The season of political contests has started and with it comes some not so pleasant side effects. Politicians are canvassing for votes and trying to outsell each other, courting Kenyan voters for the all important tick at the ballot box come March 4th. The number of positions in the ballot has soared to six with the addition of Senator, Governor, County Representative and Woman Representative.
Political parties have taken to popularizing their candidates at a scale not seen before. The country is now awash with large bill boards in the towns and cities and major highways, touting the candidates and their qualities as your potential leader. The next level is campaign posters which have sprung up literally "overnight". Every available surface at shopping centers, kiosks walls in the estates is systematically being eaten up by campaign posters.
Sadly even important road safety warning signs have not been spared by this army of "poster bandits" who stick them up mostly in the dead of the night. Sign boards installed and paid for by businesses and institutions to municipal councils are suffering this deluge, much to the chagrin of the owners.
Needless to say, the candidates must position themselves to their voters, but questions should be raised about the collateral damage to the image and cleanliness of our towns and cities. Clean buildings, clean streets and well maintained environment is a reflection of the society's value system.
There is urgent need to address the issue of not only campaign posters but for so many others that range from advertising "one- man- guitar" performances to witch doctors that can cure all diseases. The brand new international standard Thika Highway suffered the onslaught, even before the concrete had cured on the over-passes and interchanges.
The onus is therefore on the City council and other local government authorities to save Kenya's image from this littering. It is common for the Cities and Municipal Councils to issue notices to owners of buildings to re-paint them and keep them well maintained or risk prosecution for flouting by-laws. If this "poster bandit" menace is allowed to continue, the owners of buildings will keep bearing the cost of painting their premises for no fault of their own.
The Brand Kenya Board has been conducting a Towns and Cities branding programme across Kenya over the last two years. This initiative is aimed at bringing out the unique competitiveness of our towns and cities. This can then be harnessed to attract investors and tourists to the towns and direct more money from Kenya's capital and main cities to other parts of the Country.
Kenya is developing infrastructure as one of the key attractions for investors and tourists on the one hand and pushing for responsible use of the environment on the other.
This may be an opportune time for Kenya to think up some drastic measures to keep our towns clean and improve our image and reputation.
Musyoki Kivindyo is the Director of Communication at Brand Kenya Board