Eleven months to the next General Election, the Jubilee government is rushing against time to complete President Uhuru Kenyatta legacy projects in Mt Kenya region.
The projects whose completion dates have been revised backwards and a directive issued that they must be done by June next year are meant to be a befitting farewell gift by President Uhuru Kenyatta to his home region.
Although many leaders believe that the Jubilee government has invested heavily in development in the region, political mudslinging by a faction of leaders opposed to Uhuru has always struggled to create a perception that the region is underdeveloped.
For example in December 2018, controversial Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria claimed that the region has been neglected economically a move that did not auger well with senior civil servants who started crisscrossing the region to inspect the projects with the aim of sensitising locals about them.
With billions of projects being rolled out in Mt Kenya region, Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Infrastructure James Macharia said the President was monitoring the status of development projects and was very keen on launching them upon their completion.
“It is the President who sends us to inspect the projects. He also privately inspects the projects which he is looking forward to launching before his term comes to an end,” Macharia said.
Some of the flagship projects that Uhuru is keen on launching include the 84 kilometres Kenol-Sagana -Marua dual carriageway on the Great North highway at a tune of Sh30 billion. The road is being done in two lots to hasten construction with where the two companies simultaneously doing the 36 kilometres Sagana-Marua section while the other lot involves the 48-kilometre Kenol-Sagana section.
The construction of the road will boost the hotel industry and the business expected to sporadically emerge in Kenol town that is seen as a gateway to the Mt Kenya region from Nairobi.
Businessman Joe Kamau noted that land prices have skyrocketed along the section especially the Kenol-Kambiti-Makutano areas where investors have pitched camp looking for a foothold to establish businesses.
“The completion of the road will be a paradigm shift to locals around this area and the entire Mt Kenya region,” Kamau noted.
Mau Mau cluster roads totalling 540 kilometres and costing Sh28 billion is another project that the president is keenly following and hopeful to be complete by December.
The Mau Mau roads will traverse the counties of Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Nyandarua having started at Gataka in Limuru passing through Kamahindu and Kibichoi in Kiambu before negotiating its way through Kinyona in Kigumo and Ichichi in Kangema.
It then passes through market centres in Murang’a and Nyeri before ending at Njengu in Nyeri where it will join the Nyeri-Nyahururu highway. The road is being constructed in four simultaneous lots with two contractors handling the stretch in Kiambu while the other two are handling the Murang’a and Nyeri segments.
“Upon completion, the road is expected to boost the region’s economy which produces two of Kenya’s main cash crops - tea and coffee,” the CS added.
“These two road projects are a befitting send-off gift by Uhuru to his home region and will reverberate in the minds of the residents for generations,” said Linford Mutembei who chairs the Mt Kenya Youth Caucus.
The Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Sanitation is under instructions to complete the Thiba, Karemenu dams, and the Northern Water Collector Tunnel before the expiry of the Jubilee government’s term.
Head of Cooperate Communications at National Irrigation Authority, Daniel Nzonzo said the Thiba project is 66 per cent complete and will be through by December this year.
According to Nzonzo, the project will power Kirinyaga County’s economy from Sh10 billion to between Sh15 to Sh20 billion annually.
The project targets to increase the acreage of land under irrigation from 10,000 to 35,000 acres at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
The construction of the Thiba dam is being financed in partnership with the Japanese government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Sh24 billion Karemenu dam in Kiambu is scheduled to be complete by December and is aimed to produce 70,000 cubic metres of water on a daily basis for both irrigation and domestic use for residents of Thika, Juja, Ruiru, and Nairobi.
“We did not have time to keep shouting, at the right time we have decided to tell people the truth. We can even challenge, those who have been claiming that they have done it to assemble the technocrats Cabinet secretaries, Principal sectaries, and their teams) at these sites, if indeed they claim to have done it,” said Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri.
Ngunjiri said that they have been helping government deliver at the expense of losing political popularity as opposed to people who abandoned their work to play politics.
“Now we are ready to face them and their lies in the podium, we will seek to show the people what Uhuru’s government has delivered. We are happy for the government’s work and we will we will take credit and make political capital over it,” he said.
And to fight claims that the President has not worked in his second term, pro-government leaders have launched a programme to crisscross the region to market the projects.
Last week, Macharia escorted by over 10 MPs inspected the projects while Interior PS Karanja Kibicho toured Thiba dam where he fought off Tanga Tanga claims that the President had been distracted by a handshake and BBI politics.
“Claiming that the President has not delivered projects in his second term is a lie and political propaganda. We shall crisscross the region listing the projects one by one,” Muranga Women Representative Wanjiru Chege said.
“We have projects worth billions of shillings in this region, in fact, we have benefited big time from Uhuru’s government,” said Kieni MP Kanini Keg. Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said once the President starts crisscrossing the region, the political landscape will change for the better.
“Most of the prodigal sons hanged on the President’s coat lapels to secure their elective posts in 2013 and 2017 but when he sets his foot to launch the projects, their political career will be at the verge of collapsing,” said Nduati.
“It’s hypocritical for leaders to create a perception that our son has forgotten his people. When the launching season starts, the truth will be known and there shall be casualties,” added Mathioya MP Peter Kimari.