NO WALK IN THE PARK

Tough job in the in-tray of Nairobi Metropolitan Services boss

New sheriff says he has a strategy and timelines

In Summary

• Tourism CS Balala says the Nairobi regeneration team had laid the foundation for others to build, citing the rehabilitation of 38 roads in Eastlands.

• Balala identified the unending reshuffling of county chief executives and the absence of a deputy governor as some of the challenges that messed up the regeneration work.

Tourism CAS Joseph Boinnet, Nairobi Metropolitan director-general Abdala Badi and Tourism CS Najib Balala on March 20. Image: THE STAR
IT'S YOUR TURN: Tourism CAS Joseph Boinnet, Nairobi Metropolitan director-general Abdala Badi and Tourism CS Najib Balala on March 20. Image: THE STAR

The restoration of Nairobi's lost glory as the green city in the sun will not be a  walk in the park.

The city is choking in garbage while water is ever scarce. Insecurity is rampant. Traffic management is disastrous and housing is nothing to write home about.

All these and more failed due to poor governance.

On Friday, Major General Mohamed Badi took over as the new sheriff in the city, promising to restore its lost glory.

The soldier is now the head Nairobi Metropolitan Services after Governor Mike Sonko handed over the key functions to the national government.

The functions are Health, Transport, Public Works, Utilities and Ancillary Services and Planning and Development.

Tourism CS Najib Balala, who had co-headed the Nairobi Regeneration Team with Sonko regretted: “Some programmes took off while others did not.”

That team, which was formed in April 2018, was tasked with fixing public safety and security, housing and settlement, education and health, environment, water and sanitation, garbage management.

Its other tasks were traffic management, business and wealth creation and social inclusion of youth, women and people living with disabilities.

 

Balala said the team had laid the foundation for others to build on. They had rehabilitated 38 roads in Eastlands at a cost of Sh2.7 billion with Sh1.8 billion funding from the national government and the rest from the City Hall.

He identified the unending reshuffling of county chief executives and the absence of a deputy governor as some of the challenges that messed up their work.

“There was an informal understanding. We got support technically for two months before it fizzled out.” 

Badi exuded confidence that he will turn around Nairobi's fortunes.

"There is a strategy and timelines. The first 100 days ... some projects will have taken off. We will start with a few projects," he said, adding that he has 25 items to deliver in the first three months.

Balala said the regeneration programme also faced political interference as well as well-known cartels which must be dismantled for the new team to deliver services. 

“We must dismantle them for Nairobi to work.”

Key agencies like the National Environment Management Authority, Kenya Water Towers Agency had been sidelined.

Under governance, public safety and security, the team was supposed to ensure that 12,000 households had electricity within 180 days.

Another of its mandate was to engage the youth, including NYS, to provide security for the CBD to have a 24-hour economy.

Further, the team was to resolve contentious land cases and recover illegally acquired public land in markets and water reservoirs.

The team was to issue 50,000 title deeds by May 2018.

Balala said: “Thirty thousand title deeds were issued in Nairobi in May 2018. Five thousand are yet to be issued.”

As for housing and settlement, the regeneration team was to undertake the construction of 100,000 affordable houses in collaboration with the National Construction Authority, the Lands ministry, Nema and the county's physical planning division.

The team had three affordable housing flagship projects –  Shauri Moyo (5,000 units), Makongeni (20,000) and Starehe (3,000).

The team was further tasked with setting aside five acres for permanent exhibition space at ASK Jamhuri grounds for alternative building technology, the green economy and smart cities.

A few of the projects were started. Others only exist in reports.

Under education and health, the team was expected to equip youth with Technical and Vocational Education and Training skills within 100 days for the enhancement of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

The Balala-Sonko team was also supposed to provide 102,122 primary schoolgirls with sanitary towels worth Sh9.3 million in six months and to train 2,200 youths on life skills and core business skills.

Another key job was to decongest Kenyatta National Hospits by upgrading 24 public health facilities and ensuring they had with three-phase power connection.

Under traffic management and city transport, the team was expected to launch 39 buses for Bus Rapid Transit on Thika road and improve the infrastructure on Langata, Waiyaki, Mombasa, Jogoo, Juja and Ngong road.

Bus termini were to be automated while non-motorised modes of transport were to be improved.

The team was also to set up Nairobi traffic management committee comprised of NTSA, Traffic police, NCCG and public service operators.

It was to start pilot car-free days between 8.30am and 4.30pm in the CBD and Westland on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

On passenger train services, additional three coaches were to be introduced on Ruiru MGR route and seven on the Kikuyu route for 4,000 extra travellers per day.

The cashless fare system was also to be introduced.

The team was to implement staggered working hours for public service employees from 8am to 500pm and from 9am to 6pm.

All these came a cropper.

The regeneration team was to unclog all the drainages in the first 100 days to ascertain that no flooding was experienced in future. 

This failed just like operation "garbage out" in the 85 electoral wards.