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You don't have power over Sakaja, Sifuna tells DP Gachagua

 The Senator of Nairobi County Edwin Sifuna. [File, Standard]

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has asked Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to stop antagonising Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja over the county boss's decision to prohibit matatus from accessing the central business district (CBD).

Sakaja and Gachagua are embroiled in a fierce exchange after the governor in late November 2022 said all matatus won't be allowed to operate in the CBD.

Public Service Vehicles from Western Kenya and Rift Valley were thus ordered to operate from the Green Park Terminus.

The governor said his administration would gradually rid Nairobi CBD of matatus in efforts to decongest the city centre and control noise pollution.

Sakaja's decision irked Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who said he "won't allow Sakaja to interfere with the businesses of Kenyan people, especially members of the Kikuyu community".

Sakaja, on the other hand, has since told off Gachagua, saying he (Sakaja) is not a pushover.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has since waded into the debate, telling Gachagua that he is overstepping his mandate as deputy president.

"Article 96 of our Constitution enjoins me as the Senator of Nairobi to be the protector of the interests of counties and their governments. It is this mandate that forces me to now speak on the recent conduct of the deputy president," Sifuna said in a statement dated Monday, January 9.

"The DP has reportedly declared that he can direct any governor on what to do. The 2010 Constitution, in creating devolved units, made them distinct governments in their own right. They are therefore not subject to direction or control by the national government," said the Nairobi Senator.

"The governors do not report to Gachagua. He has no power over county governments and must desist from interfering with their working," added Sifuna.

The lawmaker said Sakaja was right to bar matatus from the CBD because the city dwellers had, for long, wanted that to happen.

"Nairobians have stated unequivocally that they want the city to change. Changing the city cannot happen by making it a large kiosk paradise or a big matatu terminus under the guise of 'Kazi ni Kazi'.

"In achieving this change, the Nairobi County Government cannot and shall not be beholden to tribal blackmail. We must change how the city is run and one individual cannot hold all of Nairobi hostage," said Sifuna.

The senator also urged Gachagua to refrain from ethnic talk, saying it could polarise the city.

"All tribes in Kenya as well as foreign nationalities dwell in harmony in Nairobi. We reject Gachagua's invitation to elevate some tribes to superior positions over others or his ill-informed agenda of attempting to divide Nairobi into tribal boroughs."

The senator asked Governor Sakaja to stand his ground.

"Gachagua grossly overestimates himself and his influence over Nairobi politics. The people who hold sway over city political affairs are known and they haven't spoken. Governor Sakaja knows this fact and should proceed to execute his agenda in the manner he sees fit. He will, in the end, only account to Nairobians and not Gachagua."

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