Like the proverbial trip to Canaan the National Super Alliance (Nasa) promised its supporters in the last General Election, Canaan Estate in Kibra slums symbolises the difference between what politicians promise vis-a-vis what they deliver.
The estate’s imposing storeyed houses surrounded by a concrete wall in Soweto built through the slum upgrading project represents the aspirations for better housing for the thousands of residents in the sprawling slum.
Only 822 families were lucky to get keys to the houses in 2017. The rest continue hoping that one day more houses will be built. However, none of the leading candidates in today’s by-election has listed housing as one of their priorities.
Other than poor infrastructure and high poverty levels, Kibra is one of the most important pieces of Kenya’s electoral jigsaw puzzle.
ODM leader Raila Odinga used it as a launch pad for his political career and calls it his “bedroom”, a ‘fact’ he used to mobilise votes for his party’s candidate Imran Okoth.
Deputy President William Ruto, who has eyes on the presidency in 2022, campaigned for Jubilee candidate McDonald Mariga in an effort to shake off the constituency from the grip of ODM.
All that will be tested Thursday as the country’s two biggest protagonists battle it out. As much as the popularity of Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto are crucial factors in Thursday’s election, on the ground, however, residents just want better infrastructure, schools and jobs.
“The young people here don’t have jobs since the NYS projects collapsed. It is the only thing we want,” Mr Daniel Otsotsi told the Nation.
“There have been so many political leaders here and NGOs but things have still remained the same. Everyone looks like they are only thinking about themselves,” said Mr Moses Omondi.
A number of residents told the Nation they were happy at the amount of money that has been flowing into the slum, courtesy of politicians, but they are angry that things have largely remained the same.
Hundreds of residents on Wednesday turned up at their polling centres to confirm if their names are on the list of voters. This is after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sent out text messages to some voters telling them that their polling stations had been changed.
There are 24 candidates in taking part in today’s election but Mr Mariga, Mr Okoth and Mr Eliud Owalo of the Amani National Congress are the top contenders.
Mr Odinga has enjoyed almost fanatical support in the constituency since he first vied in 1992.
ODM still maintains a lead in the constituency with four out of five wards being represented by the party.