Kenya: Badi's Grand Dream for Nairobi City

8 January 2021

Since he took over the leadership of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) about 10 months ago, Major-General Mohamed Badi says the city county has recorded a major turnaround in terms of services to residents.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Nation, Mr Badi said roads have been recarpeted, households connected to clean water, city estates and the central business district cleared of garbage, hospitals rehabilitated and much more done. Mr Badi says the city is on its way to becoming a modern green city.

His vision, he said, includes de-congesting the city in an ambitious plan that, if implemented, will lock matatus out of the CBD, create additional walkways for pedestrians and cyclists, put up benches in strategic positions for the elderly and the sick, plant trees along the highways, erect street lights and rehabilitate public parks.

The army general also wants all houses and homes in the metropolis connected to clean and affordable running water and to see the garbage menace in the estates and the CBD dealt with once and for all. This, he added, will necessitate a redesign of the entire city sewer system.

Referral facility

Mr Badi also wants Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) transformed into a world-class teaching and referral facility dedicated to research and learning, with patients only seen on referral.

The sick, Mr Badi said, will first seek services in hospitals the county plans to either rehabilitate or build in the next one-and-a-half years.

But even with these plans, the NMS has come under heavy criticism over delayed projects and failure to meet its own deadlines.

The first deadline it missed involved the relocation of buses and matatus from the CBD.

Other issues included garbage clearing in estates and other parts of the city, repair of roads, especially the service lanes in the city centre, street and traffic lights as well as road signs.

Mr Badi, however, blames most delays on numerous court battles the NMS has been fighting, as well as leadership wrangles, which blocked access to funds from the National Treasury.

Mr Badi said they have also been grappling with tedious and bureaucratic procurement processes, which have delayed materials needed to complete projects.

"We've been able to do most of the major roads within the CBD, occasionally going out of the CBD to clear certain roads that have been completely in a mess.

"This service is quite expensive, and so we are doing our best to deliver it within the budget provided.

"We have occasionally asked for more from Treasury in order to meet the residents' needs in the transport sector," he said.

The overall plan, Mr Badi said, is to create a city where one, if they so wish, can walk from the CBD to their house without interference, and in cases where they need to cross the ever-busy roads, elaborate zebra-crossing points and other transport management system tools will be available.

Broken sewer

Besides decongesting the city, the NMS also wants to connect all homes within the capital -- including those in informal settlements -- to clean and affordable tap water as well as redesign the broken sewer system.

Mr Badi said that water has been made available to most homes, especially in the informal settlements, where the commodity has been scarce and costly.

The NMS, he added, has dug 93 boreholes across the city and plans to dig 100 more as well as buy 20 water bowsers.

"Previously, you would find a poor mwananchi buying the 20-litre jerrycan at between Sh5 and Sh20, which is an extremely high price for water. For you and I who have the Nairobi water tap running, if you open the tap and fill a 20-litre water jerrycan, you will get a bill of less than Sh2."

On healthcare, he revealed plans to build 27 hospitals across the metropolis, which will offer free healthcare services to the public.

Thirteen of them, he said, will be level two facilities, the other 14 level three, while the existing level four centres will be upgraded to level five.

"Once these hospitals have been completed, we shall bar people from going to KNH [except] on referral. We want to make KNH a referral and teaching hospital so that it becomes more of a university where doctors do their post-graduate education," he said.

"We're also installing smart lights to save on electricity as well as LED lights, which consume less power, as part of the wider street-lighting project," Mr Badi said.

He added: "We're also reclaiming public parks, the latest being the Michuki Park, as well as cleaning Nairobi River and others."

Bubbling with optimism despite the huge setbacks and teething problems, Mr Badi draws inspiration from his army background.

"In the military, failure is not an option. Every day, as the Japanese say, you should always Kaizen. You should always improve, make things better. What you do today should not be your step tomorrow. It should be a better step, and that is the way we can bequeath to future generations a proper green city," he said.

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