Two seemingly unrelated events happened in Nairobi within a span of twenty-four hours that could point to a new dawn for the residents of Nairobi and the country at large.
First, the President sets out to personally launch and supervise projects in the city county and, a few hours later, the speaker of the county assembly resigned.
President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to have finally decided to leave the boardroom and personally take charge of development in the capital city and, indicatively, the country.
The President seems keen to ensure they are completed within set timelines.
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In the last two weeks, the President has hit the ground running, traversing the city to have a first-hand grasp of the progress in the various development projects launched by the national and county governments.
The latest move comes in the wake of the President’s highly publicised fallout with Deputy President William Ruto and the court order barring Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko from stepping into his office, which has seen him cede major functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), headed by Director-General Mohamed Badi.
The Majority of the projects Uhuru has been inspecting are being implemented by NMS
The embattled governor has, however, put up a brave face, insisting that he is still the city boss despite the open show of desertion by the Presidency.
“I am still the Governor of Nairobi, all these functions that are transferred are still under me. That’s why you saw me launching projects in Mbagathi,” said a defiant Sonko at some point.
On Monday August 10, President Kenyatta commissioned the construction of three new Level 3 hospitals in Nairobi’s informal settlements.
The President witnessed ground-breaking for the construction of 16-bed capacity hospitals at Muthua in Uthiru and Kianda in Kibra as well as a 24-bed facility at Maendeleo Village in Mukuru kwa Reuben.
The three hospitals are part of 20 such facilities earmarked for various parts of the city and are being developed by the Nairobi Metropolitan Service at an average cost of Sh70 million each.
Alongside the new health facilities, NMS is also fast-tracking the sinking of community boreholes to provide free clean drinking water and upgrading of access roads to bitumen standards.
Last week, the President conducted a night tour of Nairobi with General Badi and a few officials, inspecting projects within the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), Kirinyaga Road, Michuki Park, Desai and Park Roads in Ngara and the Government Garage.
Pundits correctly point out that the tours are meant to show that the President is fully in charge of the government as Nairobi is the seat of power.
“There has been disquiet especially by people from Mt Kenya region that the President has not been working but by coming out the way he has done, he is giving people hope that all will be well,” one such pundit, Professor Munene Macharia, has argued.
For Nairobi to maintain its standing as the best in the region, it has put up good infrastructure, water, cleanness to keep up with the likes of New York, Geneva, and Rome which house key UN facilities.
The President himself says the projects he is launching are part of a grand plan to transform the outlook of the city especially its informal settlements.
In his characteristic service oriented guidance, Uhuru asked Kenyans to ignore disruptive and empty political rhetoric saying the government’s focus is to improve the living standards of Nairobi residents.
On Saturday night, Uhuru made surprise visits to Kilimani and Central police stations to assess the progress on the police digital Occurrence Book (OB).
The visits, an indication that the digital OB train was about to leave the station, follow several directives to the officers to embrace the new technology or risk being rendered irrelevant.
In the CBD, he inspected roads and non-motorised transport projects on Muindi Mbingu street while at Michuki Park, he checked the progress of the project ahead of its opening to the public on Friday. He is expected to preside over the event.
He drove himself in a saloon police car all through the exercise and had a lean security team in an apparent exhibition of his “man of the people” nature.
Nairobi is clearly set for better days.
Mr Kwinga is a political scientist. [email protected]