Uhuru pushes for projects’ completion in Mt Kenya base

Interior PS Karanja Kibicho introduces members of the National Development Implementation Committee to the residents of Chuka in Tharaka Nithi County on October 15, 2020.

Photo credit: John Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Dr Ruto has maintained he will not stop supporting religious organisations and youth empowerment activities, despite criticisms on his activities.
  • In the Tharaka Nithi tour, Dr Kibicho asked the contractor working on the 28.7km Chuka-Kaareni Road out of site by Monday for delaying in completing the project that links Chuka town to the county headquarters at Kathwana.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday dispatched his deputy chief of staff Ruth Kagia and more than 10 principal secretaries to inspect and take charge of development projects in Mt Kenya counties, catching contractors and State officers unawares.

They toured Tharaka Nithi, the first among similar and carefully crafted tours to be held in other Mt Kenya counties. The Head of State appears keen to regain his political foothold by completing projects many believe will catalyse development in the region.

Mt Kenya comprises Nyeri, Murang’a, Embu, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties.

The officials’ visits have also been interpreted as a move to curtail DP William Ruto’s forays into the region.

Mr Ruto’s initiatives, especially for the youth, have been criticised as tokenism. The DP, who has faced continued attacks for his style of politics, has occasionally said his hustler movement was unstoppable and that he would continue to engage the ordinary folk.

Dr Ruto has maintained he will not stop supporting religious organisations and youth empowerment activities, despite criticisms on his activities.

Socio-economic development

But by having the deputy chief of staff, strategy and policy, who has been at the centre of formulating and driving the government’s political and socio-economic development programmes, hit the ground, the President’s message is largely construed to mean that he is keen on completion of his legacy projects.

While she rarely attracts publicity like her colleagues in the Office of the President, Mrs Kagia has been playing key roles behind the scenes in government affairs.

The high-level delegation that visited projects in Tharaka, Maara and Chuka/Igamba Ng’ombe constituencies, was also led by Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho, who chairs the National Development Implementation Technical Committee.

Principal secretaries present were Mary Kimonye (Public service), Joseph Njoroge (Energy), Simon Nabukwesi (University education), Ambassador Kirimi Kabeeria (Mining), and Micheni Ntiba (Fisheries and Blue Economy). Others were Nicholas Muraguri (Land), Charles Hinga (Housing), Irungu Wairagu (Water), Gordon Kihalangwa (Public Works), Jerome Ochieng (ICT) and Julius Korir (Youth).

Also in the team was Governor Muthomi Njuki and MPs Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Patrick Munene (Chuka Igamba Ngombe, Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) and Woman representative Beatrice Nkatha.

Dr Kibicho appeared to rally Mt Kenya residents into supporting the Building Bridges Initiative, noting “it offers lasting solutions to their problems and that is where real change to better Kenya and its political landscape, economy, and proper leadership is”.

“This country has achieved a lot on unity and we cannot afford to allow all that flashed down the drain. It is time for Kenyans to have a conversation and come up with proper institutions that protect and cater for their rights,” said Dr Kibicho.

The PS indicated that the President was personally interested in addressing residents’ development concerns even as his second and final term approaches the end.

Stalled infrastructure

He said in his Mt Kenya backyard, the President was keen on completing stalled infrastructure projects linking different counties. Also targeted are sectors that directly impact locals including transport and imports.

Dr Kibicho’s committee, which reports directly to National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, supervises all government projects and programmes, receives and deliberates on reports of their implementation and also provides guidance on appropriate measures to address challenges of implementation.

It also provides coordinated communication to the public on the project implementation.

In the Tharaka Nithi tour, Dr Kibicho asked the contractor working on the 28.7km Chuka-Kaareni Road out of site by Monday for delaying in completing the project that links Chuka town to the county headquarters at Kathwana. Since its construction in 2015, only 6.5km have been tarmacked despite the contractor being paid close to Sh200 million.

“The national government will not continue to be held ransom by contractors. We will not allow contractors who are on and off site because we are here for solutions. No more pingpong games,” Dr Kibicho said, warning the government will not entertain companies using courts to hold back the country.

kkimanthi@ke.nationmedia.com and amwenda@ke.nationmedia.com