Friday, August 23, 2013

The China Syndrome

My governor is in China, and I have no idea why. He accompanied the head of state but he was also in the company of my senator and the governor of Kiambu, two characters with a colourful, shall we say, reputation. My governor tweeted that he had secured over 80 billion shillings of commitments from Chinese developers to finance "development" projects in our nation's Capital. My governor is seriously beginning to piss me off.

It is six months or so since March 4. In this period I am strongly persuaded if governors dreamt that the governor's mansion was a springboard to the presidency, that is a dream that will soon turn into a nightmare. If governors refuse to govern as they are intended to govern, the last thing Kenyans will do is trust the national government to them. Dr Kidero is fast proving that he simply does not get it.

Nairobi City is a mess. There are those who don't see it, the governor included. After all, they've made, or filched, so much money that they will never ride the death-traps we call matatus, they will be treated overseas (or the the Aga Khan, Nairobi or Karen hospitals), they will never shop at Marigiti, Wakulima, Muthurwa or Mutindwa markets, they will never experience pot-holed, street-light-less, or unmarked roads, and when they call the police in emergencies, there will be no claims of un-fuelled patrol cars (or the absence of OCPDs or OCSs). When they are chauffeured to their places of business, they willfully blind themselves to the great unwashed masses who have barely enough room on the "pavement" to walk on.

If Dr Kidero wants to see how low Nairobi has sunk, he should use pedestrian walkways across our high-speed highways: the one across Jogoo Road near the Law Courts, the one near the Nyayo National Stadium and the one near Madaraka Estate are excellent choices. It would surprise him I know to see people deliberately ignoring these life-saving facilities and risking their lives running helter-skelter across the busy roads. It would shock him, I know, if he were to walk across one of the three: mounds (yes, mounds) of human feaces, pools of human pee, and entire gangs of sundry muggers are what are to be found on these walkways. Let us not forget that they are, unsurprisingly, pot-holed to an incredible degree.

If this does not persuade his excellency ( I wonder why he'd want that honorific), he should take an incognito walk along Landhies Road, between the new Kenya Power substation and the traffic lights opposite the Retail Market. If the sight of blocked drains, exposed sewers, haphazardly-ridden boda bodas, strategically recklessly parked mikokoteni, and mounds (yes, mounds) of garbage does not shock him, then perhaps the sight of Kayole-bound matatus parked on the side of the road, the masses of Kenyans getting mugged at Machakos Airport, and the massive pothole on the roundabout surely should.

Dr Kidero's job is not to build factories. His job is not create jobs. His job is to make sure that the Capital functions. His Inspectorate is the most vicious blood-sucking parasite in the city, second only to the extortionate Mungiki and National Police Service. His City Hall is the most dysfunctional institution in all of Kenya. It is not just physically dysfunctional, it is structurally and culturally dysfunctional. How he is yet to recognise that he is the head of a gangster-riven government beggars belief.

But in Kenya, the Big Picture is all that counts. Big Ticket projects will give him a Name, and a National Profile, which he will leverage in his march to State House. The residents of Nairobi - the ones that self-indulgently place their lives at grave risk every time they board a City-bound Paradiso or visit any of the two dozen "City Dispensaries" when they are ailing - are the stepping stones he will step on on his way to State House, their needs being neither here nor there. Why would he listen to us about public safety, public health and sanitation, public transport, or civic functions when the billions he will secure from the Chinese will help him "build the infrastructure of a successful Nairobi" and give him a leg up over the over-ambitious likes of Ali Hasan Joho (Mombasa) or William Kabogo (Kiambu)?

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