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Nairobi residents voice mixed reactions on county takeover as validation hearings kickoff

City Hall, the Nairobi County Government headquarters. /CFM-FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Residents of Nairobi County expressed mixed reactions on the transfer of key functions from the Nairobi County government to the national government, during a public participation forum that kicked off on Wednesday.

The public participation takes place in 17 sub-counties in the week ending Friday, March 6, 2020.

In Dagoretti sub-county, residents turned up in large numbers to air their views, with a lot of questions on how the takeover will be implemented.

Joseph Andemba from Waithaka Ward is among city residents who believe the transfer of the functions to the national government was long overdue, and is the right move.

“I think this a wise decision because there are many services that we are lacking in our wards yet we are being told devolution was meant to bring development in the devolved units,” he said.

Others like Monicah Njeri felt the transfer of functions to national government was a admission of failure on part of the Governor Mike Sonko who they entrusted with the responsibility to govern the city.

She also faulted the Members of the Nairobi County Assembly for failing in their oversight mandate.

“We elected the Governor with a lot of hopes because he really had a good manifesto, this is a let down to the many Nairobi residents who elected him, it’s also unfortunate that our MCAs have been lying to us yet they know the Governor wouldn’t deliver,” said Njeri, a resident of Ngando Ward.

The residents across various wards also took time to highlight the areas they want the national government to focus on.

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They asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to prioritize completion of stalled projects some of which date back to the previous administration and payment of pending bills.

They also called for the cascading of licensing, issuance of permits, and issuance of birth and death certificates to the 17 wards.

The residents also sought to know how the two levels of government would work together, and whether the Nairobi County Assembly will exercise oversight on functions ceded to national government.

The question on whether Governor Sonko will still receive a full salary despite having ceded his duties also arose.

Others like John Kiarie expressed displeasure with the transfer of functions saying the ongoing public participation forums were an exercise in futility as the agreement has already been signed.

Kiarie said the forums were a ploy to have members sanitize the transfer of functions their having been no consultations prior to the signing of the deed of transfer

“Why do public participation when you have already done gazzeting?” he wondered.

Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Principal Secretary Micah Powon from the Ministry of Devolution however assured Nairobi residents that all their views will be considered, to ensure smooth delivery of services.

“The need to have this exercise it to have your views taken and be sure that whatever you have raised will be put into consideration,” said Powon.

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He said the ministry will provide a detailed response on all the queries they had raised regarding the takeover.

Powon also stated that Nairobi County Assembly will continue to oversight and legislate, adding that not all functions have been transferred to the national government.

He noted that Nairobi County has 14 functions, and only four had been handed over to the national government.

Sonko ceded health services, transport, planning and development services and public works, utilities and ancillary services.

On revenue collection, Powon said that Nairobi County appointed Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as the principal agent for overall revenue collection.

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