On Wednesday, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko came under fire when he posted photos of a rehabilitated section of the Nairobi River.
In his post, the county head claimed that the riparian area, in Korogocho,Â which was heavily pollutedÂ was rehabilitated via the administration’sÂ efforts and transformed into a park for locals and visitors to enjoy.
“The new look of Nairobi river riparian land in Korogocho area, Embakasi North Sub-County after we rehabilitated the place to create a recreational park for locals and visitors,” he posted.
However, a youth group has come out to refute claims that the county government was involved in the rehabilitation of the parkÂ adding that theÂ governor had takenÂ credit for their work.
Speaking to kenyagist.com,Â Magazine Mazingira YetuÂ Sam Dindi explained that the County government was not involved in the restoration of the park and it was not fair in taking credit for the youth efforts.
He explained that the move to restore the heavily polluted areaÂ was initiated by jobless youth whoÂ were looking for activities to take part in to avoid engaging in vices such as crime and prostitution.
“A slum upgrading program in 2017 entailed the construction of a new bridge connecting Korogocho and Dandora. Young people from Korogocho were employed in itâ€™s construction as labourers and security officers. The bridge was completed by December 2017 rendering all the young people involved in itâ€™s construction jobless.
“Itâ€™s at this juncture that the young people from Korogocho decided to remove the dumpsite to create a space they could rest without being harassed by police or being looked suspiciously by the public,” he told this writer on the phone.
Led by Fredrick Okinda, Christopher Waithaka and Mzee Muchina they mobilized 24 young people to form Komb Green Solutions and start removing the solid waste.
Within a year they were able to clear the waste and create the only green space along Nairobi River and in October 2018 they the park was named “The peopleâ€™s park”Â and opened to the public.
Starting with 24 youth, the group has grown to 69 members where they have been able to embarkÂ on various initiatives like building gabions along the river bank, training the local youth on riparian ecosystem restoration and they have even formed aÂ savings and credit chamaa.
Sam explained that the County head’s involvement came in with the restoration of Nairobi River project which only focussed on cleaning the neighbourhood and the river but not the rehabilitation of the park.
“Since he came to office, the park has not been expanded and no value has been added. He could have replicated it elsewhere, but he’s just riding on something that has been done.
“They are not addressing the root causes of the sources of pollution of the river. People in Korogocho don’t have toilets, so all the fecal matter is poured in the river. They are not fixing that, and so they doing nothing,” he conveyed.