We need a city worth its repute and regional standing

Friday, January 22nd, 2021 00:00 |
Nairobi Metropolitan Services director Maj-Gen Mohamed Badi. Photo/PD/FILE

Nairobi, one of Africa’s fastest growing cities attracts immense social and commercial interest.

Its infrastructural investments, vibrant communities and flourishing economy have secured its place, as the East African hub for both business and leisure. 

But amidst these positive attributes, it has for the past years suffered great mismanagement at the confluence of development and dirty politics.

Traffic congestion remains a problem for the city dwellers.  Insecurity continues to stifle small enterprises even as gangs and petty thieves thrive within the city centre.

Congestion especially in downtown Nairobi has exacerbated the poor sanitary situation and hampered existing planning and expansion exercises.

These in many ways affect the quality of life of the city dwellers, that often complain of limited access to basic services including clean and affordable water. 

Interestingly, thousands of the city dwellers troop to the ballot with the hope that the people they elect will resolve these challenges.

Lofty promises are made and lengthy agreements entered into with the ambition to restore the city to its rightful place.

But history shows these expectations remain elusive.  The regimes that have taken charge of the city under devolution have failed to deliver. 

Evans Kidero, who was elected to office in 2013 as the first governor of the city county, was charged with fraud, leading to the loss of public funds for services not rendered. His case is still pending. 

The immediate former governor Mike Sonko was recently impeached on allegations of corruption and abuse of office.

His poor leadership did not however come as a surprise. Unlike Kidero, his populist politics resonated with the urban poor.

His messiah complex, saw him creating a parallel government while in office, brokering cooking pots, coffins and wedding gowns for his constituents.

It did not help that he lacked the requisite skills to administer his office. Most damaging perhaps, were the allegations that he used public funds to sponsor his kin for a round-trip on foreign land. 

What is clear from the above is that Nairobi does not need a book smart or a street-smart leader in their extremes. What Nairobi needs is a leader who has the interests of the county at heart.  

The appointment of Major General Mohammed Badi as the first sitting military officer to be a Cabinet Secretary in charge of Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) is therefore a breath of fresh air.

His docket demands for the improvement of the city’s infrastructural outlook to spur social and economic development. 

Thus far, the NMS has recorded great success in its portfolio. It has wrestled the garbage collection systems from cartels thus enhancing sanitation services within the city.

It has repaired 92 vehicles including 24 fire engines, that had been grounded due to the past regimes’ failure to rehabilitate the county’s central garage. 

It has bought 24 new water bowsers, constructed 193 boreholes and repair works on the city’s water services is ongoing.

Further, over 50 per cent of the roads are being recarpeted to enhance movement into and within the city. 

There is a lot more however, that must be done for Nairobi. The recorded success stories will require continued support and political goodwill from citizens and leaders alike. 

Consequently, even the existing legal stalemate regarding the swearing in of Ann Kananu as the next governor should not derail the ongoing city upgrading exercises.

When she eventually takes over office it is hoped that the Nairobi County executive, NMS, the national government and the city residents will work hand in hand to build a city worth its repute and regional standing. — The writer is an Advocate of the High Court

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