Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has launched an operation to flush out street urchins from the city’s Central Business District.
The governor said that the operation was in line with his campaign pledge to ensure street children are taken out of the streets to orphanages and rehabilitation centres in the county.
“As a county government we promised to remove all street families from our streets, we have started an operation in line with my campaign manifesto that promised rehabilitation of street families in order to secure their future,” said Sonko after launching the operation on Tuesday night.
The exercise was led by the county government’s Environment Rapid Response Team.
Sonko said that the rescued street children will receive treatment of their addiction at the rehabilitation centers in the county as well as get life skills including enrolling in school, adding that the initiative to rehabilitate street children will be continuous under his administration.
Many street children are drug addicts who sniff glue, smoke bhang and inject other hard drugs.
“The rescued street children will receive treatment of their drug addiction in the rehabilitation centers and we will also train the older ones on life skills and enroll the young ones in schools,” he said.
Nairobi is one of the towns in the country with the highest number of street families running into thousands and their presence in the streets has been blamed for increase in petty crime and muggings in the city besides also being a nuisance for their begging habits.
The City Hall boss said that the county will install additional CCTV and increase street lighting to aid in the fight against upsurge in crime in the capital city.
But this is not the first time an attempt has been made to get the street families off the streets of the capital city.
The NARC government in 2003, as part of its promises to the people of Kenya before the 2002 General Elections, introduced a street children rehabilitation programme led by the National Youth Service to guide and provide the street children with skills to make them self-reliant.
It embarked on the programme of removing the youth from the streets of Nairobi City and opened many rehabilitation centres, amongst them being the Bahati Reception Centre, Pumwani Reception Centre, Kibera’s Joseph Kangethe Reception Centre and the National Youth Service all in Nairobi.
The rehabilitation centers were to reform and make the street urchins fit in society, provide guidance and counselling to the youth, training in semi-skilled trades, spiritual and physical nourishment, food, clothing and shelter among others.
But even with all the efforts, nothing major came out of the program.
Even the past Nairobi County leadership in April this year under the leadership of former Governor Dr Evans Kidero, in collaboration with the national government and the County Inspectorate, failed in its efforts to rid the city streets of the street families after conducting daily crackdowns which nabbed over 130 street children.
The children were taken to Joseph Kangethe Rehabilitation Centre but have since found their way back to the streets with their numbers alarmingly on the rise recently.
This begs the question whether this operation will be a success.
Meanwhile, the governor has said he will transform Nairobi despite all the challenges he is currently facing in his administration.
He said that his administration has already commenced massive projects aimed at changing the face of the county such as beautification of streets, renovating roads within and without the city centre, automating revenue streams, relocating hawkers and traffic decongestion in the city among other projects.
“For those who think that I will not deliver will be shocked. I will focus on service delivery to the citizens. I have launched most projects like garbage collections, road constructions, keeping Nairobi green like planting of flowers and grasses,” said Sonko.