The project is so dear to Gakuo, who alongside the late Environment minister John Michuki spearheaded theÂ NairobiÂ River clean-up exercise. The former city boss also initially kicked off planting of trees at the site.
And although Mathenge says residents were initially skeptical about the initiative, most of those who spoke to The Standard On Sunday expressed satisfaction about the project. â€œHii mahali ilikuwa imejaa uchafu wa takataka na pia ulikuwa uwanja wa watu kuenda haja kubwa. Sasa unaona mambo ni smart (This place was initially filthy, full of litter and human waste. But it is now very tidy),â€ observes Felix Kirimi, who has lived in Shauri Moyo for the last 30 years.Â Charles Onyango, a clerk at the ablution block concurs: â€œThe environment is not only cleaner but a boost to the jobless youth of Shauri Moyo, most of who were employed during its construction with some retained, like myself.â€
When the ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan advertised for tenders for the project last year, Mathenge applied and won the deal â€“ thanks to her moderate quotation and elaborate professional plan. Mathenge explains how work at the 30 million worth project has not been easy: â€œLocals were hostile to us as they thought we were just another group of the many land grabbers that have over the years tried to over this portion of land.â€
At this point, Mathenge sort the help of local leaders, including the area chief, who was very cooperative. After getting the nod, she involved the locals by engaging their services on short-term basis. In the process, they welcomed and owned the project, including volunteering to offerÂ securityÂ to construction material.
Before the project commenced, the ground was an open field encroached by hawkers, muggers and slum developers.