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What Nairobi handover to government means for Sonko

Wednesday February 26 2020

Sonko at Milimani court

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at the Milimani Anti-Corruption Court on February 18, 2020, when he pleaded not guilty to fresh charges over the fraudulent hire of heavy equipment for the county government. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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When Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko handed over management of key sectors to the national government on Monday, he essentially threw in the towel as far as the running of the county is concerned.

The handover by Sonko, who was barred from office last December over loss of Sh357 million of the county's money, means the government will be in charge of health, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services as well as planning and development.

City Hall has 10 major sectors including finance and economic planning; environment, water and natural resources; roads, transport and infrastructure; ICT and e-government; and education, sports, youth and social services.

The others are trade, commerce and tourism; health services; devolution and public service management; lands, housing and urban planning; and food, agriculture and livestock.

The government has taken over three crucial ones - roads; health and lands, leaving left just a shell at City Hall, without much for Sonko to manage.

In a statement, State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo said, “This will ensure Nairobi residents receive services efficiently. The move comes as a breakthrough in the running of county services that had ground to a halt."

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NO SURPRISE

The move was no surprise for Nairobians, who have watched the city deteriorate, plagued by poor services, since Sonko took office in August 2017.

Functions at most of City Hall's departments had stalled for months because of mass suspension of staff.

The legal and urban planning departments bore the brunt of Sonko's unorthodox leadership, barely having enough staff as the governor suspended them.

Revenue collection has been on the decline and roads in the capital are plagued by potholes, often flooding during the rainy seasons due to poor drainage systems.

Another key issue for the city is problems associated with matatus: Defiance of regulations pertaining to parking areas and drop-off and pick-up areas as well as congestion.

Many parts of the central business district and other parts of Nairobi have become an eyesore because of mounds of uncollected garbage, partly due to frequent strikes by workers.

HEALTH

Another headache for Sonko was that of poor services in some hospitals, compounded by lack of drugs as the county owes the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) at least Sh230 million.

Nairobi's health sector stood out as it has been plagued by many problems, including frequent strikes by health workers and protests about services at some, which have resulted in investigations by the medical council.

On Monday, casual workers at Pumwani Maternity Hospital went on strike to press for payment of dues dating back to last November.

Last year, nurses and clinicians downed their tools citing lack of promotions, re-designations and harsh working conditions.

TRANSPORT

Nairobi's transport sector has had its fair share of troubles, the main one being that of congestion and hurdles surrounding the ambitious plan to streamline the matatu sector.

Plans that have failed in the past include those meant to keep matatus and boda-bodas out of the CBD, having only two matatus per sacco access the CBD, and turning some streets into one-way passageways.

The Nairobi Regeneration Plan saw the roads sub-sector taken over by the national government in 2018, with the department of public works, utilities and related services focusing on infrastructure.

The project involved City Hall and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), whose focus has been rehabilitating roads in Eastlands.

The regeneration committee also took charge of the environment sector and oversaw the cleaning of Nairobi River and its tributaries.

URBAN PLANNING

Urban planning, a multi-billion-shilling sub-sector at City Hall, also comes to the fore.

Last year, Governor Sonko rendered it dormant by firing all technical officers as well as a technical committee charged with approving construction permits.

Consequently, construction projects stalled for seven months, forcing Sonko to recall all the suspended staff just last month.

FINANCE

The finance and economic planning docket could not be fully handed over as signatories to county accounts must be officers from City Hall.

However, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will be in charge of revenue collection and management.

Devolution and public service management will also remain with City Hall as it deals squarely with the welfare of more than 12, 000 county employees.

The ICT and e-government as well as agriculture and livestock segments are never critical as not much happens at the county level.

Nairobi has made significant strides in education.

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