Why the honeymoon will soon be over for Mombasa's new governor

A recent report by the CoB also revealed that outgoing Governor Joho leaves behind pending bills worth Sh4.29 billion. This financial year, Mombasa targets total revenue of Sh14 billion.

"Joho failed to trim the county's bloated workforce he inherited from the defunct municipal council. Like other governors he feared the political implication," said Mr Julius Ogogoho, a resident of Mombasa.

During the campaigns, Mr Nassir promised to conduct an audit of the county's workforce and threatened to lay off employees who have failed to deliver services to the Mombasa residents.

Nassir also promised to reduce the levies and taxes, and broaden the local sources of revenue. In the last ten years, Mombasa failed to hit its own revenue targets.

In the 2022/23 fiscal year, the port city county budget targets a total revenue of Sh14.2 billion. Out of this is the exchequer's Sh9.4 billion and the county's own source revenue of Sh4.8 billion.

The current financial statement to be executed by the new governor indicates that the county will provide resources to encourage the private sector to invest which will be a source of local revenue.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) chairman Mustafa Ramadhan wants Nassir to sustain the 30 per cent waiver on women-led enterprises on the single business.

"Growing the economy and introducing a new stream of business will be essential for Mombasa's future. Transport and logistics and tourism and hospitality are under intense pressure. The economy is changing and more emphasis is required to ensure continued growth and inward investment beyond the traditional industries that have supported Mombasa for decades," he said.

The KNCCI boss said the new administration should facilitate health tourism, special economic zones, and the introduction of ICT hubs and green energy production to create jobs and tax streams.

Mr Alex Oduor, an environmentalist, said the outgoing administration failed to set up the solid waste management system although he decommissioned the Kibarani dumping site.

Outgoing Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

"Joho will be remembered for closing down the Kibarani dumpsite and the beautification of the city. But he was unable to set up a solid waste management plant and water treatment plant," he said.

In 2020, Environment County Executive Godfrey Neto said Joho shelved the plan to set up an Sh6.5 billion waste recycling plant and adopted a community approach to waste management.

Mr Neto said in the community approach, youth groups are registered and empowered to collect the waste, separate it, and sell it to a privately owned recycling plant. Since 2018, Mombasa's plan to construct the facility to process its waste flopped due to a lack of capital. The defunct municipality had contracted an Italian firm, Jacorossi Impresse.

The tender was revoked by the county, which initiated a new process to partner with Mombasa Cement Company to construct a modern recycling factory. Governor Joho's regime also tried to impose a solid waste collection levy on households and businesses but rescinded it after it was rejected by the residents.

Over 900 metric tonnes of solid waste is generated in Mombasa every day but 450 tons of the garbage is not formally managed, according to the county officials.

Both Nassir promised to revive plans to set up a waste management plant and the desalination plant to purify water from the Indian Ocean for domestic use.

Experts like Coast Water Works Development Agency CEO Martine Tsuma, however, cautioned that a large-scale desalination plant was costly. "The cost of power is about Sh140 to desalinate a cubic metre of water. If you add labour and maintenance costs, it would be very expensive to go that route," said Tsuma in an interview.

Mr Tusma said water and sewerage infrastructure like the pipeline constructed in 1923 and 1953 in Mombasa would also be rehabilitated or replaced to reduce the losses. It is estimated that agency's non-revenue water supply currently stands at 50 percent. Non-revenue water (NRW) supply is water produced but lost before it reaches the customer.

But Nassir will also build on Joho's 10-year legacy, especially on the successes recorded in the healthcare sector, which has witnessed an expansion of the number of hospitals and upgrading of the existing ones. At Coast General and Referral Hospital, 10 years ago, scenes of patients coated with bloody bandages lying in pain on the benches in the casualty section were common.

The walls of the hospital were dirty, the ceiling hanging dangerously, windowpanes shattered and the floor covered with filthy water. The story of the healthcare sector in Mombasa was about the lack of drugs and poor services and workers' strikes.