Leaders query millions spent in Kiambu alcohol war

Thursday June 28 2018

Ferdinand Waititu

Governor Ferdinand Waititu (centre) with county and national government officials soon after signing the Anti-Alcohol Bill into law on 7, 2018. Leaders in the county have dismissed Mr Waititu's initiative to fight alcoholism, which might gobble up to Sh520 million in a year, as a waste of public resources, saying it will do more harm than good. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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Kiambu leaders have raised questions over the use of millions of shillings in taxpayers' money to rehabilitate drunkards in the county. The money is being used to pay alcoholics in the hope that they will quit drinking.

The initiative is the brainchild of Governor Ferdinard Waititu, who hopes to solve the chronic drinking problem by engaging drunkards in manual labour and paying them a daily wage. But now local leaders and experts are casting doubts on the transparency, effectiveness and sustainability of the project that is consuming about Sh2 million daily. They have dismissed the initiative, which might gobble up to Sh520 million in a year, as a waste of public resources, saying it will do more harm than good.

WORSEN PROBLEM

“This programme could worsen alcoholism in the county because it is poorly contrived. Today, if you give me Sh300, I will go and take alcohol in the evening and come to work tomorrow for more. You are actually enhancing my drinking behaviour, not curing it,” said Mr Victor Okiamo, the CEO of National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) through Ms Judy Twala, the authority’s regulatory services manager.

Nacada, which sets standards for rehabilitation, said the county’s approach was against their guidelines, warning that it could instead worsen the alcoholism problem.

Those enrolled in the programme receive Sh400 daily – Sh300 as wages and Sh100 for breakfast and lunch. They are hired to collect garbage, unlock drainages and clear bushes along the roads. Critics point out that the county government has employees for this work who draw salaries.

THEFT AVENUES

According to the governor, the programme, which has 5,000 beneficiaries, arose out of a meeting convened to discuss feuds between Kiambu leaders.

But the initiative, which started in February, has caused a rift between the governor and county leaders led by Senator Kimani Wamatangi, Gathoni Wamuchomba (Woman Rep), MPs Moses Kuria of Gatundu South and Thika’s Patrick Wainaina.

Mr Wamatangi has asked whether the programme respects the Public Finance Management Act in terms of the expenditure, saying the county’s approach could create avenues for theft.