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Nyeri, Embu leaders and residents say Central Kenya is not neglected under Uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta launches Karatina Market hub, in Nyeri county / PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta launches Karatina Market hub, in Nyeri county / PSCU

Nyeri county leadership has disagreed with claims by some Jubilee MPs that the Mt. Kenya region has been neglected under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.

Governor Mutahi Kahiga said those blaming the President for allegedly neglecting the area should not purport to speak for the entire region. Kahiga said Nyeri has benefited development wise since area elected leaders visited Uhuru at State House Nairobi in August.

The county has been picked to pilot Universal Health Coverage alongside Kisumu, Machakos and Isiolo.

In this regard, the national government has already released over Sh780 million for the implementation of the programme in Nyeri.

Othaya Hospital has also been upgraded to a Teaching and Referral Hospital, and will now be managed by the national government.

After the State House visit, Uhuru visited the county, where he commissioned the expansion of Nyaribo Airstrip and opened the Karatina market, whose completion had delayed for years..

Out of 31 coffee growing counties, Nyeri was also selected to pilot reforms in the sector, which has been neglected for decades in some areas.

The national government has set aside Sh1 billion to buy subsidised fertiliser, which is being distributed to farmers to help improve coffee production.

“So let us allow those complaining about their counties being neglected to do so. But they should not speak on behalf of Nyeri,” Kahiga said.

However, there are projects the President either promised or commissioned during the 2017 campaigns are yet to start or have stalled due to lack of financing, according to local grassroots leaders.

They include the Sh1 billion Chaka market and Ruring’u stadium.

Projects promised by the government but are yet to start include the Dedan Kimathi University Innovation Hub, a cancer centre, the six Sh200 billion mega dams in Kieni and the Kennol-Isiolo dual carriageway.

Steve Nderi, a youth leader in Nyeri, said more efforts are needed to ensure the projects are completed and put to use.

Nderi said most of the initiated projects only exist on paper.

“Development is not development if mwananchi cannot feel the impact,” he said.

He said people are angry with Uhuru, while it is the elected leaders who have failed him.

“If elected leaders fail, they will also fail their party leader and vice versa,“ he said, adding that local leaders have been unable to lobby for projects.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu in whose constituency Nyaribo Airstrip and Ruring’u stadium are, said Uhuru is very accessible to all leaders interested in discussing development.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said other than opening the market, the national government has tarmacked roads in his constituency.

About 60km of road worth Sh2.2 billion are expected to be done this year. In addition the government will construct mega dams in the area to end perennial water problems and Sh1.2 billion has been set aside for the same and the tender has been awarded to an Israeli company.

“They will be arriving in January to construct three dams at Mt Kenya, which will harvest rain water and storing it,” he said.

Nine water tanks will also be constructed. Othaya MP Gichuki Mugambi said the national government has released a budget for recurrent expenditures to run Othaya Hospital.

Medical workers will also be posted to the hospital, and the facility is expected to be officially open by the president in February.

The government has also set aside Sh2 billion for the construction of Othaya roads,” he said.

EMBU

In Embu, some of the pre-election promises are in different stages of implementation, although some have not started.

This scenario has thus led to local leaders and residents to have mixed reactions on whether Embu county, which is in the Mt Kenya region, has benefited from Uhuru’s presidency.

Some of the major promises include improvement of the health sector, especially the level Five and Level fours, to avoid a hustle of seeking treatment form other counties.

Residents were also promised roads to connect all the four constituencies — Manyatta, Runyenjes, Mbeere North and Mbeere South — with over 150km of tarmacked ring road. Residents were also promised a polytechnic in each of the three constituencies, and four mega dams to facilitate irrigation in the county. This, in particular, was in two semi-arid Mbeere North and South constituencies.

Rural electrification was another foremost promise that was given during the campaigns.

Residents say they are satisfied with the health sector, especially with the improved Embu Level Five Teaching and Referral Hospital where the national government through grants and in conjunction with the county has built facilities and equipped to facilitate treatment of diseases that could not be done there such as cancer, renal diseases and various types of scanning. Level 4 hospitals have also been improved.

“The improvement of Embu Level 5 hospital and the other hospital by the national government and the county has been a relief to residents, who have been travelling far to seek services,” Mercy Njiru, a resident, said.

Residents, however, complain of lack of drugs, which the county says is working on.

The ring road is about 60 per cent complete but there have been complaints in some constituencies, where they say very little has been done in their areas. In some instances like in Mbeere South residents have demanded for replacement of contractors doing the job.

Construction of polytechnics has started, with the one in Mbuvori area in Manyatta at an advanced stage. The Karurumo one in Runyenjes is complete and operational, while land has been bought to build the one in Siakago, Mbeere North.

“Manyatta Polytechnic at Mbukori is 60 percent complete and very soon learning will start so that the youth can start being empowered to be self reliant, or get employment for sel development,” Evans Mbogo, the National Constituency Development Fund chairman, Manyatta, said.

Markets and public schools are now connected to power.

“We are happy that in most places in the county, power is available and most public schools have electricity thus easing learning for pupils,” Alexander Mundigi, a Senate aspirant in 2017 election said.

However, none of the dams ha started and this is one of the reasons some leaders are complaining about Uhuru’s administration.

“We seriously need water for domestic use. All efforts should be made to solve this problem once and for all and dams be constructed for this purpose.Alternatively, we can be provided with water from the seven Forks hydroelectricity dams,” Embu County Assembly Minority leader Masters Lenny Mwaniki said.

Some argue that the overwhelming support the county gave to Uhuru does not commensurate with development in the area.

They are now calling for at least one dam in the semi-arid Mbeere to cater for domestic and irrigation use.