This is an open letter to Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko
Let me start this epistle by congratulating you profoundly for noting that there is something wrong with Nairobi City County’s public transport. In fact, the first stage in any policy-making cycle entails defining the problem. On this, Your Excellency, you are on track.
However, Your Excellency, I have informed reservations with regards to your just lifted prescriptions – and I say so respectfully. Here is why: firstly, a close scrutiny of your policy indicates that you did not properly define the nature, size and distribution of the problem the policy ought to have addressed in the first place. This could have assisted you in forecasting on what was needed including your targets. While lifting the ban, you lamented that it adversely affected the sick, senior citizens, expectant mothers and children. This validates my analysis. By the time of implementing this policy, all necessary arrangements mitigating these eventualities ought to have been anticipated and put in place.
Secondly, sir, though this good intentions, your prescription was grossly suffocated with lack of precision and it was indeed doomed to fail from its inception. How can you treat a malaria patient with painkillers? Let me explain: Nairobi is suffering from an unregulated matatu industry. Vehicular congestion at the CBD is just but a symptom of this disease. As a public policy expert, my proposal would have been a complete overhaul of the County’s public transport sector to either a public-private-partnership or County-run arrangement. In developed economies, the sector is identified as one of the key drivers of economic growth and is usually run by the State. But county public road transport is a devolved function in Kenya. Your Excellency, I can confidently assure you that if adopted and supported with an appropriate legal and infrastructural regime, any of these two proposals will significantly solve the menace you are trying to address. Frame your policy around these two frameworks; thank me later.
Finally, Your Excellency, I was not pleased with the way you conducted yourself. Let me be precise: there is this narrative doing rounds that Sonko is a serial joker. You exactly affirmed that! Remember, this is the second time you are lifting this ban. My advice: next time, do due diligence first, be sure of the import and efficacy of your decisions before making them public, and most importantly always stand by them. Public administration is all about implementing public interest.
As I conclude, Steve Jobs had this to say, “it doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. I have no doubt in my mind that you are smart, but the ones who advised you on this particular strategy are not smart. Get some smart brains around your circles and let them do the job. Policy formulation is the mainstay of a nation and it must be left at the hands of technocrats.
Isaiah Nyambariga Ndege (Public Policy Analyst based at Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. Email: [email protected])
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