Mike Sonko was sworn in as governor of Nairobi amid the pomp of Uhuru Park and in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Why Mike Mbuvi Sonko might be the Governor that Nairobi has yearned for
Sonko will be looking to outshine Mr. Kidero who was thrown out of the seat for his lethargic approach to managing the complex Nairobi City.
The flamboyant and populist politician was propelled to the office thanks to his populist interventions that saw him become a favorite among many Nairobians and more at the grass root level.
Sonko, a name that connotes a man of limitless wealth, took advantage of the failings of an incumbent whose popularity was in freefall and whose government had failed to cater for the basic needs of the poor-food, shelter, healthcare and clothing.
The over 850,000 votes that he garnered in the August 8 elections were enough to see him trounce his opponent Evans Kidero.
He will be tasked with the challenge of running the country’s metropolis alongside his deputy Polycarp Igathe, a technocrat who Nairobi elites believe will be in effective control of policy, planning, and development while Sonko will mainly serve as the political head of the city.
Kidero, a corporate honcho, has been blamed for watching the city degenerate into a filthy, noisy and disorganized jungle ruled by cartels.
Nairobians say he failed to fix traffic gridlocks, clear choking garbage, seal nauseating burst sewer lines, open drains and streamline the chaotic public transport system.
Sonko's manifesto was anchored on seven pledges that in his first five-year term i.e. governance and security, housing and settlement, education and health, traffic management and transport, environment and sanitation, job creation and social inclusion.
The Jubilee politician seeks to light up all pedestrians’ sidewalks on all roads within Nairobi as well as implement the Nairobi Metropolitan Traffic Decongestion Plan in the Central Business District.
He has promised to build multi-storey and sunken car parks, park and ride stations along Thika Road, Waiyaki Way, Mombasa Road and Ngong Road, several footbridges, and designate specific drop and pick-up points for PSVs.
With regards to waste management, Sonko will look to introduce a new environment friendly way of engineering dumpsites that will lead to methane gas collection to power electricity generating plants.
Business licence fees and land rates will be slashed, mama mbogas will get a free pass while hawkers are optimistic that unlike the Kidero regime, the new administration will not harass them.
Additionally, Sonko plans to run corrupt cartels out of town, digitize service delivery as well as halt land grabbing.
Nairobians can also look forward to affordable housing plans with the governor-elect promising to provide incentives to investors in low-cost housing.
Regarding job creation, his government will allocate a quarter of county tenders to youth, women and persons with disabilities so as to generate more jobs for them.
Even then, Sonko ought to ensure that a number of his plans don’t fall short of sound economics.
For instance, he has promised to reduce the daily parking fees from Sh300 to Sh150. This would halve City Hall’s biggest income stream to Sh1 billion annually, leaving many to question how the new leadership proposes to fill the revenue hole.
Mike Sonko seems to have hit the ground running having stepped up efforts to clean up the city just hours after clinching the Nairobi Governor seat.
The philanthropic politician is seen as a leader who connects with people not through talk and political rhetoric, but through providing a solution to the real, tangible, and critical issues that affect all citizens of Nairobi.
Nairobians are ready to pay up the levies in the hope that they will get clean water, shelter and better sanitation, better traffic management system, improved security among other things.
Sonko’s administration should see that all this is implemented and that Nairobi regains its lost glory of being “The City Under the Sun.”
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