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Pledges kept and promises broken in Sonko's reign

Monday January 20 2020

Mike Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko arraigned in a Nairobi court over graft charges on January 15, 2020. His zeal to demolish all buildings on riparian land turned into empty threats. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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During his campaigns for governor of Nairobi, Mr Mike Mbuvi Sonko cut the image of a man who understood the poor people’s problems and was, therefore, best placed to solve them.

Indeed, his manifesto contained several pledges to city residents.

The manifesto envisaged to fix the capital’s problems, and outlined a seven-point plan to restore its lost glory.

Mr Sonko promised to ensure smooth garbage collection, streamline hawking, end water shortages, fix sewerage problems, tackle the housing crisis, land grabbing and ease traffic congestion.

“I want to give you an assurance that Nairobi will never be the same again. I shall work round the clock to deliver,” he vowed during his swearing-in ceremony in August, 2017.

True, Nairobi has never been the same again, but not in the way he promised.

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His zeal to demolish all buildings on riparian land turned into empty threats after only a few were brought down.

Mr Sonko did not explain to city residents why this seemingly noble exercise ended prematurely.

PARKING FEE RAISED

Revenue collection has dipped from Sh12 billion annually during the last county administration to Sh10 billion.

This happened despite the county government digitising 130 of its 136 revenue streams.

For city residents seeking services at City Hall, building plan approvals have been grounded, and there is no end in sight to congestion in the city as the hawkers’ menace persists.

Motorists have not had it easy either as they now have to part with Sh400 in daily parking fee at the city centre.

Sewerage and drainage systems are still major concerns and garbage continues to pile up in city streets and estates.

Management of the city’s water supply has been left to cartels and, in some estates, the rationing of water, which began two years ago, is still going on.

Even worse, City Hall has turned into a den of crime, with probe after probe into Mr Sonko’s administration over suspect deals regarding garbage collection and tendering for stadia, the latest being the payment of pending bills.

PUMWANI FACELIFT

Meanwhile, progress has been recorded in health, education and roads, to some extent.

Many health facilities have been renovated, resulting in an increase in patient numbers.

Pumwani Maternity Hospital has undergone a major facelift, including the construction of a new intensive care unit, an outpatient department, a new inpatient ward as well as a laboratory.

It also has a cold room and a milk bank. Mbagathi County Hospital has also undergone a facelift.

A new wing with a 60-bed capacity and a new laboratory are under construction. At Mama Lucy Hospital, a maternity wing and a TB centre are nearing completion.

It has also been equipped with a cancer machine and an oxygen plant.

City Hall plans to refurbish all the 102 health facilities in the county, starting with level three and level four hospitals.

However, a plan that seeks to ensure residents have easy access to healthcare by partnering with the National Hospital Insurance Fund is yet to be realised.

ROAD IMPROVEMENT

Records indicate that Sh1.3 billion has been spent on building and maintenance of roads, bridges and street lights.

Over 80km of roads have been done in the last two years, with another 60 lined up in the current financial year.

Roads in Eastlands have been rehabilitated in collaboration with the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) under the Nairobi Regeneration Plan.

Under the programme, covering 97.4 kilometres of roads, City Hall contributed Sh900 million while the State agency gave Sh1.97 billion.

Of the 3,600km road network under the county government, only 50 per cent is tarmacked, 20 per cent gravelled while 30 per cent remains earthen.

However, potholes still exist despite the county acquiring two patching machines worth Sh50 million each in 2018.

Flooding remains a major problem when it rains due to poor drainage, even in the CBD.

EDUCATION STARVED

There is also a slight improvement in education. Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres have been rehabilitated, with a free milk programme introduced.

The governor pledged to build more primary schools to ease congestion, but has not done so.

Street families are still common, with their presence blamed for an increase in petty crime and muggings.

This is despite Sh1.5 billion having been set aside through the County Annual Development Plan in the last financial year to deal with the problem.

In 2018, an operation was launched to move street families to rehabilitation centres in Kayole, Bahati, Shauri Moyo, Joseph Kang'ethe and Makadara, but it soon fizzled out.