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Gachagua's role expanded as Ruto reorganises government

 President William Ruto is received by DP Rigathi Gachagua on arrival at Wanjohi Primary School, Kipipiri, for a church service on December 11, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President William Ruto relieved Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen of some duties when he transferred the State Departments of Housing, Urban Development and Public Works to the Lands Ministry.

The Lands Ministry, headed by Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru, will now lead Kenya Kwanza's plan to construct at least 250, 000 houses each year for the next five years, a project meant to ensure that six million Kenyans living in informal settlements get decent and affordable houses.

Ruto in Executive Order No. 1 of 2023, reverted the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) to Murkomen's docket from the Interior Ministry, which is headed by Prof Kindiki Kithure.

NTSA was transferred to the Interior Ministry during former President Uhuru Kenyatta's second term.

The President further assigned Murkomen more roles. "Functions: National Roads Development Policy; Development, standardization and maintenance of roads; materials testing and advice on usage; protection of road reserves; maintenance of security roads; administer mechanical and transport Fund; registration of engineers; mechanical and transport services; and enforcement of axle load control."

The realignment of the Transportation docket comes days after the CS announced increased road accidents, in which 4,432 people died between January and November last year, which is the highest since independence. About 1,595 pedestrians also lost their lives.

Murkomen's ministry is also facing another huge task: Reviving Kenya Airways into a profitable entity and managing the dispute between the national carrier and its employees.

Ruto also shifted some services from Public Health to Medical Services in the executive order.

The Head of State assigned Investment and Trade Ministry CS Moses Kuria three state departments instead of the previous two. They include the State Department for Investment Promotion, the State Department for Trade, and the State Department for Industry.

Ruto split the Ministry of Environment into the State Department for Environment and Climate Change and the State Department for Forestry and added more roles to the Tourism Ministry to manage the State Department for Culture and Heritage and the State Department for Tourism and Wildlife.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua will now steer the coffee sector reforms amid conflict between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Capital Markets Authority over who exactly is the parent body of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

"I will not accept government resources to be used to pay lawyers for one government agency to take another government agency to court. It will not happen. We have to be honest and honourable people because there are sufficient structures within government for us to sort out unnecessary disputes that occur in government institutions," Ruto said on Saturday during the Cabinet retreat at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki.

President Ruto put Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi in charge of the Government Delivery Services, an agency that replaces the Presidential Delivery Unit which was under former chief of staff Nzioka Waita.

He also assigned Gachagua and Mudavadi two Principal Secretaries each, instead of the Principal Administrative Secretaries.

The President placed the Hustler Fund under the State Department for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. The department will oversee the promotion, development, and enhancement of the competitiveness of MSMEs, among other roles.

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