Fate of Meru development projects remains unknown

Monday December 18 2017

MERU COUNTY PROJECTS

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi shares a concern during the Governors' Induction Conference at Diani Reef Beach Hotel in Kwale County on December 15, 2017. The progress of several projects in Meru has stalled. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAVID MUCHUI
More by this Author
By CHARLES WANYORO
More by this Author
By IRENE MUGO
More by this Author

Multibillion shilling projects proposed by the Meru County government after two investment conferences remain in limbo.

This has been attributed to change in policy, lack of funding, and lack of support from communities and the national government.

During the first investment conference held on June 2013 and dubbed “Meru Rising”, former Governor Peter Munya outlined more than 10 development projects that were to be implemented through public-private partnerships.

ROADS
The Meru County Investment and Development Corporation (MCIDC) lined up projects in tourism and hospitality, sports, agro-processing, energy, and transport.

For instance, the county government with support from investors was to construct 300km of paved roads using low-cost probase technology at a cost of Sh7.4 billion.

However, to date, only a 10km pilot road has been constructed.

This project, the Nation has learnt, stalled after the national government said the county could not undertake it.

GOLF COURSE
Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who was then the senator, while criticising the project, expressed concern that there was a high risk of default and financial penalties on the county government.

Plans by Mr Munya’s administration and Meru Gold Club Association to begin the construction of a Sh200 million golf course in the town were equally opposed by the Agriculture Society of Kenya and members of the community.

The development of potato and banana processing plants are also yet to kick off.

PROCESSING PLANTS

This is despite the former governor, in 2015, announcing that Pagomo Foods, an international potato processing company with a factory in Zimbabwe, planned to establish a potato cold storage and processing factory in Timau.

There is also no sight of a macadamia processing and packaging factory despite Mr Munya telling the assembly in 2015 that it would be up and running during the first quarter of 2016.

However, according to the revised Annual Development Plan by the Kiraitu administration, MCIDC has been allocated Sh100 million for a joint venture in setting up banana and potato processing plants.

CONSERVANCY
Also in limbo is the establishment of the 265-kilometre square Nyambene Wildlife Conservancy whose allocation of Sh30 million was struck out in the revised budget.

The former administration had entered into a pact with Kenya Wildlife Service leading to the training of 30 rangers in 2014.

It had been envisaged that the conservancy would end conflicts along the Meru-Isiolo border and promote tourism.

INVESTORS

Meanwhile, Embu Governor Martin Wambora has said the county will host an investors conference in February next year.

The governor said the county lost a golden chance to tap into billions of shillings pledged by investors, who kept off due to heightened political temperatures as a result of two unsuccessful attempts to impeach him.

“With all the politics that followed thereafter, we couldn’t have gone very far,” he said.

The governor, for instance, explained that a group of investors had agreed to help the county extend its airstrip at Don Bosco and transform it to international standards. This was, however, yet to happen.

ELECTRICITY
Mr Wambora said under the expansion plan, the completed airport would then have terminal buildings, warehouses, hangars, aprons as well as a free trade zone.

Separately, a Sh6 billion solar project in Nyeri is yet to kick off months after being launched by former Governor Nderitu Gachagua.

The 134-acre piece of public land in Kiamariga, Mathira constituency, remains a plain field.

A section of residents in a petition, however, opposed the project accusing the county government of grabbing community land.

They claimed that public participation on the project was bogus and that some residents had been paid out.

The project would have a capacity to generate up to 40 megawatts of electricity, which would then be sold to the national grid.