Mike Sonko has proved to be a cleaver proxy for political tyrants. He has risen by riding on the goodwill of ordinary citizens and turned to feed on their misery. The Nairobi governor, who was elected by majority of small business people, slum dwellers, boda boda operators and generally the – earners in Nairobi is becoming their worst nightmare.
He kicked off by not revising down their operating licenses and the high cost of doing business in Nairobi remained; he then ordered a taskforce to eject all hawkers from the CBD without giving them an alternative operation centre. Mike Sonko’s askaris use tear gas when they feel like and are backed by heavily armed riot police which is contrary to his promise of a friendly City Council.
It’s rumoured that this has been funded by Chinese traders who have bought whole sale stores around the city and selling at prices cheaper than hawkers.
Mike Sonko later shocked many by banning boda boda operators from the city centre, a very lucrative area, at a time when foreign based transport companies were introducing motor bike options for transportation on their apps. He later introduced fines, almost 60% of the motor bike’s value. Now anyone with a motor bike has to pay the county a fee to access the CBD.
This move has been seen as a cashcow for him and his team as many are caught with askaris collecting a minimum of Ksh3,000 for every arrest. This is believed to be one of the income streams for the Sonko Rescue Team cartel.
Sonko has now engineered a plan to get Kenya’s top families to control Nairobi CBD transport business by ejecting matatu operators from the city. This county is planning to float a tender to supply standard quality city metros to operate within the city.
These contracts, according to tradition, will go to the high and mighty considering the city public transport is a multi-billion shilling business. The buses that will probably come from a Chinese company are likely to offer kickbacks, too, and will be inflated to feed the hierarchy.
The buses will then fuel from one petrol station which will also be owned by one of the big families through proxies or directly. This move will kill matatu business in the CBD and, like cancer, it will spread to all other counties rendering people jobless and desperate.
The Governor will then introduce NYS buses to help ease the suffering for the people before the buses arrive. This will give an emergency spending avenue by the government. Buses will be bought for double the price. Either way the tyrants win.
Sonko is a perfect puppet for them: he will change Nairobi, sell it off and allow the county to be dissolved into the National Government and there’s is nothing we can do about it. There’s a reason why a certain guest visited Mike Sonko; James Bond doesn’t appear where there is no action. There is a reason why Chris Kirubi, on his recovery, only appears at Mike Sonko’s functions. Uber, which is one of the governor’s darlings, is benefiting most from the public transport instability.
Mike Sonko took every hustler and every struggling voter for a ride.
His close allies sell water to slum residents. He won’t he solve the water problem even though he has enough to water grass and flowers.
Fair to say that matatus time in the CBD is coming to an end as experts around the world have shown that city transport should be centralized to ensure order, proper revenue collection and standardization of services and pricing.
City transport is important to ensure a proper business environment and a structured flow of transport. As much as we embrace the vision of a world class city, the governor should have liaised with all stake holders to ensure a streamlined transition into the next phase or city transit.
Nairobians deserve some respect and consideration. Kenyans have paid taxes for the ministry of transport and infrastructure, and should have an action team for such events. Nairobi is a transport hub: we have sick people who connect through the city to get to hospitals, employees have to get to offices, and we have old and young people who connecting from up country. This has made people vulnerable to opportunistic thieves and the inconvenience is alarming, mad traffic jam, low business in the CBD and so much more.
The county government of Nairobi knows that the transition would take some time to smooth out; we have to explore comprehensive solutions like more bypass roads in and out of Nairobi to ease congestion. The county should bring in big carries like sub-way systems, cable rails and more metro buses with designated routes.
All Kenyans agree that this matatus are out of control in terms of clumsy driving, unethical conduct, unpredictable fares, but the county government must read from the wise word of PLO Lumumba: “You can’t respond to a mosquito bite with a hammer.”
The county should look for a solution that won’t harm the people who live, work or tour the great city of Nairobi.