Nairobi’s Sh500m plan for governor, deputy homes

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The Nairobi County Council Governor’s office at City Hall. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NMG

City Hall has revived a plan to acquire lavish homes for the new Nairobi Governor and deputy at a hefty cost of Sh500 million, setting it on a collision course with the Senate.

The plan is contained in the Nairobi County Annual Development Plan for the financial year ending June 30, 2023.

“The Nairobi County government plans to purchase Governor’s and deputy governor’s residences amounting to Sh500 million in the next financial year which begins on July 1, 2022,” reads in part the report tabled before the Nairobi County Assembly by the Budget and Appropriations committee.

Though the document does not provide elaborate details on the proposed location, specifications and cost of each of the planned residences, it will be more than enough to secure some of the biggest houses in the most expensive estates in Nairobi.

The projected amount is also more than five times the Senate’s cap for such a project where the cost of a governor’s official house was capped at Sh45 million, that of the deputy at Sh40 million and Sh35 million for the Speaker.

The latest house price data in Nairobi by Hass Consult shows that Gigiri is the most expensive neighbourhood in Kenya with an average house selling for Sh121 million.

The Sh500 million allocation points to the fact that City Hall is not looking at buying an average house even in Gigiri, which is perhaps one of Kenya’s most secure neighbourhoods being the capital of diplomats and expatriates.

The allocation is set to spark debate on why the county is not considering building a house on one of its many properties around town to save taxpayers money. The money is enough to buy five lavish homes in Nyari, six homes in Karen or 10 standalone houses in Westlands.

The allocation comes against a 2020 directive by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to all the 47 counties to build residential houses for their top officials within two years as part of plans to cut on monthly rent expenditure by such officers.

This is after the National Treasury had a year earlier raised concerns over its continued spending of Sh5 million in monthly allowance payouts to governors, Sh4.5 million for deputy governors and Sh3.75 million for speakers in the devolved units, increasing the burden on taxpayers.

Consequently, the Ann Kananu-led administration is set to become the first county government to comply with the directive. The SRC has been paying monthly rental allowance of Sh200,000 to the two officials.

City Hall had in the past been considering using Mayor’s official residence along Isaac Gathanju Close in Lavington as the Governor’s residence.

The property measuring 0.843 acres was supposed to be handed over to Nairobi’s first Governor Evans Kidero in 2013 but he opted to stay at his Muthaiga home.

Instead, the house was occupied by former County Executive Committee (CEC) member Ann Lokidor until November 2018 when she was evicted from the residence.

However, even the former governor Mike Sonko failed to move into the residence and instead shuttled between his Nairobi private residences and Mua Hills home in Machakos County.

In July 2020, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Lieutenant General Mohamed Badi took possession of the residence.

This was after Mr Sonko had announced plans to move into the house, saying county staff were renovating the property ahead of his plan to occupy it.

However, the NMS boss warned the former Mr Sonko to keep off the property as it was now under NMS as part of transferred county function of lands. Since then, the property has remained under the maintenance of NMS.

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