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Evans Kidero’s Nairobi struggles

Lessons from the past could perhaps be of great help to millions of Nairobians as they prepare to elect their fourth governor in the August 2022 polls. The lessons drawback to 2013 when Evans Kidero was overwhelmingly elected the capital city’s first governor.

Before trouncing Ferdinand Waititu, his nearest challenger by 692, 483 votes to 617, 839, Kidero had risen from humble beginnings to one of the most admired Chief Executives on the Kenyan corporate scene. He was elected amid a myriad of promises, including to transform Nairobi into the cleanest city in Africa.

Before joining politics, the son-in-law of Independence politician Tom Mboya worked as the Chief Executive of Mumias Sugar Company for eight years.

While addressing his first sitting of the Nairobi County Assembly, he vowed to address traffic congestion in the city by expanding the road network and introducing a mass transit rapid transport system.

Other promises included promoting non-motorized transport, ensuring the availability of parking lots at new developments, encouraging multi-level civic parking in the city centre, and enhancing the ongoing efforts to create a comfortable pedestrian culture in Nairobi.

Kidero also pledged to improve the city’s health, sanitation, education, and security.

He also promised to rehabilitate the over 60 dilapidated health facilities such as the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, which has existed since 1944.

In his first month in office, he fired 11 people for delivering fictitious invoices for nonexistent goods and suspended 16 members of his staff on suspicion of corruption.

In September 2013, the governor increased parking fees in the city, leading to a matatu strike.

That was the first of the many strikes Nairobians witnessed under his leadership.

Kidero also unsuccessfully tried to get boda boda riders out of Nairobi’s central business district.

Then the challenges persisted with persistant strikes from county workers owing to unpaid salaries and disregard of a collective bargaining agreement.

A no-nonsense, strict, and sometimes temperamental guy, was never short of controversy.

In September 2013, drama unfolded at City Hall after he allegedly slapped then Women Representative Rachel Shebesh during a heated verbal exchange outside his office.

Shebesh, known for her aggressive style, had confronted Kidero over county employees’ strike over unpaid salaries, which had paralysed county operations. It later emerged that the former governor paid Shebesh Sh30 million after they agreed to settle the matter out of court.

In 2017, Kidero lost the governor seat to Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko. His political loss marked the beginning of many arrests and lengthy stays in police cells, away from his lavish homes in Muthaiga and Kisumu. Kidero was dragged to court to battle charges of abuse of office, money laundering, and bribery, among others.

He is eyeing a political comeback with sights trained on the Homa Bay gubernatorial seat in the August 2022 polls.