Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has insisted that he will go on with his plan to divide Nairobi in five boroughs in a bid to take services close to residents.
The plan entails creating five mini administrative zones in the capital city which is the municipality concept borrowed from the United States where New York City is split into boroughs.
A borough in the US states is a unit of local government or other administrative division below the level of the state.
The proposal is already attracting support from various stakeholders among them former Town Clerk Philip Kisia and Urban Development expert Daniel Mwaniki.
Kariobangi South Member of County Assembly Robert Mbatia who has also served as the Finance Budget and Appropriations Committee says it’s a move worth exploiting.
According to Kisia, the plan can boost service delivery and create more jobs if well managed.He observes that this has for long been a long term plan for Nairobi and that giving it a try is a welcome venture.
” Why not if the underlying purpose is to ease service delivery,create jobs and make it more practical for residents to participate in decision making at the lower level in our estates,” Kisia said.
Governor Sakaja in his proposal during the campaigns,believes that dividing the city in five boroughs will be a good start in the right direction but this could be subject to expert analysis and public participation forums which means the units could be more or less the five.
If this comes to pass,each of the five namely east, central, west, north and south will be headed by city managers whom he will appoint.
The big question is if this is practical and worth the commitment considering other factors like corruption and the cartel network that has always invaded any new framework put in place to change the service delivery unit at City Hall.
According to Mr Mwaniki the Urban Development expert, this will only work if more accessible and transparent safeguard measures are put in place.His warning to the governor is to avoid a situation where corruption is further devolved to this boroughs.
” My assumption is that apart from the City Manager, you are going to have several people work under him or her and this is where the problem lies if they are not properly guided on what they are supposed to do,” he said.
If the U.S model is adopted in full,it means that the boroughs will have various officers in charge of various functions like Revenue Collection,Garbage Collection, Sewer Management, Water Connection and other services related to trade.
But Sakaja’s model probably entails having City Borough Managers who will report to the Chief County Manager who is expected to be Deputy Governor Njoroge Muchiri.
Having been elected for the fourth time as Kariobangi South MCA, Robert Mbatia opines that optimising revenue collection with subsequent service delivery that reflects value for money should be the denominator in such changes.
” It is good to explore it if it brings more value and dignity to the people in terms of service delivery especially if you are going to connect every small business at the estate level to the County’s tax bracket,” he said.
Currently,the county has 17 Sub County officers but most services remain domiciled at City Hall.Aquisation of licenses remains the biggest challenge.
Kabiro MCA Clarence Omunga is keen to see how that will work in conjunction with the Ward Development Fund which he wants effected by the new administration. His prayer is that the new units will not take away the power to administer the WDF.
” A good move but how about the WDF which should be managed by MCAs,? Clarence paused the question adding that he is optimistic that these funds are not put under the new administrative units.
Furthermore, Governor Sakaja has promised to revive Estate Management Systems that will recognize and give roles to Estate Associations which means areas that do not have such systems will have to orgarnise to have representation.
Sakaja’s grand plans are expected to be on the priority list once the assembly kicks of it’s operations and the County Executive in place.