President Uhuru Kenyatta officially handed over the running of key functions of Nairobi County to a military general, revealing the importance the State attaches to reviving the capital city, which has been running on autopilot for months.
Mr Kenyatta created Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to take over the running of the county government’s transferred functions, as State takeover officially began.
The President appointed Maj-Gen Mohamed Abdalla Badi the Director-General of NMS.
Maj-Gen Badi will be deputised by Physical Planning PS Enosh Onyango Momanyi, with the team given firm instructions to “fix” the city which almost went under as Governor Mike Sonko watched.
The career military pilot will now oversee the running of the four delegated functions — health, transport, planning and development, and public works and utilities — which together have a budget of over Sh20 billion.
In effect, this left Governor Sonko with less influential responsibilities such as the licensing of dogs, controlling pornography, and other non-essential services, effectively rendering him a ceremonial governor.
The formal handover at State House yesterday came after the expiry of the 21 days for the deed of transfer of functions that saw the Nairobi County government surrender some of its functions to the national government.
Already, the Kenya Revenue Authority has officially taken over revenue collection in Nairobi, and the taxman has met county revenue staff.
Without mincing his words, President Kenyatta ordered the new team to dismantle cartels, rein in wanton corruption, and restore the city’s lost glory.
“The biggest problem that the city faces is corruption and cartels that have a vice-like grip. From collection of garbage, to parking of vehicles, water supply and issuance of permits, the cartels and corrupt practices have made service delivery almost impossible,” said the President.
Interestingly, Mr Sonko is facing a Sh357 million graft charge, which prompted a court to bar him from accessing his City Hall office until the case is determined.
Investigative agencies have also opened several corruption-related investigations into the county government, ranging from multi-million-shilling garbage tender awards to a multi-billion-shilling stadiums construction saga.
Mr Kenyatta decried how Nairobi residents have had to put up with uncollected garbage, water rationing and perennial traffic congestion, among other challenges, all due to the cartels, corrupt practices and internal constraints.
He said that even the creation of the Nairobi Regeneration Committee two years ago to oversee the running of the devolved government and deal with the issues bedevilling the county did not bring any tangible results.
And, as a consequence of Nairobi producing 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and a regional hub playing host to several regional and international organisations, he assured citizens of reliable, efficient and timely services going forward.
The first task facing Maj-Gen Badi and his team is ending corruption and dismantling cartels that have hindered development of the county.
The team will also look into the regeneration of Nairobi, with areas of focus being reactivating garbage collection and implementing a solid waste management plan, building pedestrian walkways and improving water sanitation, among others.
To decongest the city centre, the team will rehabilitate and reintroduce the use of traffic signals, an automated hourly car parking system, construction of walkways along streets such as Muindi Mbingu, Wabera and Kenyatta Avenue; operationalise two matatu terminuses at Desai and Park Roads in order to stem the disruptive use of city streets as parking for matatus.
In addition, they will work closely with NAMATA to implement Nairobi urban plan and effect non-motorised goals including provision of street furniture, paved walkways as well as improved conditions for pedestrians with the commuter rail plan pushed forward as part of decongesting the city.
They will also be tasked with streamlining urban renewal projects such as estate renewals which have continually been delayed; implementation of Nairobi Railway City Masterplan; development control and approvals for the county; implementing urgent action plans to clear approval backlog and e-construction permit system.
In the matter of solid waste management, NMS has been directed to operationalise effective garbage collection and disposal mechanisms including collaboration with NYS; crack down on illegal dumpsites and enforcement of effluent discharge from industries and other institutions; gazette legal garbage sites for use by public and private garbage collectors.
“Your responsibility will be to deliver services to the citizens of Nairobi together with other officers to be seconded; the national government will assume control over the functions that have been transferred,” said the President.
The ceremony was witnessed by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Attorney-General Paul Kihara, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, among other leaders.
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Maj-Gen Badi, who was a senior administrator at the National Defence College, worked previously as Moi Air Base Commander.
The logistics helicopter pilot has also served as the Deputy Commandant at the National Defence College and a United Nations staff officer in 1999 during the Sierra Leone peacekeeping mission.
The appointment of Maj-Gen Badi, who holds a Masters of Science degree in strategic studies, mirrors the secondment of military officers to serve in various civilian roles under the reign of Gen Samson Mwathethe.
In November 2018, Brigadier Vincent Loonena was seconded as the new Director-General of the Kenya Coast Guard Service.
For Mr Momanyi, it has been a steady rise from the lower cadres of the ministry as a clerical officer to an under-secretary before his appointment as PS in January.
Additional reporting by Nyambega Gisesa