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HomePOLITICSSifuna Scorches Sakaja in Senate Showdown

Sifuna Scorches Sakaja in Senate Showdown

Sifuna Scorches Sakaja in Senate Showdown

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja faced a challenging session on Tuesday as he appeared before a Senate committee that called him to discuss the progress of the Urban City Renewal Plan being carried out by the Nairobi County Government.

Apart from facing a Ksh.500,000 penalty for ignoring the committee’s summons in the past, Sakaja endured a reprimand from Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna. Sifuna stopped just short of alleging that Sakaja was showing disrespect to the residents of Nairobi County.

The sequence of events started when Sakaja asserted that he couldn’t comply with the earlier summons because he had traveled abroad.

Sifuna took the opportunity to publicly confront Sakaja during the Senate’s Roads, Transportation, and Housing Committee meeting. He argued that the Governor’s explanation of traveling abroad was inadequate and insisted that an apology was owed to the residents affected by the situation.

“I don’t think it is fair for you Governor to just tell the people of Nairobi that you had travelled. All these people I can assure you that Sakaja knows all these leaders individually and they are the ones who are disappointed,” said Sifuna referring to leaders of estates set to be demolished in the regeneration plan.

The leaders in question were representing residents who are poised to be impacted by the plan, and they are expressing opposition to the proposed implementation approach as they appear before the committee.

“For me really I don’t mind because as you know I don’t live in any of those estates. We bring these matters before the Senate not on our behalf but on behalf of these people and they are the people who have been disappointed and are the people you owe an apology,” Sifuna added.

The Senator from Nairobi proceeded to allege that the Governor failed to prioritize pressing and relevant matters. He asserted that this negligence was a key factor leading to a proposal in the Senate suggesting harsh penalties for Governors similar to Sakaja.

“You say you showed up in the Senate last week but that was for a selfish reason because Governors in this country only find use for the Senate when they are looking for more resources for counties. You were there, and I watched it, to present your case of Ksh.450 billion that the Council of Governors is pushing. That is the only time you prioritize parliamentary business,” Sifuna highlighted.


He went on: “For me chair, my disappointment is expressed on behalf of the people of Nairobi who are seeking answers from you and it is not enough to tell people that you had traveled. Many of these people will never get the opportunity to travel to those countries you travel when you are supposed to prioritize parliamentary business as is the law.”

The Senator downplayed the Ksh.500,000 penalty for ignoring the summons, expressing dissatisfaction with its adequacy. He emphasized a Senate proposal to increase sanctions for individuals who don’t attend parliamentary committees and advocated for Parliament to be granted the authority to apprehend non-cooperative individuals.

“This is why there is a conversation to enhance the penalty for people who fail to appear before parliamentary committees. That amendment has been triggered by Governors like yourself.”

“We feel that Ksh.500,000 especially for Governors in cities is peanuts for you. That is just a ticket from here to Johannesburg and back. It is not money… That is not a motivation for people to appear before these committees. We are hoping that in addition to enhancement of fines, as has been proposed before the Senate, Parliament now needs powers to arrest people,” said Sifuna.

The plan for Urban Regeneration in Nairobi involves the revitalization of 13 neighborhoods within the city, starting with seven initial ones, namely Woodley, Jericho, Ziwani, Maringo, Bahati, Lumumba, and Kariobangi North.

The Senate committee instructed the Nairobi County Government on Tuesday to halt the execution of the plan. This suspension is to remain in place until comprehensive public involvement takes place and the concerns raised by the affected residents in their petition are adequately dealt with.

Governor Sakaja objected to the decision to pause the execution of the plan, contending that seven agreements with developers have already been finalized.

Sifuna Scorches Sakaja in Senate Showdown