Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s pledge to transform Nairobi into a thriving metropolis and business hub continues to face challenges with various groups clearly working against his vision.
Away from the political scene, four groups appear to be keen on ensuring that Sonko's first term in office fails to achieve what he promised to Nairobi residents.
The chaos and confusion on Nairobi streets can be attributed to hawkers who literally take over the streets, shouting to attract clients. Every evening, the cat and mouse chase between county askaris and hawkers who invade Nairobi streets is a common site. The hawkers spread their wares on pedestrian walkways and even on roads, leaving pedestrians with no option but to put their lives in danger by sharing roads with speeding vehicles.
Each time hawkers are relocated from city streets, a new lot comes to take up their places.
The county government has stepped up efforts clean up the city by collecting garbage and has embarked on an ambitious beautification project. Small scale traders are emerging as a major obstacle in Sonko’s quest to make the city clean. Nairobi’s growing population has attracted many small scale traders keen on making a living.
From fruit vendors to food kiosks, a good number of small scale traders do not pay levies or collude with corrupt county officials hence deny the county millions of shillings needed for development in form of revenue.
Most of them do not pay for garbage disposal and dump waste by the roadside with the garbage pilling up beside roads and blocking drainage.
Outer ring road in Nairobi’s Eastlands is perhaps the best example of rare impunity with stalls erected on pedestrian walks and roads, blocking an entire lane just after Naivas Supermarket in Donholm.
That the county government is keen on addressing traffic jam menace is not in doubt.
Miguna Miguna predicted that with Sonko at the helm, Nairobi streets and almost the entire city would turn into a matatu stage and parking lot. This prediction is close to becoming a reality with unruly matatu touts and drivers turning almost every street into a stage.
A walk along Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets will reveal vehicles parked dangerously in the middle of city streets picking or dropping passengers, causing traffic jams that could be avoided with just a little discipline and courtesy. The situation is not different from almost all city streets.
Although Sonko’s administration has expressed every intention to deal with the situation and address the traffic jam nightmare, they seem not to get it right.
Corrupt county government officials
These are the enemies within the system and are directly responsible for the chaos and lawlessness in Nairobi. In exchange for bribes, they release petty offenders and hawkers. Best known for reigning terror on hawkers, county askaris deny the county government millions in revenue with packing fees, business permits and taxes ending up in their pockets.
Prior to the 2017 elections, Sonko was popular among Nairobi's low income earners (popularly called hustlers). Interestingly, it is this group that is frustrating his efforts to transform the city.