senior citizens who resided in the “original and exclusive” Karen must be wondering what came of their estate and centre.
But they should have seen it coming when the population of Dagoretti, Lang’ata and Ngong exploded. Karen had to change with time.
In old leafy Karen, subdivisions were disallowed. This changed when, under pressure, the City Council of Nairobi allowed density to drop from a minimum of five acres to one acre, even half, in some parts.
Subsequently, the Karen area along Lang’ata Road saw rapid subdivisions into half and one acre parcels. Developments followed.
The Galleria, a popular mega shopping mall along Lang’ata Road, now loudly invites us to Karen. The massive NP Church Karen and the Catholic University on the opposite side added activity to this once silent zone.
The Kenya School of Law on Lang’ata South Road and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Karen Campus on Bogani Road added to the population. Karen Hospital came up soon after.
Currently, The Park, a big complex with offices for sale, is coming up opposite Karen Hospital and just before Ndege Road. If higher density residential and commercial developments between Lang’ata and Bogani Roads continue at the current pace, this part of Karen will too lose its original residential shine.
Karen Road, which connects Ngong and Lang’ata roads, has also seen unprecedented developments lately. This is where the proposed official Vice President’s residence, for years under construction, stands.
This section is now home to new commercial developments like Karen Auto Mart and Bush Rover. The posh looking “Karen Triangle Mall” and “The Stables” have recently come up opposite the VP’s future residence. Commercial complexes “Darosa Plaza” and “Karen Plains Arcade” lie further ahead.
Little wonder Karen Centre has had to expand. These big numbers had to find expression. That’s why one finds “nyama choma” outlet’s like “Friends Village” and disco club “Reminisce” next to Karen Centre.
Here, citizens can walk in and place orders for “Nyama Choma” without feeling out of place. They can then walk to “Reminisce” next door for a dance. But old “Rusty Nail” still beckons across on Dagoretti Road .
Nakumatt today stands dominant over Karen Centre. But a bigger high rise commercial block, Karen Square, is coming up next to the roundabout.
Karen Office Park, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant and new residential estates evidently eclipse old Karen as one drives along Lang’ata Road.
Karen Centre today experiences mild traffic jams. Yes it does as “matatu’s” strategically position to drop and pick those getting into or out of Nakumatt.