Sakaja: Challenges we faced, my dreams for Nairobians in 2024

Nairobi Governor Sakaja Johnson. [David Gichuru, Standard]

With a population of over four million people in Nairobi, Governor Johnson Sakaja has the huge task of ensuring the ity regains its beauty while remaining an attraction to international guests.

The governor spoke to The Standard about the challenges of the past year and his plans for city residents in 2024.

Nairobi was listed among counties with a low absorption of development funds by the Controller of Budget.

If you look keenly, you will find out that those counties that have been listed by the Controller of Budget have spent huge parts of their budgets on development and have bought vehicles. For example, if Nairobi County bought 1OO county vehicles, it will be listed as having invested in development but this may not be beneficial to residents.

The CoB report accurately shows the cash flow in counties but it is not well understood in terms of development expenditure. Currently, we have Sh23 million worth of development projects which are going on in each of the 85 wards. They include road repairs. We have done cabros in Gikomba and Eastleigh.

What have you done for the people of Nairobi in 2023?

Some of out most successful projects include the Dishi na County school feeding programme and Umoja Eye Hospital. We completed the Intensive Care Unit at Mama Lucy Hospital while another one is being set up at Mbagathi Hospital. We have repaired roads in all wards. At the moment, we are building stadiums in Mwiki, Dandora, Woodley, Jericho and Uhuru because sports is key in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

We also organized a successful football tournament with 340 teams participating. We have completed a bus park along Outering Road. We have acquired 23 tippers and 24 refuse compactors. We are also setting up a fire station in Gikomba and another one in Kangemi. I can assure you that if you visit the wards, you will not fail to see the development projects. We are implementing many other projects that the people of Nairobi are proud of.

Recently, I flagged off 10 new skip loaders and skips at City Hall to boost garbage collection because I remain committed to delivering our promises to the people of Nairobi, which include cleaning up the city. This equipment will go a long way to ensuring garbage is collected as effectively as possible. We are keen on keeping our environment clean.

Each skip loader has five skips bringing the total number to 50 skips, the largest number procured in recent years. The skips will mainly be stationed in markets and high garbage-generation points across the county. The 10 skip loaders and 50 skips are part of the equipment procured for the Green Nairobi sector. Already, 27 tippers have been delivered and 24 refuse compactors are still on the way.

As part of efforts to deliver a green Nairobi, 2,500 youth, whom we have christened the “Green Army”, were hired and have been working tirelessly to clean the city and unblock drainage. These efforts helped check flooding during the recent rains. We have plans to hire an additional 1,500 young people to join the “Green Army”.

What are your plans for 2024 for the Dishi na County Programme

The Dishi na County kitchens are producing 1,000 meals each, serving hundreds of primary schools in the city. The project is meant to ensure pupils get quality meals, which is very important, especially since some of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme is also attracting many children to attend school, and it is key in retaining them.

This programme has made pupils feel loved bearing in mind some who could not get lunch felt embarrassed as their colleagues carried lunch to school or had some cash to buy food in canteens. This programme treats all pupils equally in the provision of meals.

The central model Kitchen is being replicated in other parts of Africa and when I attended an international conference in Paris, France, participants from various countries were keen to learn about this programme so they can have it in their home countries.

When I showed the President the Roysambu kitchen, whose foundation stone he had laid, the Head of State was delighted. This programme has created employment for 2,000 people and we look forward to feeding 80,000 school children. 

How do you plan to address the problem of perennial water shortage in the city?

The water crisis in the city has been caused by failure to invest in the sector. That is why we have rationing to ensure that all areas get water. We lose around 30 million litres of water through the purification process every day. We need around 140 million litres of water in the city per day. We received Sh15 billion from South Korea which we will use to improve the water supply system to resolve the water crisis that has been witnessed for many years.

How have you managed to navigate murky city politics?

I belong to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. However, I have been able to work well with MCAs, both those who are allied to Azimio La Umoja and my coalition. My goal is to serve the people of Nairobi. The challenges faced by city residents are not affiliated with any political formation. They are required to be addressed by all elected leaders, irrespective of which political party they belong to. That is my understanding, and position. 

What are the key milestones that Nairobi has made in 2023?

We collected the most revenue in five years, of Sh10.5 billion. We have set a target of Sh19 billion which we hope to achieve in 2024. We ensured that there were sufficient drugs in our health facilities. We hosted the Nairobi Festival which was attended by more than 200,000 people.