Inside Nairobi’s new boroughs that will cost taxpayers Sh400 million

Nairobi City is set to join other cities divided into administrative units across the world such as New York and London after the county government executive approved plans of dividing the city into six small administrative units known as boroughs at a cost of Sh400 million.

A borough is a small administrative unit within a local government whose main purpose is to decentralize services offered by the local government.

The county will be divided into six boroughs namely the Central, Southern, South Eastern, Eastern, Western and Northern. The criteria used to create the boroughs according to the county is clustering of each of the 17 sub-counties in such a way that each borough covers at least three of them.

According to the Nairobi County government Acting Chief Officer for Boroughs and Sub County Administration Lydia Mathia, each of the boroughs will be headed by a borough manager who will be coordinating City Hall at least three sub counties.

“The boroughs system is cascading service delivery to the residents of Nairobi. Some of the services such as garbage collection, flushing of toilets and fixing of roads will now move away from City Hall to the six boroughs. It is easier to amalgamate resources into the six units for easier deployment,” Ms Mathia told Nation.Africa.

The county government in the 2023/2024 financial year budget has made an allocation of Sh400 million for the construction and infrastructure to support the establishment of the boroughs.

Ms Mathia also explained that the new administrative units will be run using the specific budget allocation for the sectors.

“There will be no extra cost for taxpayers apart from the hiring of the borough managers who will be the new employees.  The budget and personnel that we will be spending on running these units will come from the relevant sector. They will be moved from City Hall to the borough headquarters. We want the borough managers to have the authority and to be autonomous so that they can make decisions to improve delivery.” she added.

City residents will also not be required to travel to the City Hall annex to seek services. They will be required to visit the relevant borough headquarter.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja’s cabinet on Wednesday set the ball rolling for the establishment of the administrative units after his cabinet approved plans to begin construction works for the headquarters of the administrative units after the completion of a public participation exercise. A dispatch from the Acting County Secretary Patrick Analo said the units are expected to improve service delivery.

“The Sakaja Administration is determined to resolve the longstanding challenges in service delivery in Nairobi City County. Notably, it takes inordinately long to have issues responded to. The Administration therefore intends to decentralize County Public Service through creation of Administrative Boroughs.” Mr Analo said in the dispatch.

The Central Borough will cover parts of Nairobi Central Business District including Starehe, Kamkunji and Mathare sub counties. Its headquarters according to the county government will be located in Kamkunji in one of the pieces of land where the county is expected to undertake a low-cost housing project.

Western Borough is expected to cover Westlands, Dagoretti North and Dagoretti South. The headquarters of the units will be located at Waruku or Kawangware. Its service center will be located at City Park.

Residents of Embakasi will be required to seek the county services from the Eastern Borough that will be headquartered in DCC’s compound in Embakasi Central. The service center will be located at Embakasi North HDD offices.  The borough covers the sub counties of Embakasi Central, Embakasi West and Embakasi North sub counties.

Those staying in Kasarani, Roysambu and Ruaraka sub counties will be seeking the services from the headquarters of the Northern Borough located at Gatharaini Grounds while those staying in Embakasi South, Embakasi East and Makadara sub-counties will get the services from the South Eastern Borough headquarters in Makadara.

The Southern Borough includes Kibra and Lang’ata sub counties. It is headquartered at Joseph Kang’ethe Social Hall in Kibra sub-county.

Professor Fred Ogola, a governance analyst however says the directive by the county to establish boroughs while there are existing sub counties is a sign that the county administration lacks priority on key issues affecting Nairobi residents.

“What the county government is doing is just copy-pasting what we have seen in New York and London without taking into consideration issues of priority for Nairobi residents. Residents need garbage collection and improved drainage. They do not need boroughs. What is the essence of having boroughs yet we have subcounties? How much will it cost the taxpayer. They are just chronies to misuse public resources,” Prof Ogola posed.

But according to Leonard Khafafa, a policy analyst, the decision by the county to establish boroughs was long overdue and a step in the right direction given that Nairobi is expanding at a faster rate.

“Nairobi is a metropolitan and as you know all the metropolitans across the world are governed by boroughs. Nairobi is expanding at a fast rate. If you look at places like Mlolongo, Kitengela and Ngong and compare to what they were like 10 years ago, you will see the difference and the urgency.  We do not have to wait for 20 years to establish the boroughs, the time is now since they make it easier to govern the city,” Mr Khafafa told the Nation.


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