The Nairobi stakeholders association, WE Care About Nairobi DO- IT (a.k.a (WECANDOIT) held a meeting at Sarit Centre on Monday, to update residents on their two lawsuits against the Nairobi City Council (NCC). In case No. 1 they claim the City’s 2005 rate increase is arbitrary and illegal, and in Case No. 2 they charge that, since NCC is not providing services to Nairobian's it is not entitled to collect rates from them. These cases will be heard later this month. Other titbits from the Q&A session that followed:
- NCC may be in contempt of Court since it placed and avert asking residents to pay their rates by June 2005, in exchange for a 3% discount, which only applies if you pay the disputed 2005 rates. The NCC has also contracted the Kenya Revenue Authority to collect land rates from them in exchange for a 1.5% fee. When the initial lawsuit was filed, the Judge issued a 'stay order' halting the increase until the case was heard.
- City valuations are arbitrary: The Chairlady’s neighbour had his land valued, and pays rates at Kshs. 5 million an acre, even though he’s been unable to sell any of it at 1m/acre. She herself has been asked to pay 300,000 for her Kitusuru land valued at 36 million, even though it does not have a serviceable road to it. She’s willing to pay her land rates, but wants to see some basic services come out of that money.
- Sellers and developers of land are not getting approval for their plans, until they pay the new rates.
- To dispute a land rate, a resident must first pay a non-refundable 500-shilling fee, regardless of the amount he’s disputing. WECANDOIT is also challenging this. Rates are .6% for residential and 1.5% for commercial land, per year – but the NCC has the power to arbitrarily raise them to 4%.
- There’s actually a non-functioning “ward committee” who are supposed to regulate and license any kiosk before it can operate anywhere in the City. WECANDOIT also supports devolution of powers, and revenue collection, to wards since that has proven to be more effective
- So far the association’s Justice Fund has received contributions amounting to 750,000 from residents shillings to fund the lawsuits. They also have some top-notch lawyers working on the case and have also received complementary advertising and meeting space from the Nation and Sarit Centre respectively.
- Good news: Even though some residents have been charged for garbage collection and sewerage on their bills (services they NEVER ever receive), a visit/complaint to City Hall can get the charge stopped.
- Bad news: Nairobi Water Corporation staff are going round claiming, they have ‘power to arrest’ residents who have (they say) tampered with water meters – in order to induce bribes
- Worse news: Policemen are stopping & threatening to arrest Nairobi drivers who drive without seatbelts or shoes, with tinted windows or bull bars on their cars, or for over-speeding – in order to induce bribes
- Quote of the day: from the Chairlady In Kenya today, the government is using 1st world laws to govern a 6th world country. We didn’t mind when they used 3rd world laws to govern what was then a 3rd world county
- Unfortunate fact: In a room of about 100 people, there were only about 5 Miro’s.
You can contact WECANDOIT at kinanda@ wananchi.com