Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has suspended 16 officials, among them, Finance and Economic Planning County Executive Committee (CEC) member Charles Kerich and his Health counterpart Mohammed Dagane over Monday’s tragedy at Precious Talents School in Ngando Ward in which eight pupils were killed and dozens injured.
Sonko said the decision will facilitate impartial investigations that have commenced into classrooms collapse incident and the conclusion of an ongoing comprehensive systems audit in the Urban Planning Department.
He blamed the tragedy on impunity that was spearheaded by a few rogue officials within the department. Kerich is the immediate former CEC, Lands and Urban Planning while Dagane is in charge of general public health and safety.
Kerich, a former editor at The Star, was also recently appointed to oversee other county executives and coordinate City Hall’s projects and programmes, a move that appeared to cement the perception that he was Sonko’s favourite CEC member.
However, the two are said to have since fallen apart with the governor threatening him with the sack.
“I am convinced beyond doubt that drastic measures have to be taken to reverse the effects of years of flouting Physical Planning Regulations and restore order and sanity, before illegal structures claim more lives as has repeatedly happened before,” he said in a statement.
Sonko has appointed Pauline Kahiga to replace Kerich in an acting capacity while Veska Kangogo makes a comeback as the Acting CECM Health with immediate effect.
Also affected are Justus Kathenge, the County Chief Officer for Urban Planning, who has been in suspension, Jusper Ndeke (Director, Planning Compliance and Enforcement), Dominic Mutegi (Development Management Director), Ochanda Ondari Fredrick (Assistant Director, Enforcement), Ruth Waruguru (Director, Urban Planning) and Thomas Dudi (Assistant Director, Planning).
Others are Simon Onyango, Development Officer (regularization of buildings/approval of architectural plans); Alex Mucheru, Development Control (overseeing approvals of buildings and schools on behalf of public health and safety); Mackline Saitera, Development Control (approval of building plans and school inspection); Edna Guantai, In-charge of approval of public buildings and schools on behalf of public health; Joyce Kyengo, Dagoretti South Sub-County Administrator; Lucy Wairimu Munyika, Dagoretti South Sub-County Commander; Sylivia Mwikali Nthinga, Dagoretti South Sub-County Planning Officer; and Okal Kennedy, Ngando Ward Administrator.
“As I have stated countless times before, my administration shall not condone or tolerate any form of corruption, incompetence or lethargy that may jeopardize the lives of, or negatively affect service delivery to, Nairobi residents in any way whatsoever,” said Sonko.
“Every official in my administration must be ready to take personal responsibility for their sector and work, and be prepared to carry their own cross just as I am always ready to carry my own and assume overall responsibility as County CEO,” added the governor.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations has already launched investigations into the tragedy which occurred after the weight of the two-storeyed building overwhelmed the weak structure that was not properly supported and collapsed.
However, the owner of the school, Moses Wainaina blamed the county government, saying it dug a sewer line behind the classrooms which weakened their foundations.
The school was shut down on Monday by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha until Monday to allow for an audit of its safety standards.
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