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Economy

Broke city plans mansion for governor

City Hall, in Nairobi. The county government plans to build a governor’s residence this year even as it struggles with low revenue collections. Photo/Salaton Njau.
City Hall, in Nairobi. The county government plans to build a governor’s residence this year even as it struggles with low revenue collections. Photo/Salaton Njau.  

The Nairobi County government intends to put up a governor’s house this year even as it struggles with low revenue collections.

The house is listed as one of the development expenditure items in the County Appropriation Act, which was signed on Wednesday. But City Hall could not confirm the house’s development details, with the cost bundled together with other expenditure items under the Governor’s office.

The projects that include rebranding, establishment of county media consultancy services, ERP projects among others are all expected to cost Sh725 million.

Interim County Secretary Lilian Ndegwa said the county has an obligation to provide housing to its officers.

“However, the house is not among priority projects lined up this financial year and we can only embark on it either this year or next year depending on availability of funds,” Ms Ndegwa said.

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County Executive Committee member for Finance Gregory Mwakanogo said there were no definite plans so far with respect to architectural design, size or location.

The provision, however, raises questions over the use of the mayor’s official residence which was handed back to the City Council of Nairobi last year after more than two decades.

But Ms Ndegwa said that the house was “beyond repair”.

The house in Lavington suburb reverted to the city authorities in an out-of-court settlement after a drawn-out legal battle with Isabella Vicky Nzalambi, the wife of former Lands minister Noah Katana Ngala.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had accused the former minister of conspiring with City Hall officials to irregularly allocate him the property whose ownership he later transferred to Ms Nzalambi.

“The Treasury has been paying allowances for another alternative residence and it is a priority to us that this property does not change hands in the future,” said the then acting EACC chairperson Jane Muthaura.

Mr Mumo Matemu has since been appointed the EACC chairman.

The plans come a few months after Kenyans expressed outrage at the national government’s plans to refurbish a relatively new deputy president’s official residence in Karen for Sh100 million.

On Wednesday, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero endorsed an increase in fees, taxes and service charges by about 100 per cent.

The Finance Bill that Dr Kidero signed into law comes into effect after 14 days, enabling the administration to raise about Sh1 billion monthly, up Sh560 million now.

Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary-general Stephen Mutoro faulted the move saying that it was an ambush on Nairobi residents and could end up fuelling fraud at City Hall.

“It is fair that the county government requires funds to give services and perform other functions like repayment of its debts but the law comes at a time when the consumer is suffering,” he said referring to this week’s commencement of the value added tax law.

He suggested that the Governor extends the time it would take before the law is implemented.

Most Kenyans expressed dismay online at the rise in parking fees and land rates given the deteriorating quality of services in the county.

The Controller of Budget has cautioned county governments against extravagant spending after many presented budget deficits caused by provisions for lavish governors’ residences and fuel guzzlers.

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