Starehe MP Charles Njagua, alias Jaguar, and Nairobi MCAs have differed with Governor Mike Sonko over his plans to have a private firm run public toilets in the city.
Residents, meanwhile, have given mixed views to Sonko’s directive to have the facilities be used for free.
The leaders want youths to run the facilities, arguing that doing so will help create jobs for the thousands of jobless youths in the capital.
The county government is currently procuring a cleaning firm to run the facilities following the governor's directive. Sonko says the current operators of the facilities have been engrossed in wrangles that have compromised services.
“I would have preferred if he would at least consider letting the youth manage the public toilets in order to create employment,” Jaguar says.
The first-term legislator argued that this will help address joblessness and reduce crime. He says several youth groups in his constituency have applied several times to manage the facilities, but that they have never been considered.
The county assembly also passed a motion that differed with the governor’s directive. The motion, moved by Huruma MCA David Okelo, urged the county government to allocate the toilets to organised youth groups to run them at a fee. The motion was unanimously approved by the house.
“The county should identify and establish modalities for allowing the youth groups in each of the 85 wards to run and manage toilets under the supervision of [the] Environment department, within a streamlined pay-per-use framework that encourages efficiency,” Okelo said.
Majority leader Abdi Guyo urged the governor to consider giving the toilets to the youth, saying they have been run by a few individuals for decades, denying youths job opportunities.
“Mr Governor, I want to plead with you to please allow our young men and women who are jobless to manage these toilets. We support your call to get them off the hands of cartels who have managed them for years, but please consider the youth,” Guyo said.
Kariobangi MCA Robert Mbatia, one of the longest-serving ward representatives in the house, asked Sonko’s administrations to establish how the contracts were awarded to the current operators. If found that they were awarded fraudulently, he said, then they should be revoked and due process followed.
Meanwhile, city residents are divided over the governor’s order to have the facilities used for free. While others welcome the move, others said the nominal fees should be paid to maintain the facilities.
Resident Tom Ogega says in the 1990s when the toilets were free, people were being mugged and women raped by street boys and other criminal gangs.
“They were dirty, there was no water, tissues and the facilities were generally abandoned. They were hideouts for gangs,” he said.
He says the county should do its homework and come up with a proper plan on how to run the facilities or they risk being taken over by criminals.
Resident Clement Mwangi says he is comfortable paying the Sh10 charged because the facilities are clean and secure.
But Boaz Mutisya, a shoe shiner next to one of the toilets in the city centre, says he has witnessed desperate women with children and the elderly being turned away for lack of Sh10.
“Some of them [those running the facilities], not all, are very inhuman. When a call of nature knocks, there is no way you will block it. It does know whether you have Sh10 or not. I have seen sick people and children mess up outside because they do not have money,” he says.