Governor Waititu terminates rehab programme after outcry

Wednesday February 27 2019

Ferdinand Waititu

Governor Ferdinand Waititu (centre) with county and national government officials soon after signing the Anti-Alcohol Bill into law in 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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A controversial rehabilitation programme run by the county government of Kiambu has been terminated.

The programme that was running at a cost of Sh2 million per day, sparked outrage from county leaders and rehabilitation experts who doubted its effectiveness, transparency, accountability and sustainability.

'KAA SOBER'

Some 5,078 beneficiaries of the programme dubbed "Kaa sober" were on Tuesday, during a graduation ceremony held at Ndumberi Stadium, awarded certificates by Governor Ferdinand Waititu after completing short vocational courses in local polytechnics.

Further, the youth who have each been earning a Sh400 daily stipend — Sh300 as wages and Sh100 for breakfast and lunch for doing manual jobs such as collecting garbage, clearing bushes on the road side and unblocking drainage — were given a 'send off' cheque.

Each of the beneficiaries of the program, which started last year, got a Sh20,000 cheque which Mr Waititu, who announced the termination of the controversial programme, said was meant to enable them start decent income generating activities.

“The program has come to an end but I am glad that we have been able to transform the lives on many young people. We have equipped them with technical skills which will enable them earn a living and also boosted them with Sh20,000 capital,” the governor said.

The beneficiaries of the programme which has gobbled up an estimated Sh700 million in the last one year were mostly jobless youth randomly picked by the governor through their respective ward representatives.

CRITICS

However, other leaders in the county among them Senator Kimani Wamatangi, nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba, MP Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) and his Thika counterpart Patrick Wainaina, were questioning the program and demanding its termination.

The leaders, with backing from rehabilitation experts, had said that the programme was abetting alcoholism since the beneficiaries were using part of the stipend on alcohol. They had also said it was not sustainable due to the high costs involved in running it and that it would create an avenue for theft of public resources.

While Mr Wamatangi questioned whether the programme respected the Public Finance Management Act in terms of the expenditure, Ms Wa Muchomba, who is also running a public money-funded rehabilitation project, some MPs had faulted the rehab wondering if it was benefiting deserving persons.

However, Mr Waititu defended the program saying the reason why he launched it was to fight alcoholism through creation of employment for the youth as he promised during the 2017 campaigns.

He argued that just like the elected leaders draw salaries from government coffers, the young people are also entitled to some and accused the leaders and other critics of being jealous of his programme.

The county boss said most youth turn to alcohol due to frustrations caused by unemployment.