High hopes as Uhuru ends Central visit with basket of promises
By Job Weru
| February 15th 2016
President Uhuru Kenyatta wrapped up his tour of Central Kenya with a promise to address the region’s grievances. He pledged to look into the settlement of squatters, revive the coffee sector and step up the war on illicit brews.
The burning issue of squatters, especially those who were concentrated in colonial villages during the State of Emergency in 1952, was sealed with a pledge that he would come back after two months to give out title deeds.
Speaking yesterday afternoon at Kiamariga trading centre on his way back to the Sagana State Lodge, the President said the squatters would be resettled, adding that the Government was processing 2,000 title deeds, which will be issued in two months.
Some 541 title deeds for some of the colonial villages are ready for collection beginning today while survey work has been completed in 41 villages targeted in the first phase.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi while briefing journalists on Saturday on the outcome of a closed-door meeting at Sagana State Lodge with Nyeri business community and leaders, said the Government would audit fraudulent beneficiaries of Solio Settlement Scheme.
Sources said the President ordered the formation of a task force to investigate and give recommendations on the ailing coffee sector.
The task force is expected to table recommendations in two months, the source, who appealed for anonymity, said.
The source said the President appeared infuriated by the rampant wrangles, cases of theft and low prices fetched by the produce and that the committee is expected to come up with recommendations on how to make the cash crop profitable again.
The President, who has been in the region since Wednesday, discussed with local leaders proposed road map to drive the region’s economy.
He hosted some 2,500 leaders from the five counties of Central Kenya and others from Laikipia and Nakuru to discuss development matters.
President Kenyatta also held a meeting with a group of 500 Nyeri leaders with a promise to come back to the region to visit more counties. He announced that the Government will put in place measures to boost the economy.
During the meeting, it emerged that multi-billion-shilling mega dams would be constructed in Kieni.
Area MP Kanini Kega said the President committed himself to visit the region next month to launch the projects. Kieni appeared a major beneficiary of the President’s visit, with the Karemeno and Narumoru dams projects receiving wide support.
“We are also happy that the President also gave his blessings for the ongoing construction of the Narumoru-Munyu-Karicheni road and the Brookside-Mweiga section, while more areas in the interior part of Kieni East will be covered by the project.
“Sh600 million has also been set aside for the 74-kilometre Mweiga-Endarasha-Watuka-Nairutia road and a contractor has already been identified. He will be on site by March,” said Kega.
Health CS James Macharia said Narumoru Health Centre would also be upgraded to a Level Four Hospital, making it the first fully fledged health facility in the area, which forms 52 per cent of Nyeri County.
Other hospitals to benefit from the multi-million-shilling health programme are Nyeri County Referral, Othaya, Mukurweini and Karatina hospitals.
The President also announced that the war against illegal alcohol would be renewed with an assurance that no efforts would be spared to bring the menace to an end.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Head of State hosted the 5th National and County Governments Co-ordination Summit.
On Saturday, he was greeted by a crowd of about 50,000 residents and supporters when he visited Nanyuki town in Laikipia County to attend a thanksgiving ceremony hosted by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.
And yesterday, the President’s five-day itinerary ended with a visit to Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School in Mathira West sub-county for a Sunday mass, where he said the Government will increase funding for all national schools.
He noted that in the next five years, the Government will offer free primary and secondary education so as to ensure equity in education for all Kenyan children.
“We want to ensure that all children acquire education and this is meant to increase competitiveness,” said the Head of State.
On the issue of national secondary schools, he said the institutions were playing a key role of imparting knowledge to Kenyan students and there is need to ensure they are well equipped to accommodate thousands of learners.
The President also advised youths and leaders to shun divisive politics. He also noted women have a crucial role in the society, saying they are the biggest contributors in shaping the destiny of the country.
He also told off leaders who were opposed to elevation of some schools to national status, saying they were a hindrance to development.
During the church service, which coincided with Valentine’s Day, the students pulled a surprise on the President when they requested him to be ‘their Valentine’. “You have requested me to be your Valentine and as an acknowledgement, I will donate to you Sh1 million so that you can celebrate together,” he said.
President Kenyatta was accompanied by Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe and MPs Priscillah Nyokabi (Nyeri), Peter Weru (Mathira), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Ndung’u Gethenji (Tetu), Mary Wambui (Othaya) and Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East).
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