, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – Some six years after devolution was implemented and billions of shillings channelled to counties, a cross-section of Kenyans “want a signal” on how to deal with their leaders who promised heaven during campaigns but have delivered little.
While most leaders used well-scripted manifestos and graphics during campaigns, Kenyans interviewed by Capital FM News on Monday said delivery is on the contrary.
And just like South Africa’s Julius Malema, “they want a signal.”
As devolution conference kicked off Monday in Kakamega County, those interviewed showed signs of fatigue of what they say is their only hope to have equitable distribution of resources across the country.
Top in their list of worries is the endemic corruption always captured in Auditors General reports and nepotism in the employment of county staff.
In Nairobi, they say Governor Mike Sonko will need to do a lot to rekindle their dwindling hopes, more so in fixing areas ailing East Africa’s largest city and a continental hub like an archaic drainage system, traffic congestion, poor roads and crater-like potholes right within the Central Business District.
“The problem with our leaders is that once elected, they don’t leave their offices. They want to remote control things while in the office, like (Governor) Sonko; Why can’t he engage us in finding a solution in some of the pressing issues ailing the city?” Simon Ng’ang’a, a matatu driver said.
From his position, Ng’ang’a would pinpoint tens of potholes along Moi Avenue, that have shattered the prominence of the person it is named after – retired President Daniel arap Moi.
And as established in a spot check by Capital FM News, the road is in a mess and the situation worsens when it rains.
“We are grappling with huge loans but maintenance cost has also ballooned due to the dilapidated roads within the city… not even bus terminus have been spared. Was devolution not meant to address such issues?” Ng’ang’a wondered.
Others say there is an improvement in terms of service delivery in some sectors like health, but they are worried that the gains are too meagre compared with the billions of shillings channelled to counties.
“Nairobi needs to work on sanitation since it is really pathetic. This is not the city we want to see if we compare with other cities. We need a city where we have clean water, pavements…it is really a mess,” Enoch Wambua said.
Wambua is also angered by the housing problem in Nairobi, more so on ensuring the rights standards are enforced.
Hundreds of lives have been lost after buildings in areas like Huruma where poorly built house still stand.
“Housing is also a menace in this city. There is a body that needs to deal with that and we will be good to go,” Wambua said.
Pastor Jacinta Nzilani, also a city resident says, “devolution is just a name. It is not working in so many areas.”
“Many youths have no jobs while the few available slots at the County Governments are given to the chosen few.”
Nairobi, being the seat of power usually receives the lion share of National Budget, with Governor Sonko lately saying collection of revenue has drastically improved, but according to those interviewed, that is not yet reflected on the ground.
In his numerous posts about the city, Governor Sonko admits that a lot need to be done, to reclaim the lost glory of the “Green City in the Sun.”
“Fixing our infrastructure remains my top most priority as I continue to implement my promises to Nairobians,” the Governor said on Sunday.
“We are constructing and rehabilitating all county roads that are in a poor state to provide a safe and secure environment for development. The construction of new Donholm Road is almost complete. The 1.4-kilometer road will be upgraded to bitumen standard to ease traffic flow. It includes the development of walkways and construction of the drainage system and Street Lighting.”
The County Government has also embarked on flowers and grass planting exercise along major roads, as part of their beautification programme.
The county also plans to take 300 people for benchmarking in Rwanda to learn how to keep Nairobi organized and clean.
These will include boda-boda operators, matatu crews, and small-scale traders but some city residents think the trip is unnecessary.