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Ongata Rongai

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Ongata Rongai

Ongata Rongai
Ongata Rongai
Ongata Rongai
Location of Ongata Rongai

Coordinates: 1°24′S 36°46′E / 1.4°S 36.77°E / -1.4; 36.77Coordinates: 1°24′S 36°46′E / 1.4°S 36.77°E / -1.4; 36.77

Country Kenya
County Kajiado County
Population (2009)
 • City 190,000
 • Urban 147,000
 • Metro 50,000
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Ongata Rongai, also locally known as Rongai or simply Rongaa, is a settlement in Kenya's Rift Valley Province located between the Kaputiei plains and the Western slopes of the Ngong hills all within Kajiado District.[1] It is a fast developing residential urban aggregation in the outskirts of Nairobi with a population of 35,000 in the 1999 National Census but currently estimated between 66,042[2] and 147,000.[3] The city is situated 17 km south of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and lies at 1731 m (5682 ft) a.s.l.


Rongai began in the late 1950s in two locations. First as a cattle market in present day Ongata Rongai shopping centre (first stage) and as a stone mining township in present day Kware (quarry) and Gataka areas. The two centres then spread linearly towards each other. Since the early 1990s rapid development allowed them to join together into a high density urban aggregation making up what is now Ongata Rongai proper, covering around 16 square kilometres. However, greater Ongata Rongai is a medium-to-low density area and includes Kandisi, Rimpa, Nkoroi, Merisho, Olekasasi, Tuala and Maasai lodge areas, and covers a much larger area.


Rongai is a multi-class area which is however dominated by the middle-class. Although largely a metropolitan district of Nairobi it does not fall within the administrative boundaries of the city and is separated from Nairobi city proper by the Mbagathi river. It is itself divided into two administrative locations, Nkaimurunya and Rongai, which are separated by the Magadi road. Within Ongata Rongai there is the Kandisi river, a tributary of the Mbagathi river. Rongai's population is relatively quite affluent by all standards[not specific enough to verify] and in terms of purchasing power it surpasses many well to do suburbs of Nairobi such as Langata and Kasarani and is roughly at par with Buruburu. However it is expected to surpass Buruburu in a year or two given its extraordinary growth rate and its peri-urban nature which avails plenty of land for urban residential expansion, unlike Buruburu, which has reached what would be referred to as its urban residential maxima. This is clearly evident in the fact that, for example, it hosts Tusky's supermarket which is currently the most profitable one of the Tusky's supermarket chain in Kenya. Also, Rongai has better urban aesthetic appeal[peacock term] compared to most other peri-urban areas of Nairobi, especially those that fall within or are close to Kiambu county such as the Dagoretti area, Gachie, Banana, Kinoo and Githurai, which are equally high-potential areas but are victims of poor urban policy and endemic neglect. It has two major industrial ventures: Kitengela glass, an artefacts manufacturer tucked away in the far-flung Tuala township area, and Tam feeds, an agro-processing industry located in Gataka.

Infrastructure and local governance

Rongai is noticeable for its serious lack of infrastructure, lighting and social amenities compared to the population it holds. As a matter of fact, it is one of the few fast growing urban centres in the world without a municipal authority. Hence, its development faces serious planning challenges. Although an overall physical plan has been done{ and continues to be updated by the Ministry of Lands, it is quite difficult to implement it because of the lack of a viable local government. Various attempts have been made to improve the situation[by whom?], but they have largely failed. The first serious attempt at settling Rongai's infrastructural deficit was in the early nineties when the Chinese government advised that Rongai would grow to be one of the major metropolitan districts of Nairobi and even offered funds for infrastructural development. These funds were probably embezzled. The olkejuado county council has on two occasions advertised tenders for construction of roads,markets and bus parks but these have never materialised.Previously the victory construction company was assigned by the government to put up drainage along Magadi Road but they never completed the job and actually created a mess by leaving the open trenches uncemented. All these just goes to show how much Rongai is a victim of poor governance and corruption and unless the Kenyan urban leadership and thinking is changed things look very dim for Rongai. Mounds of garbage have become quite common and unplanned informal businesses are mushrooming at an alarming rate. Traffic jams in Rongai are quite sickening and are caused by lack of a road network such that only one bitumen standard road serves the entire population of Rongai. Furthermore, existing roads are too narrow to allow free flow of traffic and are also unpaved. There is also a lack of enforcement of urban by-laws. Donkeys, for example, should not be allowed since they cause unnecessary traffic snarl-ups,they eat away vegetation by the roadside and litter the place with feces which is a health hazard since it is through donkey feces that tetanus spreads. Furthermore donkeys are not allowed in other urban centres in Kenya why should Rongai be an exception?


Rongai's problems are largely caused by three factors corruption, political interference and neglect. Its mediocrity in terms of planning and service provision can be attributed to four factors. Firstly the local council in charge of the area, i.e., the Olkejuado County Council is to blame they are apparently lazy, corrupt and inefficient due to their lack of clear organisational structure and the fact that it is a largely rural council which was never constituted for urban management. They are toothless in matters relating to Rongai. Secondly, there is lack of political will from the local area MP and councillors to take responsibility and act on pressing issues and in many cases they are part of the problem since they perpetrate corruption and political interference, a good example is the roadside market in kware which is not only an eyesore but a health hazard which is there due to political reasons and cannot be done away with so long as the current leadership is in charge. Thirdly, the central government has clearly neglected Rongai. For example despite its ever growing urban population the area has never been granted even township status and it is quite unclear what Rongai is today. Going by its population it should be a fully-fledged municipality by now. The government has also consistently failed to commit public resources to Rongai. Lastly, the complacency of Rongai's population cannot escape blame; this is however due to the lack of unity common in areas with mixed populations like Rongai such that, while the rich and middle class populations would like to see a clean, well-organized Rongai, the poor would actually prefer a Rongai friendly to informal business which would eventually lead to disorder even with reasonable planning. This way citizens of Rongai do not speak with one voice. It is quite unfortunate that the same situation facing Rongai has been replicated in other satellite towns of Nairobi that fall within Kajiado county which are Kitengela, Ngong and Kiserian. However, new housing developments are changing the face of the area this are such as Osupuko Estate, Acacia Valley Estate and Selengei Villas. There also residents organisations such as the Nkoroi North Residents Association who are helping in planning of Rongai.


This area is home to a number of reputable[peacock term] institutions such as the Africa Nazarene University, Laiser-Hill school, Adventist University of Africa, and Maxwell Adventist Academy, which is on the property of the headquarters of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church for the East-Central African Division.

See also


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