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A new city for Sh33 trillion

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The government has launched an ambitious Sh33 trillion strategy to spearhead the upgrading of Nairobi into a world-class Metropolis.

President Mwai Kibaki initiated the Nairobi Metro 2030 Strategy on Monday and challenged city planners to work with other development partners to actualise the plan within the set deadlines.

The President challenged all stakeholders to dedicate themselves in achieving the dream: “What we have done today is to introduce you to the new city. Do not seat behind waiting for something to happen around you join in and make it happen.”

“I appeal to our development partners, civil society and the private sector to support our efforts in transforming our cities into decent places in which to live and work,” the Head of State said during the launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

The plan proposes to expand the metropolitan area from the earlier radius of 40 to 100 kilometres and to incorporate 13 independent local authorities. It also proposes to re-brand the city as a product and tourist destination.

Much of the funding for the project is expected to come from Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Nairobi Metropolitan Development (NMD)Minister Mutula Kilonzo said during the launch that plans were under way to draft a Public-Private Partnership Bill to formalise the partnerships.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved the policy, legal and institutional framework for PPPs in the country. The framework provides for the modalities under which the private sector can undertake – for a specified period of time – to provide a service or goods for the benefit of the public.

The Metropolis will involve more than 15 million residents of Nairobi, Thika, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu East and West.  The proposal to extend the radius of the Metropolis has faced resistance from independent local authorities who fear being swallowed in the process.

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Although Mr Kilonzo has held consultations with all the civic leaders of the authorities to be affected some disquiet still exists.

The government created NMD early this year to revamp and market the city which is a shadow of its glorious days when it was known as the Green City in the Sun. Mr Kilonzo said a draft Metropolitan Bill to guide the development of the city would be tabled in Parliament early next year. The Bill, he said would include the input of all stakeholders to ensure ownership and smooth implementation.

Mr Kilonzo faces the challenge of developing a strategy to address infrastructural problems in a city where dwellers pay levies for services rarely rendered. Raw sewage, uncollected litter, a public transport mess, pot-holed roads and numerous problems in slums are key issues the minister will have to address.

During the launch of the blueprint, Mr Kilonzo said the plan would help address traffic chaos, sanitation and the introduction of a 24-hour economy among others.

“Our aim is to deploy world class infrastructure and utilities supportive of world class living,” he assured.

Key blocks of Metro 2030 are world-class roads, a Metropolitan rail system, an elaborate litter disposal and recycling plant, a Metropolitan Police Unit and other projects like the upgrading of the Kenyatta International Airport. It also hopes to provide business incentives to attract investors.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga asked city planners to move fast to ensure that the city reclaims its lost glory. Mr Odinga raised concerns that the city was in a sorry state despite recent efforts by City Hall. “In recent decades Nairobi has degenerated into a city wallowing in chaos,” he said.

He also faulted the Nairobi City Council for increasing parking fees as a way of de-congesting the city.  He said it was wrong to impose punitive levies yet the city did not provide efficient public transport similar to that found in cities like London which runs an efficient bus and underground rail network.  As a result it is expensive to drive into central London.

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