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February 16, 2019

Project to revitalise Nairobi stalls as team confronts major hurdles

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the team leading the regeneration of Nairobi at State House, Nairobi on April 13,2018.Photo PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the team leading the regeneration of Nairobi at State House, Nairobi on April 13,2018.Photo PSCU

The much-hyped Nairobi regeneration programme has stalled, the Star has learnt.

A source familiar with the situation described a programme lacking focus, direction and action.

“There is nothing much happening. We’ve been like passengers in a car that has stalled. Things started going slowly last year due to court cases, funding and politics,” the source, whose institution was to providecoordination, told the Star.

The team, which includes national and county leaders, is co-chaired by Governor Mike Sonko and Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala. They were tasked with revamping, decongesting and cleaning the city to improve services.

There are persistent complaints that Sonko hasn’t done enough to clear garbage and provide other basic services, but improvements have been made.

The programme involves cleaning Nairobi River, issuing over 50,000 titles deeds in Eastlands, creating a mass transit system including special routes and high-capacity buses.

It also called for decongesting Kenyatta National Hospital by providing capacity in other county health facilities such as Mama Lucy, Mutuini and Pumwani Hospitals.

The Treasury allocated Sh800 million for the current financial year. Under this plan, Nairobi was projected to provide 200,000 new affordable homes.

Unsafe buildings were marked for demolition, which has been halted for the time being.

On April 3 last year the team pledged before President Uhuru Kenyatta to either deliver or resign.

Yesterday, the Star learnt that some key institutions have been relegated to bystanders.

Environment executive Larry Wambua said he is not in charge. “I’m not in a position to comment,” he said.

DEMOLITIONS PART OF PROJECT

On December 26, Public Works PS Paul Maringa declared zero tolerance of developers defying construction suspension notices. He warned that the government will not compromise on non-compliance.

He said more than 3,000 construction sites have defied suspension notices by the National Construction Authority. Most of them are in Nairobi, especially in informal settlements such as Huruma and Githurai.

Maringa said engineers and architects who “do shoddy work and engage in malpractices” risk having their licenses revoked.

He said regeneration had not stopped.“The problem is enormous. We are looking for smart solutions,” the PS said. Efforts to reach him yesterday were not successful.

However, Water CS Simon Chelugui said the Nairobi clean-up will soon regain momentum.

He said the ‘glory’ of Nairobi River will be restored and it will take its place alongside Europe’s Frankfurt River that finally has clean water.

“We must exploit a number of approaches. The first is administrative.The ministry will be very tough on polluters. We will soon have punitive laws,” Chelugui said.

The CS on Tuesday said industries polluting water resources will face the law.

“One of the challenges we had last year in Nairobi regeneration was blockages, abstractions, diversion and and buildings on top of rivers,” Chelugui said.

In May last year, the team identified more than 600 pollution points and acknowledged the urgency of the clean-up.

The government demolished dozens of buildings erected illegally.

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