The war of words between Kirinyaga County government officials and Interior Principal Secretary (PS) Kibicho Karanja continued unabated on Sunday after Governor Anne Waiguru’s deputy told off the powerful PS over Sh15 billion project.
According to Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri, the county is not opposed to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) project and that Dr. Kibicho only wants to politicize the matter.
He said that Governor Waiguru is negotiating with Kemri officials to ensure all thorny issues are addressed amicably.
Speaking to the press after attending a church service at KAG Kanjai in Ndia Constituency, Mr. Ndambiri said that they are negotiating with Leonard Kuria who moved to court to stop the construction of the Sh15 billion project.
The deputy governor warned that PS Kibicho’s interference may derail the project.
The civil suit filed by Leonard Kuria, who named Kemri as the first respondent and the Kirinyaga County Government as the second respondent, claimed that local residents were not consulted during the planning of the project.
In September 2019, Kuria successfully petitioned the court to halt the implementation of the Kemri project.
The orders were issued by the Environment and Land Court Judge Enock Cherono, who ruled that construction could only resume after the matter was heard and determined.
But Interior PS Kibicho claimed that Waiguru is out to sabotage the Kemri project, which, according to him, stands to benefit Kirinyaga people.
“The governor’s decision to sabotage the project is sheer ‘stupidity’ that should not be allowed to continue,” Dr. Kibicho said on Friday, sparking a war of words.
The PS said Kirinyaga County constituents stand to lose should the project be moved to another county.
The Interior PS made the comments in the presence of Ndambiri on Friday when he inspected projects in Mwea Constituency.
Mr. Ndambiri, four Kirinyaga County ministers and the county secretary had earlier been locked out of a meeting chaired by Kibicho as the PS met other national government officials in a social hall in Mwea.
When the deputy governor attempted to gain access to the venue of the meeting, he was told to wait outside the hall as the two-hour meeting went on.
After the meeting ended, Kibicho is said to have refused to brief Ndambiri and his team on what they had deliberated on.
A disappointed Ndambiri said that Kibicho and his team were operating “arrogantly” in Kirinyaga without involving the county leadership.
But on Saturday, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru fired back at Karanja Kibicho and told him off, saying that he should stop thinking he’s superior to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Waiguru claimed Kibicho harbours motives in his spirited push to have Kemri pitch camp in Mwea without observing an MoU with the county government.
“On Kemri, President Uhuru Kenyatta required an MoU to be signed so that the interests of Kirinyaga people, who I was elected to represent, are taken into account.
“Is PS Kibicho now superior to the President? What is his personal interest in the matter?” posed the governor on her official Facebook page.
“If PS Karanja Kibicho wants to engage in village politics and insults, he can resign and join others in early campaigns. In the meantime, he can concentrate on the difficult task of ensuring internal security, including in the turbulent parts of the country,” said Waiguru.
The county chief says she won’t compromise on her quest to have 30 percent of the manual and non-technical jobs allocated to Kirinyaga residents.
“On our part as the county, we have signed the Kemri MoU and forwarded it to them for their execution. We remain committed to looking out for the interest of the Kirinyaga people. I am sure asking 30 percent of manual and non-technical jobs for Kirinyaga residents is not too much to ask. It has been done elsewhere, why not
“The national and county governments should work harmoniously with each other, and not engage in power struggles that end up hurting the mwananchi,” said Ndambiri.