Category Archives: Nairobi City Council

Unplanned Nairobi Infrastructure & Buildings

The spat this week between the Kenya Government and various businesses about demolition of buildings along Mombasa road is not a surprise for anyone who was at the 2010 TEDxNairobi where Architectural Engineer Eric Kigada of Planning Systems Services spoke of the lack of a valid master plan for the City of Nairobi and the resultant chaos for building owners and his fellow professionals.

He said Nairobi had master plans drawn in 1948 and 1973, but this last one expired in 2000 and it was a city that would expand toward Thika side of town. Currently, the government, planners, and landowners operate in a vacuum with different departments and ministries having different maps and plans for road expansion and it’s not clear what routes they will follow or how large actual roads will be constructed. Government officers who won’t commit approval in writing and there are unclear plans such as one extending the growth of Nairobi up to Namanga.

He advocates for digital maps (which exist) to be availed and used, transparency in the planning process, and most important a master plan that will be shared within the industry. He also spoke about his company’s other work such as revitalizing green spaces along the three Nairobi rivers and a proposal to utilize existing abandoned quarries to supply enough water for the Eastern half of Nairobi, but which the government authorities are yet to commit to.

Will the buildings, include the new Sameer Business Park and new Standard Newspapers Headquarters be brought down to expand the road? The Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) in a statement today called for urgent development and implementation of the comprehensive master plan and a defined compensation plan for land and building owners if the Government goes ahead with demolitions to make way for necessary infrastructure improvements.

Twitter Week: KQ Strike and Equity Profit Dips

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that is relly nifty for doing mini-posts, forwards and other remarks that (are on any subject) and are maybe not worthy of a full blog post. Here’s a summary of my week on Twitter:

– @coldtusker @kenentrepreneur the tea board of Kenya wishes to remind you that hawking of green tea leaf is
– Signed up too many usgov twitters to keep with #hilaryafrica. Will edit after her trip
– This is a good time for generator and diesel sale companies. I think there was a tax break for generator sales mentioned in uhuru’s June budget speech. No power last night, or this afternoon: will ignore the power ration schedule as a work of fiction KPLC. As bad as Nairobians complain about #KPLC the water crisis is of more concern
– R/T @shiroh the Stanchart diva trip is such a deal. $1,000 for 5 (shopping) days in South Africa for Ladies (incl, flights, hotels)
Ethiopian Airlines net profit was $118 million, revenue up 33% with new airbus & Boeing orders pending. R/T @Jellyfish78 Kenya Airways vs. Ethiopian Air on Youtube is an informative but nasty spat and Also Ethiopian Air to fly Addis-Mombasa (via Kilimanjaro)
– Diasporans giving up on Kenya
– Tahidi High tackles the mystery of paraffin in high school food
– On CitizenTV Delamere family shot live video in court and in jail. How? Still it’s a good spot light on the archaic judiciary. Delamere’s say Kenyatta family owns their dairy now while neighbours want to grab their 56 000 acre farm. Tom delamere testimony live – shot two dogs with two shots and denies he shot the man who died. How did ‘top lawyer’ tom ojiambo allow this?
– R/T @milonare Impunity starts with you, remember that when you cut in traffic and feel nothing. We reflect our leaders #fractals #Kenya
Barclays Kenya raising credit card rates to 3.0% (up from 2.5%) from next month
– r/t @mainat Banks have reduced lending not because of interest rates but poor prospects of recovering loans in an economy that has stalled
– @rookieKE if you bank with consolidated, you can transfer cash from A/C to Mpesa using your phone
– You can get to the top of KICC Nairobi for $2… (Though I believe Times Tower is higher)
– r/t @highwayafrica09 Call for Nominations – SABC-Highway Africa New Media Awards. See
– R/T @LarryMadowo FYI Equity Bank H1 PBT down 15% on one-off transaction last yr related 2 Safaricom IPO, Q2 profits up 25%
– Blog job: write about blogging, social networking & social media from Asia, MidEast and African countries
– R/T @kachwanya TEAMs shareholders seem to be the confused – there is no onward connectivity between Europe and Dubai, where TEAMS ends!
– Kenya stockbrokers association (KASIB) launched investor education handbook today
– So @kachwanya @kainvestor, Nairobi City Council earns 14sh ($0.2) for every flyer tossed out of a car window?
– R/T @alykhansatchu #Kenya new 234 item price basket will track mobile-#cellular and computers charges & #camel meat #inflation
– So many aviation colleges in Nairobi with unemployed graduates, these (striking)@kenyaairways workers should know this
– Spent 15min at Nakumatt queue while some afro-diplomats paid for groceries with us $. Their exchange rate is KES72 =$
– COTU’s Francis Atwoli is going to brag about ending the #KQ strike, and coming through for workers.

Delta, Zain and KQ Tweet Around

and other Bank Twits

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that is really nifty for doing mini-posts, forward and other remarks that (are on any subject) and are maybe not worthy of a full blog post. Here’s a summary of the last few days on Twitter:

May 29

  • @MauriYambo Kenya Co-op Bank directors shareholding Stinks
  • KTN’s Larry … Madowo @larrymadowo on Twitter
  • After a few drinks I discover I may be related to @kafai and @gishungwa! #TIA

May 30

  • Morning traffic jams in Nairobi Kileleshwa. Spy some Apts being built into the river & fear that one day, river will rise & reclaim its banks.
  • Government of Kenya shot itself in foot with punitive alcohol tax. Spirit brewers going belly up, Uhuru should correct.

May 31

  • Happy birthday young @intelligensia

Jun 1

  • @mwaikibaki will launch Kenya’s fibre optic cable this month.
  • @mwaikibaki says Kenya census starts august 24. Ends with his famous phrase, calls hecklers #pumbavu
  • Cadbury seems to have discontinued my fave choc wafer, while alvaro is on sale – buy 5, get 1 free!

June 2

  • Some Nairobi buildings were designed by Mario bros – with secret floors, VIP lifts, hidden entrances, hostile guards to negotiate.
  • Santander Bank may sponsor Ferrari next year – does that also make Alonso their new driver?
  • Does patient capitalist Jacqueline Novogratz @jnovogratz have the answer to the role of aid in development?
  • The African Union wants to set up an African Central Bank
  • @TerryanneC Delta Airlines maiden flight earlier scheduled for tomorrow from Atlanta to Kenya postponed indefinitely
  • If I had to subscribe to one magazine for life, it would be the Economist

June 3

  • @coldtusker even without airport CEO, artur, 1jet1 – US may want more than one airport checkpoint to filter passengers, so non-stop no go.
  • @mamboleo ranneberger welcomed delta in the news and was to officiate today. Mwakwere has been in US for a week waiting to fly
  • @MIMImagazine new Sade album this year\
  • What’s wrong with Kenya airport Security?
  • Want to speak like Kenyan kids? – try the Sheng dictionary…
  • Got an accurate shares statement by e-mail from CDSC Kenya – so my stockbroker is still honest

June 4

  • Should companies care about what’s written about them online?
  • Former ministers and MP’s mentioned in parliament as masterminds of some collapsed Kenya pyramid
  • Michuki and Ruto top a NTV viewer poll of best performing ministers in Kenya. Ok… #Kenya

June 5

  • @alykhansatchu “In September 2008, all hell broke loose, it fell like the Titanic” – Titus Naikuni Kenya Airways CEO
  • @coldtusker Kenya Airways losing 4 billion after Zain’s 7 billion loss, there’s a lot of blood!

June 6

  • Nairobi city council asking 100 shillings ($1.25) to photocopy each 100 words of new laws that will punish residents #FAIL
  • Follow George Ayittey @ayittey for a harsh dose of Afro-reality
  • JKIA arrival lounge – musician Jua Cali and Uganda leader Kizza Besige arrive unnoticed

June 7

  • Button-Brawn wins turkey GP. Kenyan crowds are ABB – Anyone but Button
  • @karuoro does XYZ fail for taking shots at politicos who are too funny to be imitated or is it the poor voices?

June 8

  • Reading Africa confidential to see which way Gabon goes: Lady Senate president should succeed, but Bongo Jnr. is minister of defence.
  • Weekendgossip: Delta planned Nairobi route before they merged with Northwest – who are KLM partners. KLM have invested for many years in Kenya Airways so does it make sense for Delta to fly to Nairobi?

June 9

  • Why would Wanjiku Mugane quit the EABL Board?
  • R/T @kainvestor @kachwanya Zain looks to close $12bn deal to sell Africa unit – report:
  • Soldiers are not allowed with guns in the room (and other hotel rules)
  • Time to do the tax return thing – 3 out of 4 years waiting for a tax refund.

June 10

  • How the Lakers won Game 2: I wish Bill Simmons watched Soccer and F1 because there are more conspiracies than NBA
  • The folks at DNA Kenya have published a Promiscuity Index Report: Ave No. of Steady Mistresses! Ave No. of kids per steady Mistress! Ave No. of 1 night stands since wedding! #DNAKenya

spot the difference

Nairobi City Council Finances

Amid the record half year bank profits, local authorities (town, municipal, county) are also releasing their year end numbers (June 08)

The finances for the Nairobi City council showed revenue of Kshs. 8.1 billion ($123 million) which came from the following sources; government 2.53 billion, (Nairobi) water company 147m, borrowing of 505m, 772m from business permits, market fees 325m, 1.72 billion ($26m) from property rates, and 649m from parking collections.

Expenditure was the same 8.1 billion shillings comprising payments to councilors of 71 million, salaries amounting to Kshs. 3.7 billion ($56m), operations & maintenance 1b, capital projects (investments) 1.1 b, and debt repayment of Kshs. 2.1 billion)

The popular and celebrated town clerk John Gakuo (who’s vilified by others) remains in office despite a change of guard in the chaotic politics of running Nairobi City.

Also, the local government minister published new accounting rules last month for councils to follow which they must as they on average get about 60% of their revenue from the government, and most are dependent on the Government (taxpayers) for their continued operations.

John Gakuo: Restoring Nairobi’s Glory

Like former Mayor (and now Presidential Candidate) Rudy Giuliani did for New York in the mid-1990’s, John Gakuo, the town clerk of the City Council of Nairobi, is credited with the clean up of the city, making it a cleaner, safer, and a more beautiful place to visit.

So how did he do it? He gave a Leadership Forum talk on October 17 on his time at City Hall

Who: John Gakuo is a University of Nairobi Graduate and had been an administrator (provincial administration) for over 20 years. He was appointed Town Clerk (effectively CEO) of the Nairobi City Council in 2004. He is inspired by history – France’s recovery since WWI, the Arusha Declaration (Tanzania) – and believes that Nairobi can be restored to its glory, which last shone in the 1970’s.

He gave his talk on the challenge of effective resource management and began by saying that resources were not the key to change, noting that some countries with abundant mineral resources have their citizens living in extreme poverty, while others with fewer resources, have prudently managed what they have to achieve great things. And that was the theme of his talk – use what you have to get what you want

The success he has had at city hall has been through effective resource management and he decried leaders who use the ‘we have no money’ excuse for not doing things, noting that they should solve problems in other ways

Beginning: He was transferred there from the Ministry of Health and initially believed someone wanted him fired (from the Government) by having him posted to the ‘chaotic’ office – one that attracts insults in the media every day, for the poor conditions in the city. He found the city dirty because they had no brooms, and was told there was no money to buy brooms. He thought about it and decided that the staff could not be idle, so he asked them to cut tree branches to sweep up the city. In no time, this led to money becoming available, and soon brooms were procured and work continued.

And from that point on he decided to set out priority areas that he could tackle with his limited resource base, and which produced visible results, since he did not have money to do what people wanted most.

These included;

Recreation Areas: Nairobi city was planned for ½ million people, but now had 3 ½ million, and even up to 4 million during the daytime – and there were no places for recreation. Two parks – Central Park and Uhuru Park were very dirty, un-maintained, and controlled by gangs of urchins who molested anyone who dared go near the parks. So he fixed the one tractor and grass cutter and began a long attempt to mow the grass and clean the parks of trash. They also set up lighting for the park and security so that couples and families could begin using the park. He is gratified by the numbers of people (couples, families) who now visit and rest in the park, in relative safety. Later he extended his campaign to Uhuru Gardens (Langata Road) even though it is not under the Council’s jurisdiction – and it is now a popular weekend rest point for people.

Statutory (Legal) Powers as a Resource for Service Delivery: He said, even when you have no money, you still have to be seen to be at work, and that people always want to see new things from leaders. So he undertook measures which were visible and which he could maintain, but which did not require money. He took advantage of very powerful, but dormant, by-laws in the city council code, which he combined with the abundant staff resource at his disposal. These efforts included curbing down on garbage dumping at Kangemi (though it took over 2,000 arrests for the message to sink in), and requiring buildings owners in Nairobi to fix & paint their buildings prior to license renewal. Also littering, public urination, and zebra crossing, and numerous other (unfortunate ‘violations’ were punished by the council’s various inspectorate teams.

Lighting & Beautification: Lighting is an essential feature of beautification and security in the city. He set out to put lights that would give visitors a positive impression of the city, right from Jomo Kenyatta airport and into the city, as well as on Langata Road and Waiyaki Way up to the city boundaries – and plans to light up Thika Road up to Kenyatta University. Within the city, lighting, combined with other inspectorate crews were used to rid the streets of urchins who used to snatch women’s purses and who made several parts of the city no-go zones after sunset. They plan to light up the other side of Tom Mboya Street up to Nairobi River and Khoja Mosque as well.

In addition to urchins, he also cut down on the women who’d beg with children on their back all day, believing that few of them were genuine cases. He does not know where they went, but they are not on the streets anymore as they can be charged with ‘idling’. He joked that when you see him coming up with a new by-law to enforce, you know the City is broke again

Trees are relatively cheap to plant; they make the city beautiful and filter the exhaust fumes from vehicles. So the council has planted thousands of evergreen trees in the city and along the major highways.

Roundabouts and fountains are being resorted in parks and at strategic points in the city after years of disuse.

Roundabouts are archaic and they will all be ripped up along Uhuru Highway.

Kiosks often harbour undesirables, some can do, but they are a very sensitive political matter and he gets a lot of pressure when he cracks down. However, with the ones outside Nairobi Hospital, he was able to accommodate them by asking that they rebuild them in a manner that they were not an eyesore

Matatu’s: He described the transport minibuses as a menace. Some measures he has taken to rein them in include stationing 2 tow trucks at the Westlands roundabout to intercept any matatu dropping of picking up passengers on the road, instead of using the bus-stop, while on Thika Road, they are digging trenches to prevent matatu’s from driving down the side of the road.

Garbage Disposal The Dandora dumpsite been around for 50 years to the detriment of their residents’ health. The City Council is seeking an international company to tackle solid waste disposal soon.

Partnerships:  He said Business & Residents Associations have not provided meaningful assistance – all they do is have endless meetings and resolutions with no action thereafter, while most who have pledged to restore/beautify some roundabouts have not done more than put up their own advertising. He welcomes anyone or business that has a plan/action to beautify/restore any project in the City to contact his office, noting that majority of city residents have been impatient but not helpful.

Media relations: He has engaged the public through the media by responding/replying to each accusation or report he read about in the news about the City Council. This has helped the media come around to understand the challenges he faces.

Numbers: He was questioned later about revenue and staff numbers. On staff, he said that they have about 13,000 staff and ideally should have 7,000. He said when he has enough money, he will retrench some of them, but for now he’ll continue to use them as effectively as he can so they earn their keep. On revenue he said when he joined 2 ½ years ago, the city was collecting 3 billion, now they are up to 11 billion and growing. Earlier on he took over aspects of the Finance Department, since Treasury was receiving very little of what was being collected.

Succession: One questioner dropped a Tom Peters quote on him challenging that ‘leaders are not judged by how many followers they have, but by how many leaders they create’ – to which he replied that all he can do is let others see his strategies and actions and see if they are worth emulating.

Summary: The Town Clerk is a man who believes in action, not talk. And with his style and achievements, you can expect him to probably, like Rudy Giuliani (minus the personal baggage), step into politics in a few years.



May 2018: John Gakuo was jailed for three years and fined Kshs 1 million for abuse of office stemming from the irregular purchase of cemetery land for Nairobi.

October 2018: John Gakuo died while receiving treatment at a Nairobi Hospital.