End of road for military-led agencies as Uhuru Kenyatta exits

When President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off 83 vehicles that were refurbished by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) at a garage in Industrial Area.

During President Uhuru Kenyatta's tenure at State House, he has shown his affinity for the military to play an expanded role in the management and implementation of various government projects.

And now even as the president leaves office at the end of his constitutional two terms, all indications are those military officers he tapped on to are also headed back to the Barracks, starting with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) team led by Director General Mohammed Badi.

Maj Gen Badi has started handing over to Governor Johnson Sakaja county services that NMS had been overseeing after former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko signed over the deed of transfer to the national government two years ago.

NMS had taken over Health, Transport, Public Works, Planning and Development Services from the county government in March 2020, with former governor Ann Kananu extending the NMS contract by six months from February 25, this year.

"I would like to confirm that NMS has accomplished all the duties given to it and is ready to hand over the departments it was in charge of to the new Nairobi governor and we will be available for advise if needed," said Maj Gen Badi.

Some of the military officers seconded to NMS to work with Maj Gen Badi include; Brig Fredrick Leuria, Lt Col JK Biomdo, Major JV Mbithi, Major AN Nyakundi, Major JK Njoroge and Major AL Musoma.

Gen Badi had also appointed Maj-Gen (rtd) Andrew Ikenye as Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company chairperson for three years.

The military had also seconded Col Dr F N Kuria and Lt S K Mutua to the Ministry of Health when the country was grappling with the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Uhuru had on several occasions accompanied Lt Gen Badi on an inspection tour of various city projects, an indicator that the President was keen on efforts to improve city services after removal of Governor Mike Sonko.

The outgoing President is on record saying that if all government employees were as diligent as the Kenya Defence Forces officers were, Kenya would be a great country since they have shown that they could do a good job with no wastage of national resources.

Uhuru said the country saved billions of shillings by having the Navy repair the cargo vessel mv Uhuru and refurbish Port Victoria, which cost the military only Sh250 million, with private contractors having quoted around Sh1.8 billion.

"My goal has never been to militarise the country but to utilise the services of qualified and reliable Kenyans to deliver on my development agenda bearing in mind that our military officers are citizens with an equal stake in the well-being of our nation," said the president.

The military worked with the National Youth Service and Kenya Railways to rebuild the Thika-Nanyuki metre gauge railway line, saving the government money it could have used to hire private contractors.

The president had also transferred the management of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Defence in September 2020 with the sole aim of reviving the operation that was on the verge of collapse.

The military injected Sh1.4 billion to KMC following Parliament's approval of expenditure in a supplementary budget in March this year, after the Treasury increased its budget from Sh470 million to Sh1.87 billion.

"The transfer of KMC's management to the Kenya Defence Forces was meant to enhance its operations and ensure survival of the cash-strapped meat processor that was on the verge of collapse, with the military tasked to revive it," said Kenyatta.

When the military took over, the State-owned facility was operating below capacity and was struggling with an unreliable supply of raw materials and an ageing plant.

Debts stood at Sh1.1 billion, which included livestock farmers' dues of Sh254.4 million, outstanding payroll deductions of Sh144 million and Sh300 million owed to the government.

The Athi River Town-based plant was slaughtering around 200 cattle per week despite having the capacity to process the same in a day.

The facility has had a difficult past, and had been re-opened on June 26, 2006, after 15 years of closure over poor management.

Commenting on the President's affinity to the military in carrying out civilian projects, political analyst Dismus Mokua suggested that Kenyatta did not trust some of his public service officials to deliver on key missions and assignments.

Mokua said the next president should ensure that the public sector is aligned to national and public interests, with national and county governments agencies required to meet citizens' and other stakeholders' expectations.

The Standard
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