The issues in managing transition to Kenyan counties

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Under the Constitution, the governance of Nairobi and indeed all counties will definitely have to change. The residents expect better service delivery from the new system of governance. The expectations are extremely at the apex as citizens beam with hope and optimism.

We agreed to change the governance of this country and that change is definitely inevitable.

There are various issues to contend with that have all got to do with the changeover from a system the supreme central governance structure to a devolved structure.

LEADERSHIP

In Nairobi, the Mayor is currently the political leader at City Hall with the Chief Executive being the Town Clerk.  Under them lies an entire infrastructure of staff comprising more than 15 departments all working towards provision of services.

This leadership will change after electing a governor and a senator in 2012.  New structures of a county government must be worked out with proper organisational structures .The transition from the current leadership to the envisaged one without a vacuum must be managed.

On the upcountry counties we have heated discussions regarding the abolishment (or not) of provincial administration system and replacement of their roles with that of county governments to capture the intended spirit of devolution.  What the proponents of these arguments are not telling us is how to transit through the changes smoothly without risking mayhem and insecurity and setting up proper and sound structures that will genuinely take over.

SERVICES

In the urban areas, councils provide garbage collection, cleansing, licensing, markets, planning and development control, water and sanitation, housing and social services amongst others.

Even though the service level provision under the councils have been wanting, citizens would expect a seamless provision of services as the new county governments take over the running of these services amongst other added on myriad of responsibilities as enumerated in the fourth schedule.

FINANCES, REVENUE COLLECTION AND ACCOUNTING

The City Council of Nairobi and other local authorities collect massive amounts of revenues on a daily basis and operate fat bank accounts. They have overdrafts and loan agreements. With the entry of new county governments the collection of revenues and accounting for the expenditure of that revenue will be entirely the work of the Governor and the executive committee.

It is critical that we think early enough and obtain solutions on ways and means of ensuring an early and organised changeover in this aspect.
 If this is not done we shall not avoid a circus of diversion of funds to personal accounts and a looting melee. There are those waiting for that confusion and Kenyans must be vigilant enough to avert such a situation.

PROPERTY INVENTORY-REAL AND MOVABLE

The councils and local governments including provincial administration have a huge inventory of property including developed and vacant land. Other property includes vehicles, furniture and equipment. Those that belong to the central government will continue to belong to the national governments. The issue at hand here is how and who will take over the council\’s property.

It is therefore evident that if there is a transitional gap, lots of pilferage of public assets will occur.

In summary it is critical that this issue be discussed widely and intensive consultations held as we approach implementation.  Structures need to be in place before the 2012 general elections.

(The writer is the chairman of the Nairobi Central Business District Association)

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