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Team to meet Treasury over Ronald Ngala Utalii College cash

Dominic Otengo (centre) from Baseline Architects Limited shows National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade an architecture’s design for the Sh8 billion Ronald Ngala Utalii College at Vipingo. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/ STANDARD

MOMBASA: MPs will meet two Cabinet secretaries over delayed disbursement of cash for construction of Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

National Assembly’s Departmental committee on Finance, Planning and Trade will meet Cabinet secretaries for Treasury and Tourism to ensure fast disbursement of money to help complete Kenya’s first multi-faceted tourism institution.

Speaking at the site Mulji Devral and Brothers company director Pravin Halai said the initial cost of the project was supposed to be Sh8.9 billion for putting up both the college and a five star hotel on a 60-acre plot.

This changed after the Government decided to only build the college on a 40-acre plot at a cost of Sh4.9 billion.

“Phase two will be put up later on a 20 acres plot overseeing the Ocean” said Halai

He said phase one was almost complete, but complained of delays in disbursement of funds even after they had raised certificates for the works they had completed.

Speaking when he led a 20-man delegation of the departmental committee at the site of the proposed institution, which is also a Vision 2030 flagship project, committee chairman Benjamin Lagat said they were impressed with the progress of work so far. “This is despite the fact that the Government has been slow in ensuring smooth flow of funds towards the project which once complete is going to be a game changer in the hospitality industry,” Mr Lagat said.

The Ainamoi MP said the college will admit more than 1,000 students when complete.

“That is why it is a game changer in the country,” he added.

He said Kenyans trained in tourism were doing very well in big cities like Dubai.

“My county is dependent to a great deal on tourism and there would not have been any other better place to put up this project than in Kilifi itself,” Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said.

MODEL COLLEGE

Mr Kingi hinted at possibilities of his county government helping to finance the project.

“Although this is a national-government undertaking my county government will hold an inter governmental meeting to see how we can also contribute to the development,” he said.

Mulji Devraj and Brothers is the main contractor overseeing the project, which was to be undertaken initially by the Kenya Utalii College but was transferred to the Tourism Fund as the harmonised Tourism Act assigns the function to the latter.

Mark Gathuri, a Tourism Fund board member, described the facility as a model college which will be beneficial to students from Africa and around the globe once completed.

He added that the state-of-the-art complex comes at a time when players in the tourism industry have raised concern over the need to have additional facilities to help offload pressure at the Nairobi based Utalii College.

“Demand for skills has remained a top requirement in the hospitality industry with quite a good number of trained personnel from Utalii College getting ready employment in and outside Kenya,” Mr Gathuri said.

Tourism Fund Chief Executive Officer Joseph Cherutoi said the institution is being built on a 60-acre piece of land in Vipingo, and will have a training facility with modern kitchens, sports complex, conferencing facilities as well as a 500-roomed hotel where students can carry out their practical studies.

He said phase one, which comprises of the main college, is 50 per cent complete and the Tourism Fund has paid the contractor Sh1.6 billion. A beach hotel which is phase two is expected to cost Sh4 billion.

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