|Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County [Photo:File/Standard]|
By FRANCIS NGIGE
It seems President Uhuru Kenyatta has found a new work station, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Uhuru has chosen to enjoy the tranquility of Nyeri County’s Sagana State Lodge, tucked below Mt Kenya, a world famous tourism destination.
The hitherto largely unused lodge, was recently refurbished, and overlooks the Sagana River on the lower foothills of Mt Kenya.
Since he was sworn-in about two months ago, Uhuru has toured the facility that was under-utilised three times. If his regular visits are anything to go by, then Nyeri residents will be hosting the President often.
Former President Kibaki rarely used the facility although he hails from the county. He usually flew back to Nairobi even after attending official functions in the area.
But for Uhuru, the Sagana lodge is a haven where he performs his official functions. His latest assignment involved hosting his Somalia counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a two-day retreat on stabilising the troubled Horn of African country.
Uhuru arrived at the lodge on Tuesday at 4pm and an hour later, he received Mohamud.
The two issued a joint communiqué on Wednesday on the progress of the stabilisation process.
Uhuru left the lodge yesterday for a Cabinet meeting in Nairobi.
Just a fortnight ago, Uhuru spent four days at the facility meeting local leaders before addressing public rallies in Nyeri, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Murang’a.
The President also witnessed the swearing-in of Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed at the same lodge. Yesterday, a State House official said the cool serene environment at the lodge had made the facility the President’s favourite.
“I can tell you that you (Nyeri journalists) will be busy during Uhuru’s tenure. The President seems to be in love with this place. He will undertake official duties from here,” said the official, who declined to be named.
Presidential Press Service (PPS) director Isaiah Kabira said the President could use any of State houses and lodges across the country.
Kabira, however, admitted the President appears to be happy working from Sagana. “He will be working often in Sagana. He will hold retreats and interact with visiting world leaders on a more personal basis while still keeping engaged on the agenda of the country,” said Kabira.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega welcomed the new development, saying by choosing to work from Sagana State Lodge, the President had shown his love for Nyeri people.
“We are greatly honoured to be hosting the President. If he continues carrying out his duties at the lodge, Nyeri town business will grow due to the attention it will get,” said the MP.
The State lodge is located on the edge of Mt Kenya forest, where the President can catch a glimpse of wild animals strolling in the neighbourhood. Fast-moving Sagana River cuts across the lodge, whose buildings are scattered in the well-cultivated lawns lined up with hundreds of indigenous trees.
The nearest neighbour of the lodge, which is in Mathira constituency, is a kilometre away. The lodge is highly guarded by hawk-eyed GSU personnel.
Although the Narc Government embarked on renovating the lodge in 2003, the facility had remained largely unused.
The lodge, renovated at a cost of Sh67 million, is an architectural masterpiece. Its front is made of special type of stones. Swaying gently to the breeze are hundreds of trees lining up in the expansive compound with well-manicured lawns, spruced with flowers.
The lodge that was formerly known as Royal Lodge during colonial days was given to Queen Elizabeth (then Princess Elizabeth) and The Duke of Edinburgh as a wedding present.
The Queen visited Sagana Lodge in 1952, and it is where she learnt of her father, King George VI’s death.