NAIROBI, April 16 – Newly appointed Ministers to the Grand Coalition Cabinet continued taking up their respective offices Wednesday with promises of good things ahead, amidst high expectations from the Kenyan public.
The two Deputy Prime Ministers, Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta, were at Jogoo House Wednesday morning where Mudavadi took over the Local Government docket from his Trade counterpart Kenyatta, who had moved after a brief three and a half month stint.
Mudavadi made a pledge to focus on improved service delivery and infrastructure.
He said: “We have seen Nairobi grow rapidly but we also have to acknowledge that there are some aspects that the various entities within it have not kept pace with. And this pressure, everybody can see it, either in terms of congestion or a very dilapidated sanitation.”
Kenyatta challenged his successor to carry out the much needed reforms in the Ministry, key among them being the review of Cap 265 of the Local Government Act to empower the local authorities and allow the direct election of Mayors and Council Chairmen.
This suggestion was featured in both the Bomas and Wako Drafts Constitution and was expected to be a reality before last year’s general election, but that was not to be.
Kenyatta also mentioned decongesting Nairobi city as another big challenge that needs urgent attention. Early this year the government ordered the relocation of all public service vehicles on Jogoo Road to the Muthurwa Bus Terminus and hawkers to the Muthurwa Market in a bid to clear the clutter in the city centre.
The Ministry has also set in place plans to build another 12 facilities similar to Muthurwa in the city, a project whose implementation Kenyatta urged Mudavadi to spearhead.
Other challenges included insecurity in the cities, corruption in the councils, poor sanitation and debts amounting to over Sh13 billion.
Mudavadi hinted that major reforms are in the pipeline.
He said: “Our local authorities will require a lot of reforms in many ways. They may require changes in the way they run their functions and even some of the individuals that drive certain entities.”
He also promised to work together with the new Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry that is headed by Mutula Kilonzo, to develop the capital city.
The deputy premiers promised that the coalition government would work together in unity.
“It is time for us to put our differences aside and focus on the critical issues affecting our people; it is not time for political bickering,” said Kenyatta
Mudavadi added: “This is a question of collective responsibility and we will have to exchange notes”
Kilonzo, on his part, pledged to transform the capital city into a 24-hour economy and a strategic business hub in the region.
“Jomo Kenyatta Airport is only five and a half hours from the farthest point in Africa. I notice that from those capitals people flock to Europe and America for shopping. My dream is to bring them to Nairobi,” Mutula stated.
Elsewhere, the new Labour Minister John Munyes pledged to market the Kenyan labour force abroad to help create job opportunities for unemployed Kenyans.
“This could be marketed from our foreign offices and then down here we can identify qualified Kenyans. It’s our role in this ministry and I want to encourage our officers to take it as the priority.”
The Minister also committed to ensure the smooth implementation of all labour laws, especially the five that were passed last year.
These include the Labour Institutions Act 2007, Labour Relations Act 2007, the Employment Act 2007, the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, and Work Injuries Benefit Act 2007.