To the residents of Umoja and Buruburu estates, perhaps one thing signifies the fall of Nairobi City County Governor Mike Sonko; Sonko Road.
A stretch of roach that cuts the distance for pedestrians (closed now for vehicular traffic) between Buruburu and Umoja Estates.
Sonko Road which was previously for many years the larger part of Mutindwa Market was renovated and tarmacked by Mike Sonko.
As Makadara Member of Parliament (2007), Sonko had built kiosks, given money to youths to start business and was the darling of many Nairobians from Eastlands.
He quickly rose to the helm, becoming a Senator (2013) and then the Governor in charge of the city’s affairs in 2017.
His end could not be foreseen the way it turned out. Some quarters had even entertained thoughts of him becoming the President of Kenya.
Sonko’s influence shined out more when in his role as a Senator, the shadowy Sonko Rescue Team (SRT) became well known, offering services like funeral and hospital transportation, water supplies and security to residents of the larger Eastlands.
His boys used to patrol all night in and around Makadara in top of the range vehicles which included Land Rover discovery etc.
People began to question the source of his wealth but that did not deter him from capturing the city with over half a million votes.
As an MP, he made sure the all-weather dirt road that starts at the junction of Rabai road, where the Metropolitan Hospital Buruburu stands is renovated and uplifted. Actually, this is where Sonko road starts.
Traders at the Mutindwa market were also asked to move so as to extend the new road to its full length, to join Outering Road.
He, like any other leader who comes from sleeze and shadowy business activities named the new road after himself.
Sonko road became a useful road in cutting the traffic snarl up that Jogoo road near the Donholm Roundabout was characteristic of. Renovation of Sonko road also removed the hussle of stepping in the dingy, small and muddy pathways that traders had left for pedestrians oscillating between Umoja and Buruburu estates.
However, as he firmly controlled Nairobi, Sonko forgot his Constituency, the people that had voted him in Makadara, the people that loved him in Eastlands. The people that believed in his NARC – Kenya, a small party manifesto. Sonko floored some bigwigs from Nairobi to clinch the Makadara seat. His first try in politics.
Towards the end of his term as Senator (2016), his Governor Evans Kidero knocked down all stalls at the Mutindwa Market. This angered traders, and Sonko did not say a word to contradict this or help ‘his people’.
Mutindwa Market has seen more demolitions in the past. But Kidero’s was fast, ruthless and all destructive. In the past, only parts of the market were destroyed.
Enter Sonko as Governor (2018), he continued Kidero’s policies as pertains to the market. Mutindwa never recovered especially with regards to constructing the stall near the perimeter wall of Bidii Primary School.
Covid-19 as a game-changer
The respiratory disease from China, Sars-Cov2 or Covid-19 which smote Kenya since March became a game-changer in the affairs of Mutindwa Market.
Whereas the illegal regime of Uhuru Kenyatta had found resistance, through courts, in regenerating Nairobi (through the Nairobi Metropolitan Improvement Program). It used the excuse of curfew to do so.
President Uhuru Kenyatta usurped power and grabbed the chance to appoint a military man, Mohamed Badi, to head an illegal outfit known as Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). NMS took over some functions of the city and Sonko who was facing corruption charges thought that by signing to Kenyatta’s new model of running Nairobi, he would be spared the sack
People houses were demolished at night and new installations planted. Swathes of land fenced off.
It is in the melee that Sonko road disappeared as fast as it came.
A few months ago, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) demolished all stalls on the side of Outering Road, ostensibly to pave way for a new railway station. There are no signs that this will be built after all.
Sonko road was blocked from emptying into Outering Road. There were rumours that it has been closed permanently. Those rumours have confirmed true when traders from Mutindwa Market went back to build on top of the road, bringing the market to where it was in before Sonko Road came into existence.
The only difference is the wire fencing that Bidii primary has currently designated to separate its walls from the market stalls. It is a futile precaution to save the young pupils from the conniving traders who take advantage of school children, selling to then drugs and sex.
In a functional country, Sonko road would not have been closed, but Mutindwa Market should have been done away with, completely.
The market sits precariously between a university and a primary school.
It seemed KAG East African School of Theology (EAST) University didn’t see any need to chase the traders away, when Bidii Primary did and succeeded. This gave them power to fight and come back.
As at now, after the impeachment of Governor Mike Sonko, I reflect that his fall was inevitable, symbolised his lame-duck manner, uncharacteristic of him, in which he has conducted himself not saving Sonko Road, not standing with traders when Nairobi under Kidero came knocking with bulldozers. Forgetting his roots, Eastlands and his mannerisms.
It was unlike Sonko to leave the decision to KRC. In the past, Sonko would be standing with residents; protesting the closure of the road named after him. He didn’t.
As Sonko road gets covered by traders selling clothes, shoes and vegetable, even drugs and prostitution. The end is actually here for Sonko, one of the most exciting Nairobi politician in recent times.
Covering news about Eastlands especially Umoja, Kayole and Buruburu estates