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No Governor has cracked the code for Nairobi city yet, does Tim Wanyonyi have the answers?

POLITICS
By Hudson Gumbihi | November 23rd 2021

Following Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi's announcement that he is vying for Nairobi Governor, the mind unconscionably watches him wade into a city with disorderly public transport, unplanned buildings, dilapidated sewer lines, perennial water shortages, insecurity, haphazard littering of garbage and unending traffic gridlocks.

I am going to clean up this mess, his 10 Point Agenda, said.

But stakeholders interviewed, among them, Henry Ochieng of Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA), were in agreement that fixing Nairobi will require consultations, political goodwill and sufficient funds.

“All that is outlined in Tim’s agenda for the city require resource and a workforce committed to planning and implementation ethos. The governor must seek partnerships and engage residents on issues that directly affect them,” states the KARA chief executive officer.

Successive leaders have tried in vain to fix some of these problems. Not even the 13 post-independence mayors who served under the defunct Nairobi City Council were able to find the right dose.  

Mayors Charles Rubia, Isack Lugonzo, Andrew Ngumba, Nathan Kahara, Steve Mwangi, Dick Waweru, John King’ori, Sammy Mbugua, John Ndirangu, Joe Aketch, Dickson Waithaka, Geoffrey Majiwa and George Aladwa failed to change or improve the face of Nairobi during their respective tenures.

None can be remembered for transformative leadership that improved the image of the city. There was hope that things would change under a new dispensation of devolved governments.

First governor Evans Kidero barely scratched the surface. His successor Mike Sonko's term was disastrous. And with Maj Gen Badi looming large at Nairobi Metropolitan Services in combat fatigues, and with elections around the bend, newly sworn-in governor Anne Kananu could end up being the proverbial passing cloud.  Wanyonyi wants her job.

“Fellow residents of Nairobi, I speak not from mere theory, but from my firm knowledge and understanding of the affairs of Nairobi. Having served in Nairobi county for a total of 15 years, I am well aware of what residents of Nairobi require and I will fix it,” said Wanyonyi when he unveiled his candidature.

To make Nairobi a better place to live in and work, the Westlands MP has prioritised Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), corruption, environment, empowerment of the disabled and youth, economy, health, transport, tourism and housing as key issues that require attention.

Wanyonyi’s promises to roll out an elaborate ICT infrastructure, which he says will reduce perennial service delivery hitches. There will be free internet Wi-Fi in designated public spaces.

Wanyonyi will not entertain graft. Huge amounts of money collected from various revenue streams are pocket by a few rogue employees. Some of the key revenue streams are land rates, single business permits, parking fees, building permits, and billboards and adverts.

“To catalyze business growth in Nairobi, I will put in place bold mechanisms to fight corruption by enforcing all the by-laws that have been passed to prevent corruption, legislating more and better ones to seal loopholes and move towards a cashless system,” says Wanyonyi.

Residents seeking services part with kickbacks to be served. This culture has in turn bred a complex problem manifesting in artificial water shortages, approval of unfit buildings, mushrooming of informal settlements, allocation of undesignated lanes and streets to matatu Saccos.

Graft, according to Ochieng, is the major source of problems bedeviling the city. Whoever manages to uproot corruption, he observes, will have done half of the job.

“Virtually all sectors have been grounded because of graft, which is affecting quality service delivery,” notes the KARA boss.

A survey by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) released in 2018 rated service delivery in county governments as average.

Some of the services that were measured included roads, street lighting, traffic, parking, agriculture, abattoirs, livestock sale yards, disease control, health facilities, cemeteries, trade licenses, local tourism, mapping, housing, pollution, public works, water and sanitation, storm water and management systems among others.

On environment, Wanyonyi has assured residents of abundant water and a clean atmosphere. This will be achieved through proper planning for water supply, waste disposal and environmental conservation.

Most residents rely on water either sourced from boreholes, supplied by bowsers or hawked by vendors. A 20-jerrican litre can cost as much as Sh50 in some city estates where taps are perennially dry.

According to Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) the city has a shortfall of 25 per cent water supply with those living in informal settlements getting unclean water due to deterioration of pipes.

Waste disposal is pathetic. From residential areas to the Central Business District (CBD), garbage is strewn all over, making the city an eyesore. The official dumpsite in Dandora is full and a health risk to surrounding neighbourhoods.

The court in July ordered Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) to relocate the dumpsite within six months. Justice Kossy Bor asked NMS to rehabilitate the dumpsite after a shutdown.

Consecutive regimes at City Hall have failed to find an alternative dump site. There have been false promises of establishing a recycling plant in Dandora as another option.

The environment is poorly conserved. The parks are unsafe while Nairobi and Ngong rivers have been polluted to the extent of being mistaken for channels of raw sewer.

Sam Dindi, an environmentalist says promises can be good as long as they are well thought-out and implemented.

For Nairobi to be clean, notes Dindi, funds must be set aside, residents sensitized on importance of frequent clean-up exercises and a new masterplan should be developed.

“The foundation stone of Nairobi was built on a clean environment. The first inhabitants settled here because it was a clean cool place, unfortunately, we have allowed the city to be engulfed by dirt and pollution,” says Dindi.

He is proposing a secular-economy model that entails recycling of waste for value addition. “Instead of discarding, waste should be treated as a resource, which can create employment opportunities for our youth,” says Dindi, the planning and community mobilization director at Mazingira Yetu Organisation.

Creating an enabling environment is all that is needed to generate opportunities for empowering artists, unemployed and people living with disabilities, according to Wanyonyi who says the rich arts industry remain untapped and unappreciated.

“I will promote art, culture and sports so as to create jobs and opportunities to employ thousands of talented youths of Nairobi and Kenyan,” says the MP

For commerce to thrive, Wanyonyi will promote ease of doing business by reviewing and harmonizing existing taxes and levies. Decent stalls will replace kiosks while county officials will be trained and monitored on customer care and servant leadership.

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