It is a big relief for Nairobi residents that Governor Mike Sonko has beaten a retreat on plans to increase taxes on a number of key services. Under the proposal, Nairobians would have paid more fees for parking, garbage collection, business certificates as well as increased charges for inspection of dogs and cats.
The relief among the city residents is understandable. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living keeps rising, and piling up additional taxes on their already sagging shoulders would have been, to say the least, intolerable.
It is also unjustifiable to increase taxes on such services as garbage collection when all indications are that not enough is being done to ensure the city is sustainably and consistently clean.
While it is in order for Mr Sonko to receive plaudits for making such a positive dramatic about-turn, how the taxes were conceived in the first place raises more questions than answers.
The governor has distanced himself from the proposal, suggesting that Finance executive Charles Kerich not only single-handedly came up with the new levies, but did so behind the governor’s back.
How this could be possibly done remains a matter of conjecture and is an issue that needs to be examined separately.
Mr Sonko will have a hard time convincing the public that he was unaware that the new taxes would hit Nairobi households hard.
It’s time Mr Sonko stopped playing populist politics on important public interest issues.
His administration is increasingly becoming a study on how not to run a city, moreso a regional commercial, logistics, technology and financial hub. The capital deserves creative, firm and forward-looking leadership if it is to maintain and bolster this status.
The confusing signals the governor keeps sending on substantive policy matters betray a lack of well thought-out and grounded vision as well as less than satisfactory leadership, which is detrimental to the wellbeing of Nairobians.
As a starting point, the governor must stop passing the buck whenever his policies run into public backlash as the new taxes were potentially bound to.