Counties

Bill to scrap Nairobi City County collapses

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko (left) and his deputy Polycarp Igathe. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Nairobi governor Mike Sonko (left) and his deputy Polycarp Igathe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The plans to expunge Nairobi from the list of devolved units will now take longer after a Bill proposing the move failed to sail through the Senate.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by former Murang’a senator Kembi Gitura, stalled at the first reading stage of the Senate after Parliament adjourned in June for the August polls.

According to Parliamentary laws, the Bill, whose sponsor equally failed to recapture his seat, will have to be redrafted and tabled afresh in the House.

The Senate Standing Orders 149, sub-section three, dictates that a Bill whose debate and passage is not concluded before the end of the term of the House shall lapse.

Mr Gitura, who served as a deputy speaker in the last Senate, had sought to have the Nairobi city county, returned back to the ambits of the national government and placed under the charge of a cabinet secretary appointed by the President.

“There shall be a national capital city known as Nairobi, which shall be the seat of the national government,” reads a section of the proposed law.

This comes even as Governor Sonko last week rubbished claims that there were plans by the Jubilee government to return the city county back to the national government. He said the two levels of governments will only partner on development projects.

The city, according to Mr Gitura, would have constituencies that will elect representatives to the National Assembly, a provision that critics of the proposed law termed an attempt to shove up numbers of representatives in the House.

In his proposals, the Bill would save taxpayers billions of shillings currently sent to the city county and lost through corruption, in line with proposals to reduce the already ballooning wage bill in the country.

Governors are under pressure to put in austerity measures to contain their wage bill, weed out ghost workers and reduce graft loopholes in the devolved units which Auditor-General Edward Ouko says are the avenues for misuse of public funds.

However, critics have poked holes on the attempts to reduce the number of counties by scrapping off Nairobi from the list, terming it as mischievous and a decision that will be an uphill task.

If re-introduced in Parliament, the Bill must pass through several House hurdles and a referendum to be implemented, according to Article 255 of the Constitution.

According to Mr Gitura, the minister will exercise the powers and perform the functions delegated to him or her by the Office of the President.

“The Bill is alive to the power of the people and their right to be represented. As such, this right will continue to be fulfilled through the election of representative to the National Assembly,” a section of the Bill reads.