Sunday 5 August 2012

Letter from Kenya :My words with Francis Mwongela

 Francis Mwongela

The Nairobi city council and its askaris are a shame to the Nation and a direct contrast on Kenya’s way to vision 2030

The Nairobi city hall is one of the places I visited a few weeks ago and hated the place with passion. You get to the entrance and there is a lot of discomfort, uneasiness and all manner of rubbish. It was my first visit and I had my expectations. According to the standards they set for the Nairobians on cleanliness, respect for the by-laws they set, the no tolerance to corruption labels you will spot on park attendants in yellow aprons, as an ordinary citizen, you would expect that they practice what they preach
to the latter.

The first thing I noted in the city hall is the horrible walls with peeling paints, cobwebs and cockroaches, lagging internet connection and electricity wires looking at your, the horrible odor generated by ‘I don’t know what’ dirty sanitation, the list is endless. This does not end at the reception. The corridors of the stairs are a hell on earth you would never wish to be associated with. We moved up the building on the staircase. You would faint I tell you.

The reception on the 3rd and fourth floor is the face of gross shame and embarrassment. Maybe this was the welcome note of what we were to meet inside. I decided to start castigating them once I met the lady at the reception when she kindly did show me a ugly, dirty and old couch to sit on as my friend got into the office to request for a space in town to host a promotional ‘thing’ but unfortunately there was no ‘space’ for him in the whole Nairobi. Maybe it is because he did not ‘talk well’.

I am not attacking the city council nor am I not. Why is it that they must be involved in nonsense drama with hawkers along Tom Mboya Street, Ronald Ngala and River Road every day? That we innocent Kenyans must experience teargases everyday in the evening?

I talked to one hawker and he tells me what they do is just drama. They map and execute these fights with the city council askaris and execute them tactfully for PR purposes. This follows the vicious cycle of corruption in the city hall. Recently a city council askari brutally hit a hawker along the Nairobi streets with a huge baton and the hawker was in critical condition in hospital. This kind of uncivilized behavior is part of the big nonsense that needs not to be tolerated.

We cannot have local authorities whose authorities lie in the nonsense of corruption, inhumanity, brutality and uncouth behaviors.
The ‘local arrangements’ between the hawkers and the city council to picket and get involved in running skirmishes is out of fashion. I think the council has the muscle to get permanent solutions to the hawkers littering the streets. But if they continue to enjoy bribes fro the poor hawkers then why do they have to subject us ordinary citizens to teargas canisters every evening?

If the Nairobi city council has nothing else to do at city hall, why can’t they make tidy their offices, perfume their corridors so that what you get in the corridors will not reverberate the corruption menace in the hall? Unashamedly, the workers in the hall will address you in their mother tongues and you wonder if that is their kitchen.

The city council of Nairobi I feel needs reforms or banned. Do they have an ISO certificate? I guess they do. Whoever issued it should rethink revocation till they shape up for the best standards and service delivery to citizens.

The writer is a Media Consultant and Journalism Lecturer in Nairobi 

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