Sakaja’s plan to split Nairobi into boroughs lauded
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has insisted that he will go on with his plan to divide Nairobi into five boroughs in a bid to take services close to residents.
The plan entails creating five mini administrative zones in the capital city which is the municipality concept borrowed from the United States. New York City is split into boroughs.
A borough in the US states is a unit of local government or other administrative division below the level of the state.
The proposal has won the support of various stakeholders among them former Town Clerk Philip Kisia and Urban Development expert Daniel Mwaniki.
Kariobangi South MCA Robert Mbatia, who has also served on the Finance Budget and Appropriations Committee, says it’s a plan worth exploiting.
According to Kisia, the plan can boost service delivery and create more jobs if well managed. He observes that this has for long been a long-term plan for Nairobi and that giving it a try is a welcome venture.
“Why not if the underlying purpose is to ease service delivery, create jobs and make it more practical for residents to participate in decision making at the lower level in our estates,” Kisia said.
In his proposal, Sakaja believes that dividing the city into five boroughs will be a good start in the right direction but this could be subject to expert analysis and public participation forums which means the units could be more or less five.
If this comes to pass, each of the five namely east, central, west, north and south will be headed by city managers.
The big question is if this is practical and worth the commitment considering other factors like corruption and the cartel network that has always invaded any new framework put in place to change the service delivery unit at City Hall.
According to Mwaniki, the Urban Development expert, this will only work if more accessible and transparent safeguard measures are put in place.
His warning to the governor is to avoid a situation where corruption is further devolved to these boroughs.
“My assumption is that apart from the City Manager, you are going to have several people working under him or her and this is where the problem lies if they are not properly guided on what they are supposed to do,” he said.
If the US model is adopted in full, it means the boroughs will have various officers in charge of various functions like Revenue Collection, Garbage Collection, Sewer Management, Water Connection and other services related to trading.
But Sakaja’s model probably entails having City Borough Managers who will report to the Chief County Manager who is expected to be Deputy Governor.
Mbatia says optimising revenue collection with subsequent service delivery that reflects value for money should be the denominator in such changes.
“It is good to explore it if it brings more value and dignity to the people in terms of service delivery especially if you are going to connect every small business at the estate level to the tax bracket,” he said.
Currently, the county has 17 Sub-County officers but most services remain domiciled at City Hall.