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Mike Sonko: We were never consulted over increment in parking fees

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MATATUSTRIKEA row over parking fees for Nairobi County returned to Parliament with Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko disagreeing with a report that indicated that the charges were arrived at after wide consultations.

Senator Sonko (TNA) who tabled a copy of the County Assemblies resolutions on the matter accused the governor of misleading the House.

“It is not true that there is no substantial increment of the parking fee. It was resolved that the county intended to increase the parking fee by 30 per cent. But, I have receipts here showing that some public service vehicles were paying Sh 8,000 up from Sh 3,000. Is this a 30 per cent increase?” Senator Sonko asked.

He said that the County Finance Act of 2013 that the governor was relying on to justify the increased parking fees was unconstitutional because it was not as a result of public participation, as required in law.

“The governor never involved the public and me as the Senator for Nairobi in the enactment of the Finance Act. He just wrote to me after the matatu operators went on strike. He was involving me after everything had transpired,” Mr Sonko said.

But Senate Majority Leader, Prof Kithure Kindiki (TNA) said contrary to claims by Senator Sonko who had sought a statement over the matter, the parking fees reflect the Nairobi County Assembly resolutions and are contained in the County’s Finance Act.

Senator Kindiki said registration number plates were removed from vehicles that obstructed traffic and business within the county on March 5, following the intervention of the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

A section of matatu operators who were dissatisfied with the increased parking fees became chaotic and obstructed roads prompting some traders to close their business premises out of fear that violence would erupt.

NUMBER PLATES

“This was a dangerous crime that is capable of causing losses to businesses and Nairobi City County. The Inspector General ordered the removal and surrender of the number plates of vehicles obstructing public roads.

We are grateful for quick action taken by police,” the statement signed by Nairobi Governor, Dr Evans Kidero read in part.

Prof Kindiki said though the Nairobi City Country Assembly had passed the Finance Bill 2013, which stipulates the approved charges; there was room for consultations with relevant parties in line with constitutional provisions.

Though the parking fees issue was dismissed by the High court and an appeal is still pending at the Court of Appeal, the court declined to grant an injunction and ordered the matatu operators to pay the new parking fees as they wait for the outcome of their application.

However, Prof Kindiki observed that the matatu operators decided to disrupt operations in Nairobi City prompting the police action that was meant to restore order and ensure innocent Kenyans do not continue suffering.

He further said that the Nairobi City County had no plans to withdraw the traffic marshals that control traffic within the County because transport functions had been devolved to counties and they were doing a good job as there were no complaints about their operations.

Senator Sonko used the opportunity to unleash another damning report from the office of the Auditor General that indicated that revenue funds amounting to a quarter a billion had been misappropriated by some County officials.

He said that as the parking issue is referred to the relevant committee, the Senate Public Accounts Committee should also be invited to investigate the alleged financial scam.

The Speaker Ekwee Ethuro terminated the matter saying the rules of the House does not allow a member to challenge a statement but can only seek clarifications. He referred the matter to the Finance Committee where the emerging issues would be comprehensively handled.-nation.co.ke

Striking matatu touts force a woman out of a taxi during the Nairobi matatu strike on March 5, 2014. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | FILE

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