When Nairobi residents went to vote on August 8, 2017, they were a fed up lot. They were fed up with the then incumbent governor Evans Kidero, who had been voted in with so much promise. At the time, Nairobi was choking in its own filth.
Garbage was everywhere, bursting sewers were the order of the day, desperate SMEs, many on the verge of collapse, were camping every day in the corridors of City Hall seeking to find somebody, anybody, who could assist them get payments that had been stuck for months and were nowhere near being settled. Hawkers were strewn all over town, with their loudmouths and obstruction hampering the smooth running of the city.
Traffic jams had clogged up traffic, reducing movement to a crawl. Residents suffered from perennial water rationing that was not letting up despite the onset of rains and sinking of emergency boreholes. Corruption was at an all-time high in City Hall, and PSVs were a law unto themselves. Nairobi was literally grinding to a halt.
It was against this backdrop that then Nairobi senator, Mike Mbuvi Sonko, waded in, promising to deliver city residents from this morass. A weary populace embraced this supposed saviour, and he was elected governor with a resounding win! Sonko was then sworn in, and Nairobi sat back and waited for the promised transformation of the city, the restoration of Nairobi back to its former glory, no less.
The first 100 days passed with little to show — but Nairobians still kept the faith. It is now five months down the line and counting. What is the state of Nairobi? Nairobi is choking in its own filth.
Garbage is everywhere, bursting sewers are the order of the day (Muthurwa is the epicenter), desperate SMEs, those still surviving, are still camping at City Hall looking for anybody to assist them get paid (the governor claims he is verifying pending bills —a whole five months later). This is the type of situation that has bred rampant corruption in City Hall, and clearly it is not going away!
The traffic jams, if anything, have got worse, PSVs rule the roost, and are still a law unto themselves. By the time Sonko was elected, the country was receiving very good rains, but water rationing in Nairobi continues, and nobody from City Hall talks about the issue any longer.
Hawkers are literally suffocating the city. After getting elected, the governor all but disappeared from the public — he is no longer seen anywhere, and especially where work needs to be done.
Media reports have it that he spends his time holed up in a Nairobi hotel which, it is claimed, he wants to buy. Surely, the governor’s priorities cannot be that subverted!
Nairobians expected to see Sonko leading from the front in tackling the problems that bedevil the city. As is his wont, they expected to see him in the middle of chain gangs clearing garbage, opening up clogged drainages, and unblocking sewers. They expected to see him leading his marshalls and traffic police in shepherding traffic to enhance flow and reduce jams.
They have been sorely disappointed. In other words, nothing has changed. This is despite the fact that the governor and his team enjoy enormous goodwill from the national government, something he is yet to use to the advantage of city residents.
The question that many in the city are asking is, has the new governor added any value really to the governance of the metropolis? Governor Sonko needs to very quickly vault the steep learning curve he has brought into this very high office. The omens are not good.
The governor has resorted to blaming cartels for his failure to live up to the high expectations he generated when campaigning. When Nairobians voted him in, one of the considerations was that his gung-ho and frontal approach to issues stood the best chance of breaking up cartels that have held City Hall hostage. He now seems to cringe from confronting them.
It does not help either when the city is awash with rumours that he is unable to forge a common front with his deputy. As team leader, you have to be able to marshall your troops and deploy them according to their capacities and with clear terms of reference and targets.
From all appearances, it looks like it is going to be another very long five years for Nairobi residents. Maybe, the governor is content to be a one-term governor. If current indications are anything to go by, Kidero’s tenure will be a walk in the park in comparison with what Nairobians will endure in the next five years. So, again, why did Nairobi residents vote out Kidero and replace him with Sonko? —[email protected]