Governor Abdulswamad Nassir defends 100 days in office without cabinet, chief officers

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard] 

Mombasa governor Abdulswamad Nassir has defended himself over the delay to name his cabinet 100 days after he was sworn in office.

Nassir said he has embarked on plans to grow the local economy, revamp tourism, clear garbage, and cut back pending bills that have burdened the county government for more than a decade.

He also explained that he has been working closely with President William Ruto and the national government to push for his county’s development agenda such as the introduction of an open sky policy to attract more international flights to Mombasa to boost the tourism industry and the construction of low-cost houses.

He said this should not be construed to mean that he was planning to defect from ODM to Kenya Kwanza.

And the governor who seemed to be in a balancing act to address various interests explained that he was seeking to have a cabinet team with the capacity, zeal and lined up to his agenda to deliver to the electorate.

In an interview with media houses on his 100 days in office on Sunday night, Nassir denied that some powerful political forces could be behind his delay to name the cabinet team.

He has been operating with county executive committee members (CECs) and chief officers from the previous county administration under the governor Hassan Joho since he took over on September 15, last year.

“It is wrong to say that there are no CECs and chief officers in office just because those who are there were not appointed by my pen. They are in place and I have already held several meetings with them,” he said, referring to the Joho team he has been working with.

It appears Nassir may retain some of the Joho CECs and chief officers after he said he believed in continuity to ensure there is a smooth transition.

So far, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) which was tasked to interview candidates for CECs has shortlisted names for nomination by the governor but Nassir did not say when they will be appointed.

He said the County Public Service Board was carrying out interviews for chief officer nominees. In November last year, Nassir advertised for positions of 10 CECs and 16 chief officers.

“I have seen those shortlisted for CEC and I was impressed with their capacity and zeal to serve. The only thing I am looking for is whether they resonate with our agenda and the county-integrated development plan (CIDP),” he said.

At the same time, Nassir said he will stop the piling up of pending bills by ensuring that all new suppliers and contractors are paid within 90 days of completing their work.

“We are going to give out tenders when we have funds and pay within 90 days. These pending bills have a direct effect on the lives of our people,” he explained.

Mombasa county is grappling with more than Sh3.16 billion pending bills, as at 31st March 2022, incurred during the days of Mombasa municipality and the Joho administration.

The governor explained that in 100 days, he has established a 24-hour economy at the Kongowea wholesale and retail market and fixed streets lights in several areas of the county.

To increase the county revenue streams, Nassir said his administration has pushed for a Finance Bill that has gone through public participation and may be enacted by the county assembly by March this year.

The highlights of the Bill include lowering of license fees for small businesses, raising miraa and muguka charges and introduction of levies at the port of Mombasa.

“Research by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicates that there are about 30,000 small businesses in the county but only 4,000 promptly pay license fees. The others may be tempted to pay bribes to evade paying taxes. We have lowered the license fees to enable all small businesses to pay,” he explained.

Nassir said miraa and muguka levies and funds will be used to rehabilitate youth and support education. The county government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to map out all levels of revenue streams, including land rates, to enhance tax collection and assist investors in the county.

He said he has met ministry of Transport officials and other stakeholders and they seemed to agree on levies to be charged at the port whose businesses activities lead to a strain on the road infrastructure. 

“Mombasa is one of the cities which do not benefit directly from the port… We will seek mutual growth. Mombasa has to grow,” he said.

He also said the county government has asked the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and United Nations Food Programme (FAO) to assist in a feasibility study to establish the best way to manage garbage in the city before his administration can decide where to have arecycling plant or buy more trucks for collection of garbage.

Nassir pledged to revive the construction of Mombasa municipal stadium which stalled during the Joho administration. The project was set to cost Sh1.6 billion.

The Standard
Make this Easter memorable with our KES999 annual offer!