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CA wants ban on naming roads and streets after living persons

A defaced street sign in Nairobi. The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) wants naming of roads and streets after people who are still alive banned. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A defaced street sign in Nairobi. The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) wants naming of roads and streets after people who are still alive banned. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) is seeking a ban on naming of roads and streets after people who are still alive.

The CA also said on Tuesday that lack of a national framework to guide naming of streets and numbering of properties is affecting movement and business in counties.

The authority’s assistant director, Martin Ngesa, admitted that the absence of a national framework for naming streets and numbering of properties has affected e-commerce uptake.

He cautioned counties against naming streets after persons who are still alive, politicians or chiefs.

He said the confusion of having streets with similar names in different cities could be solved if its proposals for a universal National Addressing System (NAS) are adopted.

In Mombasa, there is a disparity in the naming and maintenance of street names with some signage being neglected to the point of rusting away.

Some names have long faded while others are not displayed in the conventional way.

“For example, streets such as Moi Avenue, Haile Selassie and Kenyatta Avenue among others can be found in both Mombasa and Nairobi.

This should not be the case. Repetition of road names has been a common thing in the past, but this does not comply with recognised standards because when there is a property on such a road, search engines confuse users,” Mr Ngesa told the Business Daily in an interview in Mombasa.

Streamline sector

The authority has formed a secretariat to streamline the sector and has already presented a draft policy to counties for review.

“Naming and numbering of streets guidelines haven't been developed elsewhere in the country to recognised international standards, except Nairobi to some extent.

"Under the draft proposals, names with similar pronunciations but different spelling shall be avoided. The draft seeks to make far reaching changes in the way streets are named,” he added.

Street names chosen should promote community image and drawn from local history, culture, traditions and landmarks, Mr Ngesa said.

The names, according to Mr Ngesa, could also include those of distinguished local leaders and elders.

“But there is a catch. The use of names of living persons, politicians and chiefs should be avoided.

"The proposal also caters for existing historical road names. They can be retained, but only if they comply with requirements. Street names should be easy to pronounce and should not be offensive,” he added.

He said there are certain names which should not be used due to customary demands.

County responsibility

Counties will be responsible for naming streets both in urban and rural areas under the County Address Unit.

The unit will vet proposals of names and then forward them to the County Assembly for approval.

“After this is done, street names and property addresses shall be geo-referenced to allow navigation,” he added.

Mr Ngesa said it is critical and important to develop a generic national addressing policy and standards for the national addressing system and signage.

Without an address, Mr Ngesa said, it can be difficult or confusing to locate properties.

Besides, he said, adresses with clear signage would help to locate people during emergency and rescue operations.

“The potential NAS will bestow to ecommerce growth is indeed immense. Innovative postal service such as Mpost that operates as virtual letter boxes will be propelled to new heights with a mobile phone number replacing need for a physical box that will deliver items to any identified points thanks to NAS,” he added.

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