Reduced crime boosts Maragua town's recovery

One of the old buildings in Maragua town that was converted to a leading private hospital three years ago [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Long haunted by insecurity and general malaise, Maragua town, one of Kenya’s most violent towns, is rejuvenating after a string of good fortunes in the last two years.

The designated industrial town in Murang’a town had experienced a lull for 15 years, following insecurity concerns that included cases of robbery with violence, murder, illicit brewing, abductions among other criminal activities.

The former agricultural town’s activities also dimmed following sabotage of the coffee sector, as criminals’ established networks in the nearby Ichagaki, Nginda and Sammer areas.

Owing to improved security, the once haven for criminals has changed fortunes with investors establishing new business empires. Presently, the law enforcers have concentrated on eradicating illicit brew and mapping out criminal dens frequented by some of the notorious ex-convicts.

The journey to secure the town started in 2013 after the then Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo ordered the establishment of the Flying Squad and crime prevention units at the Maragua Police Station - a directive that failed to ‘cleanse’ the area.

The insecurity delayed the establishment of flagship development projects including the construction of the official governor’s residence.

Early this year, the Regional Coordinator Wilfred Nyangw’anga convened a meeting at Gakoigo grounds, where the residents recounted how armed gangs have been terrorising them, including sending threats to area administrators.

In the meeting, the locals and traders raised concerns over the policemen who had overstayed at the Maragua Police Station, with merchants behind illicit brewing bribing them to remain in business.

One of the upcoming residential buildings in Maragua town near Maragua Police Station. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Businesspersons’ spokesman Kenneth Maguta, however, noted that security had improved leading to the establishment of big hotels including the Three Rivers and Mimus Resorts in the Maragua area.

In a short span, there are supermarkets, modern hotels with hospitable accommodation - ending days when visitors were diverted to the nearby Murang’a town for such services.

“All the concerns that have been a bottleneck to development in Maragua have been sorted and we have special thanks to the government for posting a dedicated security team,” said Maguta.

The rise of Maragua town started a year ago after the Kenya Rural Roads Authority engineers led by Joseph Wanjohi designed the new road networks.

Maulid Hassan attributed the growth of the agricultural town to improved security patrols.

Hassan said Maragua is slowly rivalling Murang’a town in real estate development as it enjoys ample space for expansion due to its flat topography. “Murang’a is bursting at the seams presently unless it spreads to Gaturi and Kabuta areas where the topography is still hilly,” said Hassan.

Murang’a South Police Commander Alexander Shikondi said positive community involvement in security matters has supported the growth of Maragua town. He said the police will work closely with the locals to rid the town of the remaining criminals.

“In a few weeks, we have combed the villages and market centres in the sub-county, enlightening the community on the need to work with the law enforcers and also being part of the Nyumba Kumi group,” said Shikondi.

This year, the government rolled out a mission to regain control of the town through reshuffling of  officers who had overstayed in the posting of experienced crime buster Alexander Shikondi to be in charge of Murang’a South Police Division.

Murang’a Municipality has also proposed to extend its boundaries to an area that was covered by the defunct Town Council of Maragua.

A property management expert Macharia Githongo said Maragua is recovering following infrastructure provided by the government.

“There is a lot of interest with Maragua and the surrounding areas with rental houses being in high demand as there are existing and upcoming industries,” said Macharia of Markie Properties.

 

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