The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on Nairobi City Council (NCC) did not only point an accusing finger at its bloated and incompetent workforce (see ‘Part 1’ below), it was also a damning indictment of the NCC’s leadership. Some of these leaders should resign, or be sacked: this will not happen. One of them even thinks his catastrophic mismanagement will serve as a platform for higher office.
The report highlighted massive problems in the Council’s financial management, poor recruiting policies, bureaucracy run riot and duplication of responsibilities. This, together with the massive over-manning, led not only to ‘impaired service provision, but has also turned the council into a cashcow for unscrupulous employees’ (Daily Nation, April 13).
The Kenya Forum has drawn attention to the rampant corruption and bad dealings in the NCC before, notably in the postings ‘Nairobi City Council: High time to clean out this ‘Den of Corruption’ (Jan. 26, 2012) and ‘Nairobbing City Council’ (Nov. 9, 2010).
Kenfrey Kiberenge, writing in the Standard on Saturday (‘At City Hall, competence is contentious’, April 14), catalogued what so many people living in Nairobi know about the NCC’s ‘unscrupulous employees’.
‘For decades, innumerable Nairobians have suffered silently particularly in the hands of council askaris who bundle them into vans and drive around the city extorting for bribes’, wrote Keberenge. They have witnessed parking attendants failing to issue tickets so that cars can be clamped; ‘sting operations’ against matatu passengers by council officials; mothers in Pumwani maternity hospital and other council hospitals mourning the loss of their babies because of the lack of adequate treatment; and hawkers on the dirty rubbish-strewn streets that are ‘dotted with dangerous manholes’.
Much as we loathe their unscrupulous and incompetent behaviour, the council workers themselves are not entirely to blame. They blame their bosses for failing to provide them with tools, uniforms and leadership, poor working conditions and an atmosphere of hopelessness that pervades the NCC. A fish, notes the Forum, rots from the head.
FAILURE AS A PLATFORM
Kenfrey Kiberenge was right is asserting that the ‘picture of a city on a spiral’ is the result not just of ‘incompetence on the part of the workers but also the neglect by the council’s top officials’.
One such official is none other than Mr Philip Kisia, the NCC’s Town Clerk since May 2009. One would have thought that given his tenure of office over the last three years covers the period of two excoriating PwC reports he might admit some responsibility for the Council’s multiple failings (failings which have been publicised time and again): not a bit of it.
Kisia, a man who loves the media limelight and has often been seen grandstanding in front of the TV cameras, believes his track record suits him to stand for higher office, that is, to run for Governor of the new Nairobi County (a county that is likely to inherit massive debts from Kisia’s time in office at the NCC).
NOT MY FAULT
In a Question and Answer session with readers published in the Saturday Nation, Kisia was unputdownable.
What about the lack of fire hydrants? Not my fault, 25 of the 68 hydrants in the city work, it used to be just eight.
What about allowing the development of buildings of more than five floors but not having firefighting equipment that can reach that high, and a water pressure too low to put out a candle? Not my fault, we must wait for a report.
What about illegal and informal settlements? Not my fault, what’s needed is more guidance from government.
What about the many disasters in slum areas? Not my fault. Japan had a tsunami, that wasn’t my fault either.
EXIT PHILIP KISIA – TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH THE ELECTORATE
Back to today and a report in The Star. About those thousands of unneeded and incompetent NCC employees Mr Kisia: “I would like to assure my employees that their jobs are secured”.
Mr Kisia says he will stand down as NCC Town Clerk at the end of the month to comply with election rules and so that he can ‘give himself more time with the electorate before elections’.
The Kenya Forum hopes Philip Kisia does talk to the electorate and we hope also that they tell him exactly what they think of the NCC and its ways of operating: then go and vote for someone else.