Sakaja hits and misses in his one year as governor
Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja is this week set to mark one year in office, having chalked up a mixed scorecard of successes and failures.
Sakaja, who has had a fair share of challenges since he took office, continues to walk a tight rope, balance between the interests of Azimio, which has more MCAs in the County Assembly on the one hand and Kenya Kwanza, which formed government after the August 2022 election.
To his credit, Sakaja has increased own source revenue that the county collects to Sh10.6 billion. According to data from the county Finance Department, Sh10.6 billion is the highest achieved by City Hall in the last five years.
In the 2021-22 year, the county collected Sh8.9 billion while Sh9.7 billion was raised in 2020-21.
The lowest collected was Sh8.5 billion in 2019-20, which was half the targeted Sh17.31 billion.
The 2018-19 financial year was no better, as the revenue was Sh10.17 billion, Sh5 billion less than the target of Sh15.29 billion.
Nairobi has not met its revenue targets since 2013.
The highest amount ever collected was Sh11.71 billion in 2015-16, which was still far short of the Sh15.3 billion target.
During his first year in office, Sakaja launched an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital, reducing numerous referrals to other facilities, especially the already congested Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
The initial capacity launched is a four-bed unit that serves the densely populated Embakasi Central constituency as well as the neighbouring sub-counties, hence easing the burden of KNH.
During the launch, he said the plan was to have ICU/HDU facilities in all Level Five hospitals, so as to cater for patients referred from surrounding lower level facilities. The pledge is yet to be fulfilled. However, the county government also completed a three-bed renal unit and a blood bank.
This will be the second one in Nairobi, with the first renal unit in a county-owned facility launched in 2019 at the Mbagathi Hospital.
On education, the county government has made progress with 10 kitchens in the final stages of completion as part of a school feeding programme targeting learners in public institutions. These are expected to deliver meals for 250,000 learners in public primary and nursery schools in the capital as promised during the launch presided over by President William Ruto in Roysambu Constituency.
Parents and guardians will be expected to pay Sh5 per plate per child.
According to Sakaja, the programme aims at cushioning poor and vulnerable parents from the current economic shocks while keeping children in schools.
The end game is to increase enrolment and transition to higher learning institutions in public primary schools and ECDs across 17 sub-counties in Nairobi.
The kitchens will be constructed in Baba Dogo Primary School, Bidii Primary School, Kwa Njenga Primary, Farasi Lane Primary, Muthangari Primary, Kayole One Primary, Njiru Primary, Toi Primary, Roysambu Primary and Racecourse Primary School.
“The school feeding Industrial Area mega kitchen facility will provide at least 60,000 plates per day to back-up schools that might fall short of the required meals,” Sakaja said during the launch of the initiative.
Despite the successes Sakaja has however had a fair share of troubles, including the ongoing investigation by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over payment of legal firms.
DCI says the nine listed firms are believed to have been used in a money laundering scheme and fraudulent payments.
In a letter dated July 21, the Director of DCI’s Investigations Bureau (IB) David Birech wrote to Nairobi Governor Johnson.
Sakaja demanding a list of tender documents, requisitions by user department, award contracts, delivery and inspection reports and all local purchase orders issued to profiled nine companies believed to have been used to siphon the money.
“This office is investigating a case of suspected money laundering in which Nairobi County Government is alleged to have fraudulently made payments to companies which did not render services,” Birech wrote.
“We further request to assign officers who have knowledge of the various processes listed above to assist us with information on their roles and record statements to that effect”.
The payments have even led to the dramatic sacking of former county attorney Lydia Kwamboka.
Kwamboka said she received her sacking after she appeared before the County Assembly Justice and Legal Committee where she expressed her frustrations by some officials from the Finance Department.
Away from the legal battles, a walk across the Central Business District CBD will also reveal that Sakaja has been unable to deal with congestion largely caused by proliferation of hawkers who operate haphazardly from pavements, inconveniencing pedestrians.
People Daily team carried out a spot check across major streets within CBD to assess the situation of hawkers’ invasion in public places. It established that Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya Street and River Road were among the areas and walkways most affected by hawkers.
Kimathi street has also been affected as hawkers spread to sell their commodities even as City Council askaris patrol around with their old rusty vehicles. Sakaja also has problems with garbage collection, which has turned many residential areas in Nairobi into eyesores due to lack of proper structures to ensure residents dispose waste responsibly and county personnel collect the garbage regularly.