Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has criticised Kieni MP Kanini Kega for taking credit for equipment worth Sh300 million that is being installed at Naromoru Hospital.
The hospital is the first of its kind in Mr Kega’s constituency.
Mr Kahiga told Mr Kega to channel his efforts elsewhere to support his ‘crumbling’ political career.
In an interview with the Nation, the governor said Mr Kega had drilled a borehole at the hospital of his own volition, noting that his administration is “appreciative of his efforts” and for any lobbying he has done with the national government.
But he noted that he initiated the building of the Level Four facility in 2019 after the county was ranked second in the World Banks’s Kenya Development Support Programme (KDSP) rating.
“We got an initial amount of Sh229 million to run a project of our choice and [were] later given an additional Sh189 million and that is how I chose to build a hospital in Kieni because I knew the two sides of Kieni and Tetu sub-county did not have a hospital,” he said.
Hospital yet to be launched
He added that the hospital is yet to be launched, as a morgue, laundry room and kitchen that are essential for a Level Four hospital needed to be built.
For his part, Mr Kega said he lobbied President Uhuru Kenyatta for Sh300 million to purchase hospital equipment so that it would start operating after the building works were completed.
“A hospital is not the structure … equipment at the facility is being installed through my intervention and by August the hospital will be up and running,” he said, noting that President Kenyatta would launch the facility by the end of July.
But Governor Kahiga corrected him, noting that health is a devolved function.
“Let us restrict ourselves to our constitutional mandates … he should focus on construction of roads and primary schools in his constituency, which are very dilapidated,” noted Mr Kahiga.
Funded by World Bank
He said the hospital was funded by the World Bank and the national government with oversight from the county government.
There has been conflict between the two leaders as each claims credit for the three-storey hospital with a 175-bed capacity.
Governor Kahiga said that before Mr Kega went public with the claim that he had lobbied for the Sh300 million, the county chief had received information from Health CS Mutahi Kagwe that Sh250 million had been released for the hospital.
“In fact, when the President was at Dedan Kimathi University during the launch of the microchip laboratory, I was there with the President and CS Kagwe and both the Nyeri and Kieni MPs when I asked for assistance [to complete] the hospital, and he pledged the amount,” he said.
But Mr Kega maintained he was not trying to usurp the role of the county government, saying the devolved unit and the national government should work together to ensure residents get the most from the leaders they elected.
“Let it be clear it does not help to use the facility for political expediency,” he noted.
This is the second time the governor and the MP are engaged in a verbal exchange over the facility.
The governor says he thought the fund for equipping the sub-county facility was under the Managed Equipment Scheme, where machines are leased out to counties and they are mandated to pay a percentage gradually.
"It was out of the goodwill of the President. It is not a debt that needs to be paid," said Mr Kega.
In 2019, Kieni residents ranked third among patients visiting the outpatient department at Nyeri Referral Hospital, according to data from the health department.
The hospital is key due to the high number of road accidents that occur on the Nyeri-Nanyuki highway and patients must be taken over 58km to reach a facility either in Nyeri or Nanyuki.
There are plans to build a similar hospital in Kiawara in Keini West and an eye hospital in Tetu.