On a warm morning of August 25, 2022, Johnson Arthur Sakaja stood in the footsteps of KICC to be sworn in as Nairobi’s next governor. Coming from a grueling campaign, the moment was a sigh of relief for the capital city’s fourth governor.
In his maiden speech, Sakaja downplayed the significance of the event terming it as a normal day one in office as he spelled out his agenda of transforming the city into a paradise of order, dignity, hope, and opportunity.
But one year into office, there is no order, dignity is alien, lost hope, and scarce opportunities as residents face the same old challenges that make life a nightmare.
Public transport is disorderly, and accessing education is a challenge, especially for those in informal settlements, hawking remains a malaise within Central Business District where licensed traders are facing stiff competition from vendors, health facilities lack adequate medicine, equipment, and personnel while heaps of garbage are choking commercial and residential places.
“We must create a city of order and dignity, hope and opportunity for all in Nairobi. We can do it. Let’s make Nairobi work,” he rallied his expectant supporters.
Exactly one year down the line, The Nairobian examines some of Sakaja’s hits and misses.
Sakaja came into office as plans were afoot to relocate some of the matatus and shuttles in a bid to decongest the CBD, which is in a mess.
Greenpark main terminus
The defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) had earmarked Greenpark as the ideal main terminus. The Sh250 million facility was at an advanced stage of completion. The plan was soon abandoned and the reactional park is almost becoming one of the elephant projects.
The recreational park is yet to be opened to the public three years later under unclear circumstances.
According to the Matatu Owners Association (MOA), NMS did not consult them on the right option to fix the transport mess in the city.
“They decided to work with people who don’t understand anything in the matatu sector. That is why they failed because they did not consult the owners,” says MOA chairman Albert Karakacha.
Matatu owners are however optimistic that congestion in the city can be fixed if Sakaja involves the matatus stakeholders.
School feeding program
After several months of groundwork to roll out a school feeding program, the initiative is set to kick off once the schools open next week.
During the 2023-2024 budget, some Sh1.7 billion was set aside for the program, which some observers say will be a milestone should it succeed.
The initiative dubbed Dishi na County has faced some hurdles including a court case filed by former Education CEC Muthoni Ouko.
In an open letter to Sakaja, Ouko advised the current administration to use the funds to build eight schools each year instead. The program is expected to feed about 250,000 children in public schools, especially those in informal settlements.
For decades, managing hawkers in the CBD has been a headache to successive regimes.
In the latest bid to fix the perennial problem, Sakaja’s administration has designated some lanes where hawkers can operate from.
The lanes are marked and numbered. However many hawkers and licensed traders owning shops are not comfortable with this kind of arrangement.
“The current administration has tried in terms of infrastructure and some areas of development like markets and roads,” says Peter Njoroge who recently retired as chairman of, the Handcart and Trolley Association.
In January 2023, a task force report on health indicated that there was a nexus between poverty and diseases. Many city dwellers were contracting diseases as a result of unemployment.
The problem was partly blamed on negligence and corruption in some health facilities.
In a bid to improve the situation, Sakaja’s administration has set aside a huge share of the Sh42.3 billion budget for the financial year 2023/2024.
The sector was allocated Sh1.1 billion for the construction, equipping, and rehabilitation of health facilities.
Soon after being sworn into office, the governor hit the road running by touring parts of the city to assess the garbage situation in the city.
Among the places Sakaja visited was City Market where heaps of garbage are a constant reminder of a dysfunctional waste collection and disposal system.