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County services set to slump as new rates prove elusive

Residents have been told to prepare for mediocre services as County Hall reviews its budget following resistance by Nairobians to  new rates.

Market vendors are the latest group to defy the higher fees imposed under the Finance Act 2013. They joined outdoor advertisers and motorists who have obtained injunctions stopping the hikes on parking fees.

With six months already gone, the county is highly unlikely to meet its target of Sh15.9 billion.

“Some development projects will be affected although we have not identified the projects likely to be pushed forward,” said Finance Executive Gregory Mwakanongo.

Some of the key projects that had been budgeted for and may now have to be postponed include: construction of sewer lines in Kayole and Mathare North, a Sh200 million centre for street families, rehabilitation of 21 social halls, rehabilitation of roads and drainages and other ward development projects.

The county authorities had also planned to buy more garbage trucks to improve collection from the current 55 per cent, install street lights for better security, rehabilite City Hall Annexe and construct a house for the governor among others.

Mr Mwakanongo said the most immediate concern is curbing the wage bill, which consumes Sh830 million monthly.

Currently, the county public service board is looking at the job structures and is expected to come up with a report by April.

The Budget Implementation Review report by the controller of budget, Ms Agnes Odhiambo, shows that the county  collected Sh1.2 billion in the first three months of the financial year and spent only Sh459 million (16 per cent of total expenditure) for development.

Wages gobbled Sh1.8 billion (65 per cent), an average of Sh600 million per month, but this has gone up after the county implemented a workers comprehensive bargaining agreement beginning September.

Notably, county representatives were paid Sh113 million in sitting allowances, nearly a quarter of the amount spent on development despite only passing six bills.

“Nairobi County is expected to refund Sh1.2 billion to the national government for salaries paid in the first quarter to staff seconded to the County for the devolved functions,” adds the report.

This could, however, lead to another round of controversy as Governor Evans Kidero recently said that an audit found only 2,900 workers.