Newly elected Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has hit the ground running. Coming from him, this is not surprising because, as the immediate former Senator of Nairobi, he is fully apprised of the goings on in the city.
In what could be a reciprocal gesture to the hustlers who voted for him, Mr Sakaja ordered the unconditional release of all boda boda riders who had been arrested by County Askaris. Second, he has terminated the Kenya Revenue Authority’s mandate to collect taxes on behalf of the county government. Third, he has assured county workers that henceforth, their salaries will be paid promptly.
However, the real test of his commitment to make a difference in the management of Nairobi lies in his ability to keep the city clean and rein in cartels at City Hall. One of the hallmarks of Nairobi today is uncollected garbage and the putrid smell issuing forth from such heaps.
Indeed, keeping Nairobi clean has presented governors with a special kind of headache that does not respond to treatment. Evans Kidero, the first governor of Nairobi, promised to make the city clean and sparkling, but failed to keep that pledge.
The second governor, Mr Mike Sonko, made a commitment that every first Saturday of the month will be dedicated to cleaning Nairobi. He even created the Sonko Rescue Team as a sign of his commitment, but he, too, failed. By the time the national government handed partial running of Nairobi County government functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) in 2020, Nairobi was half buried in filth.
NMS did a good job of sprucing up Nairobi; collected garbage, created pedestrian walkways and restored a semblance of order but towards the end, it appeared to struggle and the filth came back. What Nairobi needs is a concrete plan to effectively dispose of more than 2,000 metric tonnes of garbage produced in Nairobi daily without allowing it to accumulate in garbage bins along the streets. Without such a plan, Sakaja will leave Nairobi under heaps of stinking garbage at the end of his term just like his predecessors.