The intrigues that led to the formation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to run the capital’s crucial functions of health, transport, public works and planning whose budgets run into billions of shillings can finally be revealed. At the helm of the NMS is Major General Mohamed Badi of the Kenya Air Force who reportedly was Uhuru Kenyatta’s schoolmate at the prestigious St Mary’s School.His appointment came as the president turns to military and National Intelligence Service officers to run key departments that have for long been held captive by cartels. Others however say the plan to bering in Badi was to intimidate Sonko and create fear in City Hall. Insiders say at the heart of the formation of NMS is the Kenyatta family’s plan to build the Sh500 billion Northlands City in Ruiru that will be linked to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Nairobi’s central business district. Northlands City, which was conceived in 2016 and planned by Triad Architects, will sit in an area that is strategically placed, being near Kenyatta University on one side, Thika Superhighway, Nairobi CBD and JKIA. It is claimed the government is stalling the construction of state-funded Konza city in Makueni county 60 kilometres from Nairobi along Mombasa Highway until Kenyatta family’s city is completed.
Through the road and rail connectivity, the Kenyatta project will benefit from the 200-acre Infinity Industrial Park under development off the Eastern Bypass as well as the Embakasi Garrison, Administration Police Training College-Embakasi, General Service Unit Training School Embakasi as well as numerous residential developments within the expansion path. On the Northern Bypass Membley and Kigwa Ridge estates, hotels such as the late John Michuki’s Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, Chris Kirubi’s Two Rivers Mall as well as populous residential developments and industries will also benefit. Northlands city will have two interchanges, one linking it to Eastern Bypass near Thika Superhighway and another 300 metres away linking it to the Greater Eastern Bypass. The city will get another link road and an additional interchange connection to the populous Githurai area. The Northlands City is envisaged to host a population of 250,000 people. The new city will be linked to Nairobi’s CBD and JKIA via a railway network and road, sectors the first family plans to invest in. The Northlands City incorporates low-tohigh income residential areas, commercial space, a central business district, schools, an industrial area, and an agricultural zone. A total of 3,570 acres have been set aside for residential housing, including lowdensity residentials (3,134 acres), high-density residentials (306 acres), and medium density residentials (130 acres).
The medium residential area is expected to play host to 670 townhouses and 368 housing units in flats while the low-density area is reserved for 601 villas and 1,320 townhouses. Northlands also plans for a high-density residential area on which blocks of flats having 6,980 housing units and 3,100 townhouses. Some 390 acres have been set aside for a business district, including 33 acres for a mall/ hotel and two acres for a clubhouse. Some 695 acres have been set aside for an industrial park, 650 acres for a logistics park, 1,697 acres as open recreational space of which 266 acres would possess water features. The biggest portion of the land – 5,156 acres – has been reserved for wildlife conservation and agriculture with Kenyatta family’s Gicheha Farm, which keeps large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, as the main occupant. In May 2019, the government expanded the Eastern Bypass that connects Mombasa and Thika Road to cater for the Northlands City. Once the construction of the city is completed, almost 30,000 vehicles will be added onto the roads connecting it and Nairobi. Insiders add that a host of investors have already bought pieces of land at the site which were going for Sh40 million per acre. Also affected is deputy president William Ruto whose land in Ruai, Nairobi that he intended to put up a rival modern city was taken by the national government over claims the DP grabbed it. Insiders say Sonko, as the city’s governor, had resisted attempts to give approval to the mega project setting him on a collision course with State House and Kenyatta family.
The governor, who signed the transfer of deed in March, has moved to court to stop the takeover. The war between Sonko and powerful system forces is nasty that plan was nipped in the bud when detectives stormed his private Upper Hill offices in Nairobi where he was holed up in a meeting with his strategists. The detectives had firm instructions to forcibly take the governor to a quarantine centre for hosting a big group at a time the country is fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic but the governor managed to escape after he was tipped by his spies of the impending arrest. A day later part of his security detail was withdrawn by the government which saw the governor claim his life is in danger. Prior to that, the governor had held a meeting at his private office in Upper Hill with State House deputy Chief of Staff – Legal, Constitutional and Legal Affairs – Njee Muturi and Deputy Comptroller George Kariuki but they failed to agree on resolving the stalemate that has seen him refuse to assent to a bill allocating Sh15 billion to NMS. Sonko was also left out when governors from counties hit by the coronavirus, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale, met the president at State House. He instead chose to meet Ruto at his Karen residence. After the meeting, a defiant Sonko vowed to rescind the transfer deed.
But the Northlands City has come under a lot of scrutiny with activist and photojournalist Boniface Mwangi calling out the government for double standards over reclaiming land allegedly belonging to the deputy president in Ruai and yet the Kenyatta family owns huge chunks of land across the country which have not been touched. Two weeks ago, the president started reclaiming over 2,700 acres of public land illegally allocated to private developers within Nairobi. Insiders add that the Kenyatta family in partnership with a French firm also plans to invest in the roll-out of commuter trains in Nairobi once the new city is completed. This comes after the construction of five stations in Ruiru, Kikuyu, Mwiki, Kahawa and Dandora. The family is also eyeing investment in the high-capacity buses for the bus rapid transit (BRT) system once the Northland City is completed. Insiders add that the family plans to partner with a French firm to set up a multi-million power plant at the Dandora dumpsite. Initially, a German investor, Sustainable Environment Management UG had expressed the desire to invest in the project during the tenure of Evans Kidero as governor but pulled out since the county government did not have the title deed for the 30 acres of land. Kidero turned to the Japanese who signed a 15-year agreement to set up the plant expected to generate 40MW every day. There are reports the Kenyatta family will team up with a French company to set up the power plant at Dandora dumpsite.
The developments come at a time ODM party leader Raila Odinga has gone to bed with the government meaning there is no opposition to such projects. Those in the know say Raila’s uncharacteristic silence points to the fact that his mouth is too fully stuffed with Uhuru goodies. Two weeks ago, Raila met Badi for a briefing on the progress of the transition process. The meeting came days after ODM leaders who included Edwin Sifuna and John Aladwa (Makadara MP) almost traded blows at the private office of former MP Jakoyo Midiwo located along Denis Pritt road, Nairobi. There are reports that land in Ngong belonging to Raila’s daughter Rosemary is being developed using state machinery with NYS drilling boreholes on site. Kenyatta family fear is that Sonko was out to block their latest multi- billions Nairobi investments. The move to have Badi team take key control of city services was aimed at enabling the family manage such transactions. Sonko has refused to furnish government with critical documents related to the transferred functions according to a letter from City Hall dated April 29. The letter was after senior officials from City Hall were odered to supply the documents to NMS.
In the letter drafted by Justus Kathenge- the acting county secretary- Nairobi county sounded warning of process of pulling out of the transfer deal citing rampant breach of terms stipulated in the deed of transfer. The letter reads in part: “This is to inform you that I am under firm and clear instructions from His Excellency the governor as chief executive officer of the Nairobi City County Government not to provide any related information”. The Treasury order was via a letter by Joseph Welimo on behalf of the internal auditor. In a follow-up letter, Welimo stated, “Our letter was very clear on which information was required from the four departments and the ancillary services,” the letter read in part. The required documents were to ensure the smooth transfer of the four functions taken over by the government. Documents require are legal framework, outstanding but collectable revenues, pay bill numbers, human resource data, vote book balance, pending bills and project status. The deal which was signed saw Sonko lose key duties in running to NMS including health, transport, public works, planning and management and ancillary services transferred to the national government. The approval of the Kenyatta family has to be approved by planning and management that was moved from Sonko hands. The Bus Rapid Transport and railway which the family wantsto invest were also shifted to NMS just like the waste management that falls under health.