Ruto announces grand plan to clean up Nairobi River

William Ruto

President William Ruto has announced a grand plan to clean up Nairobi City and restore the “filthy” capital to its former glory.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto has announced a grand plan to clean up Nairobi City and restore the “filthy” capital to its former glory.

The ambitious plan will be driven by the Nairobi River Commission which will be unveiled by the Head of State on Friday.

The Nairobi River Commission, which will be tasked with coordinating the cleanup of the Nairobi River and its environs, will be spearheaded by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

It will have individuals drawn from the national government, the Nairobi County government and the private sector. Environment Cabinet Secretary Ms Soipan Tuya and Nairobi Deputy Governor Njoroge Muchiri are some of the notable names.

President Ruto said the new development is aimed at reorganising the city and raising it to standards befitting a capital city.

Speaking at the Tatu City Special Economic Zone during the official opening of the Twiga Food distribution centre, Dr Ruto said there was no turning back in the bid to reclaim Nairobi and transform it into a city of dignity for the millions of residents.

Getting rid of sewage

He said the national government will work closely with the county government led by Governor Johnson Sakaja to achieve that dream.

The President explained that the dream is to sort out the filth in the capital city and make Nairobi a place where people can enjoy it and enterprises can grow by getting rid of sewage and all other effluents that are going into the city's rivers.

“If you look at our rivers in Nairobi, it is a sad story and I want to assure the residents of Nairobi that we will make the Nairobi River what it should be,” said President Ruto.

“Thank you (Sakaja) for working with my deputy to ensure that we agree with all stakeholders to set up the Nairobi Rivers Commission so that we can sort out our rivers in the city,” he added.

Mr Gachagua said no effort will be spared to return the Nairobi River to its natural state, intimating that people will have to be relocated in the process.

The DP, however, assured those to be affected that they will be given an alternative source of livelihood.

He pointed out that the Kenya Kwanza administration has the political will, zeal and passion to see the process through and reclaim the river from its current state.

Decades of neglect

“The Nairobi River has over the years been exposed to different levels of pollution. This is unacceptable, and the quality of life of those who live next to it lacks dignity,” said the DP after meeting members of the commission last week Thursday.

The Nairobi rivers system has suffered decades of neglect with the dumping of human and industrial waste as well as encroachment with more than 4,000 structures built along the riparian reserve threatening the existence of many rivers.

Attempts to clean up the rivers and especially the Nairobi River starting with the Nairobi Basin Programme in 1999 have borne little fruits.

There was a similar attempt to clean up the river between 2001 and 2003 but this too never bore any fruits.

In 2007, some Sh150 million was pumped into the rehabilitation of the 2.5km stretch from the Museum Hill roundabout to the Racecourse Road bridge.

In 2009, former Environment Minister John Michuki was praised for reviving the river before it went back to its sorry state.

Ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta also formed the Nairobi Regeneration programme, a multi-agency team, spearheaded by former Environment CS Keriako Tobiko to clean up the filthy river basin.