No streets, buildings and places will be named after persons who do not meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution if MPs pass a new bill that seeks to create a national addressing system.
The National Addressing Bill, 2023, sponsored by Kiambu MP Machua Waithaka, stipulates that before naming a building or street after a person, a council, to be established, must ensure that the identified person meets Chapter Six of the Constitution.
"Where the proposed name is that of an individual, group or company, the Council shall ensure that the individual, group or company meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and has made a significant and demonstrable contribution to the country, and where the proposed name is that of a deceased person, the consent of the family has been obtained," the Bill reads.
Under the proposed legislation, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of ICT will have the final say on the naming of roads and buildings.
The Bill provides for the establishment and management of a comprehensive National Addressing System, which will assist in the development of uniform national addressing standards and promote better planning and delivery of essential services.
The National Addressing System will also enable government agencies to better collect, store, manage and share address information, and facilitate electronic commerce through the efficient delivery of goods and services.
"A National Addressing System will provide a single source of truth for all addresses in Kenya and promote digital business, digital government and in general the digital transformation of Kenya as envisaged in the Kenya Digital Economy Blueprint," said Mr Waithaka.
He said the address system is key to planning, revenue collection, e-commerce, e-trade, e-government, digital financial services, e-navigation and the modernisation of postal services.
Most businesses and households in Kenya have no address and are located on unnamed streets. The government has been trying to remedy this situation for years.
Under the Constitution, counties have a mandate for physical planning, which includes the numbering and naming of roads. Some of the devolved governments have already undertaken their own addressing projects, leading to inconsistencies across the country.
Street naming and house numbering remain problematic in Kenya due to poor planning, which hampers delivery services and emergency services such as ambulances and firefighters.
Unreliable location data is also seen as a major obstacle to the rapid deployment of emergency services, such as police trying to locate criminals and paramedics and firefighters rushing to save lives and property.
According to the Bill, there will be a National Addressing Council whose functions will include creating and managing a national addressing system that is logical, unambiguous, reliable, updatable, affordable, accessible, sustainable and accountable.
The Council will also promote technological advances in addressing, including digital mapping. In selecting names for public buildings and roads, the Council and the County Addressing Committee shall be guided by Article 10 of the Constitution and shall ensure that the names selected are inspirational names of places, people or events in Kenya.
The Bill states that in proposing an address for a place, the applicant must propose at least three names of a standard length, the proposed names should have a significant connection or value to the area, should not be offensive, misleading or confusing and should not be duplicative.
The person should also ensure that the proposed names are not difficult or awkward to pronounce and are not phonetically similar to existing names.
According to the Bill, people wishing to rename their residential areas must submit a petition to the council signed by at least 300 people living in the area.
However, "An addressable object shall only be renamed if there is a duplication of the name, the person, group or company after whom the addressable object is named is in breach of the requirements set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution," the Bill reads.
The Bill seeks to create a national address system that will serve as a reference point for all addressable objects in the country.