Mike Sonko has declared that he will not be seeking re-election as Nairobi County governor in 2022.
Since his win against Evans Kidero in the August polls, the County boss has endured a turbulent time in a bid to fulfill his campaign pledges and clean up his predecessor’s mess. Worse still, a recent opinion poll ranked Nairobi County as the second worst performing county after Homa Bay.
However, Sonko is optimistic about delivering his promises and intends to leave a legacy before his tenure is over.
He spoke to a local daily about his challenges and achievements thus far.
Critics have questioned your performance. They say nothing is going on…
Look, it was impossible to shoot off from the blocks because I inherited a city office infested with corruption, where powerful cartels were deeply entrenched.
There were no functional systems. It has not been an easy task cleaning up the county administration.
I know my critics have been discrediting my performance, but my plea to Nairobians is to be more patient and watch us transform the city when systems are back in place.
A recent opinion poll ranked Nairobi County as the second worst performing county after Homa Bay…
You cannot rate a cosmopolitan county like Nairobi with a provincial county within 100 days. We don’t even receive the same shareable revenue within those days.
There are so much we have achieved since taking office, including increasing and streamlining revenue collection, curbing corruption and now we are closing in on the city cartels that I inherited from my predecessor who have messed this city.
Furthermore, we have also managed to pay off a bank overdraft of close to Sh1 billion accrued from the previous administration and are able to pay our staff salaries directly, which has seen the end of the constant downing of tools by county staff. Very soon, Nairobians will see the effects of these milestones.
Residents complain that hawkers and street families have taken control of the city since you became governor…
We are in the process of acquiring a number of city markets and establishments where we will resettle the hawkers and street families.
I’m currently engaging hawker representatives so that we can resolve the matter in an amicable manner. I am uncomfortable with the approach of previous administrations that employed violence to get hawkers from the central business district.
However, we will allow hawkers in some selected streets at night as well as on Sundays. It’s a system that is already working in cities like Bangkok and we will be rolling the pilot soon.
And street families?
Street children will also be relocated from the Central Business District and those aged over 18 years old who are involved in crime will face the law. We are also lighting up streets and installing security booths within city estates in collaboration with security agencies to deal with crime.
City Hall has always been a cash cow. How will you prevent theft of public funds?
A month ago, the Nairobi City County government launched a data centre to better service delivery in the city. We are working on building a digital city. As a result, we are now depositing close to a billion shillings in revenue collection every month, a sum that is more than double what the previous regime accounted for. We are advocating for stiff penalties against any administrator caught engaging in corruption and the digitised systems will help us achieve zero tolerance to the vice and significantly reduce corruption.
Some of the roads in the city are hopeless to say to say the least…
I blame the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) for awarding tenders to nonperforming companies.
We will have to work jointly with KURA and review all tenders awarded and undertake the procurement process together to avoid duplication of contracts and also control internal awarding of tenders that lead to shoddy roads.
But what are you doing as a government?
We have acquired two modern pothole patching machines that are already fixing roads within the city.
City Hall has always had ghost workers…
We have a staff biometric identification system that will aid in vetting and weeding out ghost workers. But the challenge is bigger than ghost workers.
We are already staffed with unskilled and aged personnel who either need training or a send-off package.
My aim is to reduce the wage bill by close to Sh100 million every month and put aside a Sh1.5 billion retirement package for the current staff. It’s time for us to also give fresh blood a chance to inject new energy and help us achieve our five-year agenda.
Fires are a big a problem in the city. What are you doing to ensure residents don’t lose lives or property?
I have dispatched 26 fire engines to each sub-county police station, including a crew that is on a 24-hour call to respond to emergencies.
Critics say going by what you’ve have done so far, you are unlikely to be re-elected as governor in 2022…
I want to leave a legacy because I will not be running for a second term. I have never run for the same office twice in my political life, so why should this be the first time? I will deliver and leave an efficient office for Nairobians then move on to the next assignment for Kenyans.
Will you run for president?
Don’t get ahead of yourself! I could even vie for a county assembly seat (MCA). I mean, that is one seat I have never contested for!
But for now, my focus is on working round-the-clock to ensure that we get Nairobi running like the world-class city it ought to be.