Call me a pessimist, but isn’t snooping better than being caught unawares like a fool? There is every reason to believe that President William Ruto’s housing project will end up like former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Five agenda. Reason?
This country is a hothouse of wastage of resources because we lack continuity of projects across regimes. If he dropped the significant projects from his predecessor, what assurance does he have that his successor will nurture his housing project?
Kenya is dotted with white elephants, both superstructural and infrastructural. By superstructural, I mean reports and recommendations of task forces since independence which continue to gather dust on some shelves without implementation, regardless of billions of shillings having been used to fund their compilation. But that’s a story for another day.
Every successive government comes with their projects and abandons the former government’s project. No one cares that the abandoned multi-billion shilling projects wolfed taxpayers’ money that needs to be accounted for.
Go to every one of the 47 counties and you will find governors launching expensive projects and abandoning whatever projects the previous county governments had started. In fact, during the 2022 campaigns, politicians used such projects for propaganda purposes to oust their predecessors.
For example, in Nakuru County—the former governor Lee Kinyanjui (I am not saying he was the best) started transforming the county headquarters for city status following the December 2021 city charter.
He decongested the town centre, kicking out matatus and hawkers. But of course this transformation did not go down well with the hawkers and matatu owners, though it was necessary for the making of the city.
Governor Susan Kihika, during her campaign, used the decongestion feud to campaign against her predecessor - and she succeeded. Immediately after she was sworn in, everyone returned to the town centre with their wares, and the once beautiful pavements are now parked with vehicles. We are back to the former disorder, courtesy of politics. Isn’t it better for our leaders to appreciate whatever good projects their predecessors initiated or for humanity's sake, respect taxpayers’ money?
This is not unique to Nakuru County. Many counties have white elephants from the previous regimes, and others are dismantling projects which gobbled up billions of shillings. No governor wants to continue any good works of the previous regimes. Who will save this country from this waste of resources? Immediately we swore in governors, county government offices were cleared of furniture, unnecessarily rebranded and renovated using taxpayers’ money.
You are wrong if you think only furniture and offices were changed.Newly elected leaders come with friends, relatives, neighbours, and confidants and give them jobs. The new appointees are allotted huge budgets for training and capacity building. Why are we so wasteful yet crying that we have limited resources?
Why do counties spend billions training human resources, which are changed every time a new regime comes into power? I will not mention what happened to State House when President Ruto was sworn in. While some renovations are justified, there is need to delimit post-election administration overhauls that cost billions.
The Kenya Kwanza administration has also come with its share of unnecessarily costly transformations at a time that life is unbearable. May be the projects that successive regime abandon are redundant or unviable. How can we prevent such beforehand?
In conclusion, we have no assurance that the exorbitant President Ruto’s housing project will go beyond his regime. He says it will take seven years to complete. He has now less than five years to the end of his first term.
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How sure are we that this project, which many citizens consider punitive, will not be used to campaign against Dr Ruto and be abandoned when he leaves power? How can we preserve continuity of projects and avert wastage taxpayers’ money.
Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, School of Music and Media at Kabarak University