A high court has ruled that Kenya’s Nairobi city council should not collect rates/taxes from more than 3000 traders in Eastleigh division in Nairobi for failing to offer requisite services commensurate to the huge taxes and rates remitted by the business community in the division.
The court ruling was in response to a case filed by three businessmen namely hajji Hussein, Ahmed Abdullahi and Ismail Hassan Maalim against the council accusing it of having failed to deliver mandatory services despite promptly receiving the remittances from traders.
Lady Justice Kalmana Rawal issued a temporary injunction stopping the defendant to collect rates from the plaintiff since the city council failed to provide vital services especially sanitation in Eastleigh area fo Nairobi City.
The Judge said “The plaintiff (traders) said essential services are not offered by the defendant (Nairobi city council) as provided under section 160 of the local government act, I hereby temporarily stop the council from collecting taxes and charges from the plaintiff pending hearing of the case on June 22, 2010.”
Eastleigh which is currently dubbed Nairobi’s business hub is dominated by the Somali community, majority of who are astute business people.
The Eastern part of the city shelters many businesses that closely compete with businesses in Nairobi Central business district. Eastleigh is growing immensely in terms of construction and establishment of new buildings solely for business. But in reality if you observe the sanitary conditions you will deduce that the place has been neglected either deliberately or its development has been viewed as inconsequential.
It is apparent that Eastleigh is one of the filthiest and dirtiest divisions in Nairobi. Its roads are impassable, heaps of uncollected garbage are littered everywhere, poor drainage system, it is land of millionaires living on top of trashes, stinking lavatories and waste of sewer flowing over the paths and roads.
However with colossal revenues levied on these traders little is done by the Council in collecting and disposing of refuse, garbage thereby making the area inhabitable just as other areas that pay rates to city council of Nairobi.
Chairman of Eastleigh business council committee Mr. Hussein haji told BBC on Tuesday that Eastleigh ranks second among areas that pay the largest rates to the council after industrial area. The chairman affirmed that the whole city depends on Eastleigh in terms of clothes and hotels yet its worse than a village in rural setting.
The council of business community in Eastleigh has severally pleading with the government to clean and maintain sanitary services in vain. There are no public lavatories and urinals in Eastleigh unlike other places which might be paying lesser rates. Similarly there is acute scarcity of street lights and foot paths.
Shaafi a trader told the BBC Focus on Africa that ever since the rain season began most of his customers stopped coming to buy goods simply because the roads are impassable, muddy and endless traffic jam brought about by lack of traffic police to man the round about which connects many roads to interior Eastleigh.
Filth, muck and mud here, there … everywhere. Mounds of garbage occupy the sides of roads that are pockmarked with deep craters, mudflats and little black lakes. Plastic bags swirl up and down and side to side along the battered roads, like they are dancing to some unseen evil orchestra. Then there is the human gridlock. And the smell! The pungent odour from the piles of refuse and the filthy waste water in the street,
This is a place called Eastleigh, a squalid neighborhood tucked away in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. It is dominated by Somali refugees and immigrants as well as Kenyan Somalis.
It is a place most of us would describe as a hell on earth. But try telling this to the community of Somali refugees who live here and they will tell you what hell on earth is for them; Mogadishu, Kismayu and everything in Somalia, the battle -ridden country they once called home.
Before the 1990s and the influx of Somali refugees, Eastleigh was little more than a low-income residential community. With the influx of Somali refugees, it was transformed into a bustling commercial center as the enterprising refugees bought up residential blocks, and re-purposed them into multi-million shilling retail outlets.
The hub and cornerstone of this thriving commercial enterprise is the widely-famous “Garissa Lodge,” a famous labyrinth of Somali-owned bazaars, which sells just about everything under the sun at the cheapest prices found anywhere in the country. From perfumes to spices to furniture to textiles to electronics – they are all up for sale at Garissa Lodge.
With all these thriving businesses in Eastleigh and huge money collected by the council from traders there is no prospect of seeing any tangible service offered to the area, Mr. haji informed BBC that the city council of Nairobi collects enough money and they deserve sanitary services the same way such services are rendered to other parts which pay their tariffs.