How Covid-19 has affected City Hall’s operations
The once busy City Hall is now reeling from the effects of Covid-19 necessitating changes in operations at the county government with a number of measures put in place to control the spread of the virus.
Acting County Secretary Justus Kathenge said a duty roster for each department has been introduced to reduce crowding and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Mr Kathenge said that with the duty roster and depending on the workload, City Hall staff report to office twice or three times a week with the latter being those who offer essential services like in human resource, fire department, finance and those dealing with compliance.
Those in administration who are required to report to the office daily, as such offices cannot be closed, he stated, now report to work from 9.30am to avoid instances when public transport is crowded and is in its peak and are also released as early as 3pm before the peak hour.
“There has been a scare as you don’t know who has it and who doesn’t considering we have a huge workforce and if that number is allowed to congregate together then it would be a disaster,” said Mr Kathenge.
City Hall in May had a scare when a staff at the procurement department tested positive for Covid-19 leading to drastic measures being put in place.
Nairobi Health Executive Hitan Majevdia said Covid-19 has had far-reaching effects on operations at City Hall as the county tries to keep the spread of the virus at bay.
The long queues at City Hall have vanished, working in shifts for staff introduced and it has become mandatory to have face masks as well as to sanitise.
“A sanitising booth has been erected at the entrance of City Hall with social gatherings discouraged,” he said.
On residents seeking for services at City Hall, especially in cash and rates offices, Mr Kathenge said they have introduced online payments through banks and use M-Pesa paybill number or agents to reduce the long queues in City Hall.
Interactions in offices have also been limited where residents are only allowed in when it is a must they have to come to City Hall for instance when one has a query where a search of information has to be undertaken to confirm if there is discrepancy in payment.
“You must have a face mask to get into City Hall. We also do periodic fumigation of offices and where we have any reported positive case, people are not allowed to come to work and colleagues of the positive case are requested to isolate for 14 days,” he said.
The assembly side has also not left behind in instituting new measures to conform to the crisis that the country faced that saw the assembly suspended on March 16, 2020 by Speaker Beatrice Elachi at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The assembly has also come up with measures since resuming on June 2, 2020 from close to three months of recess, to guide operations at the assembly going forward.
The committees have gone virtual, save for crucial ones, no press conferences inside the assembly precincts and even the number of journalists accessing the assembly has been reduced.
“The number of days we used to attend plenaries have changed. We do not attend on Wednesdays as it used to be,” says Minority Leader David Mberia.
As part of the guidelines, only 42 out of the 122 MCAs are allowed into the Chambers with only the House leadership allowed entry into every sitting while the rest having to alternate to give each member equal opportunity to attend the plenary.
The assembly borrowed from the National Assembly and is now having two sessions in the morning and afternoon on Tuesdays and an afternoon session on Thursdays with Wednesdays left for fumigation of the chamber.