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Nairobi has been chocking in garbage following the decision by refuse collectors to boycott work due to non-payment of dues.

To make matters worse, the protesting workers upturned garbage bins and spilled their smelly contents onto the city’s streets.

Matters are no different outside the CBD in the residential estates where garbage heaps have also been piling up. As if this is not enough, rivulets of sewage have been flowing openly in some of the estates, and no one at City Hall appears to care.

Sadly, a week since the boycott began, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and those who could help solve the problem -- the officers in charge of Finance and Environment departments -- have only been pointing fingers at each other over the mess.

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Since Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was charged with corruption and shooed out of office last December, things have gone from bad to worse.

Although the national government’s takeover of some functions of the county administration has provided a sliver of hope that the situation might change for the better, city residents have to wait until March 25 for the deal between Sonko and national government to take effect, and the latter to swing into action.

But even then, the national government will only handle the so-called four critical functions: Health, Transport, Public Works and Planning.

Notably, Environment, where garbage collection falls, is not among them.

What this means is that Nairobi could continue smelling like a cesspit even after the much-hyped takeover. This makes one wonder whether the takeover was well thought out. Exactly, what criteria was used to determine the ‘critical functions’?

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Truth is, no function of the county government is unimportant. All functions affect people’s lives in one way or the other.

That is why although the national government has taken over the Health function, a dysfunctional Environment ministry could complicate matters for hospitals by breeding all manner of diseases through uncollected garbage and untreated sewage, for instance.

For this reason, it is important for Nairobi residents to ask themselves whether the current arrangement is the best for them.

If the national government is certain it can deliver – never mind it has failed to live up to expectations in some of its national mandates – it should haggle further with Sonko so that it can take over all the county functions.

If that won’t happen, Nairobi MCAs should hasten their plans to dislodge Sonko so that city residents can elect a new governor to get things moving again.

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Nairobi CBD City Hall
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