By Njonjo Kihuria
When James Nyoro became the governor of Kiambu earlier this year, he found what he refers to an administration at war with its citizens especially businesspeople, cooperators and developers.
He made a pledge to turn Kiambu around in his first 100 days, which have now lapsed.
Many disputes pitting the county and the entities were in court, but most have now been either resolved or being addressed
“There was poor coordination between the various levels of the county government, some of our staff had become uncontrollable, there was no budget for some critical sectors and many projects had stalled for years”, he said in an interview last week. Stalling of projects was occasioned by pending bills in billions.
First in his in-tray was to re-organise his administration and win the confidence of the staff to help deliver on his mandate.
And the most critical cadre of staff were the sub-county administrators, who coordinate activities of all departments at the grassroots.
The ward administrators set to work and embarked on the fight against illicit brews, a troubling problem that not only affects the youth but productivity.
They have also been working to curb the spread of Covid-19 through creation of awareness besides identifying vulnerable families for assistance.
“When I came in as governor, I found pending bills of Sh2.5 billion but by the end of April we had been able to pay more than Sh1.6 billion.
This has brought back the confidence of our contractors and other suppliers,” said Nyoro when he spoke to the People Daily on Tuesday.
Business people in the county had previously complained of harassment by enforcement officers, some who were accused of invading their premises and destroying property in the guise of enforcing county bylaws.
But Nyoro says, his government has streamlined the directorate by removing rogue officers and maintaining discipline among the remaining ones.
He noted the previous lack of accountability and loss of money in the various sectors of the county government, saying his administration has since streamlined these and sealed the loopholes.
“The funds are now being used for the intended purposes and hence the revival and completion of stalled projects.”
The Nyoro administration has also initiated a free seed distribution programme.
This initiative has resulted in the distribution of over 100 tonnes of maize and beans seeds and thousands of fruit seedlings.
The administration has also brought together coffee and dairy farmers under umbrella associations to achieve economies of scale through purchase of inputs, processing and marketing.
For instance, one of the beneficiaries, Susan Wangui, a farmer from Ndiko area in Gatundu, who received banana and avocado seedlings from the county government lauds the initiative saying it will empower her economically.
“These are quick maturing varieties that will help me earn some money in the short term as I wait for payment for my tea,” she says.
The county government has also set aside a budget for water connectivity and ensure clean and safe drinking water.
Through consultation, the county government has established a new working mechanism with the water companies, which the governor says will eventually lead to a well-informed merger.
“Health has taken a lot of our time in the last two months due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Among others, we have been combating the spread of the virus, visited all public markets in the county, closed the unhygienic ones, fumigated them and later reopened those that had followed the Covid-19 protocols,” said the governor.
He said his administration has also ensured the county is prepared to deal with coronavirus patients by setting aside isolation centres and quarantine areas.
The county has dedicated the new Kiambu County Covid Center at Tigoni Hospital to the care of coronavirus patients. It can accommodate up to 200 patients.
In conjunction with water providers, the county government has supplied water for hand washing in public places and in addition distributed sanitisers and face masks.
Apart from upgrading its medical facilities, the county in partnership with the Kiambu Covid-19 Emergency Fund, the leadership has started providing relief food to the most vulnerable in the county.
Two weeks ago the county government donated foodstuff to residents of Kanjeru Shauri Yako village in Kabete. Village chairman David Kimwaki expressed residents’ appreciation noting that most of the villagers are no longer able to work.
Ng’ang’a Kiarie from Ndumberi, however, urged those with enough food not to go for the relief food.
“Although all of us would like to receive food, let those of us who can afford to buy own, allow the county government to feed only the most vulnerable,” he said.