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Murang'a County plans to expand tourism industry

Saturday February 17 2018

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria addresses locals in Murang’a Town on January 16, 2018. He wants to protect cultural sites in the region. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to prominent public figures. This week, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria responds to your questions:

1. There has been a raging battle between the governor and the board and management of Murang’a Water and Sewerage Company. What is the genesis of this conflict between yourself and the service company? 

Paul Mwangi, Kangema, Murang’a

The conflict borders mainly on failure by water service providing companies to appreciate that the provision of water is a fully devolved function and that it’s the role of the county government to manage the provision of water through reasonable tariffs and efficient supply.

2. Your second and final term as governor ends after the 2022 General Election and there have been suggestions you could be a possible running mate of Deputy President William Ruto. What are your plans? 

Joseph Mwangi Maina, Kahuro, Murang’a

My legacy will determine my political future. My focus for the next five years is delivering on all my promises to the great people of Murang’a .

I am also keen on supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to deliver Jubilee’s Big Four agenda.

3. Education statistics indicate that Murang’a has a high number of secondary schools categorised as extra-county.

These schools were built not by the government but through harambee for the local children.

Their classification opens doors to children from all over the country, which is a disadvantage to local students.

What is your government doing to address this skewed classification and to ensure that slots in such schools are actually reserved for locals?  

Gikonyo Cheche, Kiharu

The county government is working with stakeholders in the education sector to improve infrastructure to expand capacity in extra-county schools.

This will ensure that the schools admit a significant number of qualified local students and adhere to national policies on taking in students from other counties.

Further, the county government bursary scheme aids pupils admitted to extra-county schools from needy backgrounds.

However, in doing all this we must appreciate that education is a tool of integration and cohesion thus the need to admit pupils from other counties.

4. Back in 2015 your government released Sh70 million for bursaries. Out of that noble idea, about 7,000 students benefited.

Since then your administration has never set aside money for bursary schemes and as a result there is an increased number of university students discontinuing their studies due to lack of fees and other related financial issues.

When are we likely to see the full implementation of Murang’a County Scholarship Bill? 

Joe Lewis Gathara, Kigumo Constituency

The correct position is that the bursary scheme has been ongoing since inception.

In fact, we have increased funding to the programme to cater for more students annually.

By the end of the last financial year, nearly 40,000 students had benefited from it.

5. Why are you so passionate about cooperatives? 

Alex Mutua, Makueni.

I am a son of a cooperative member. I have first-hand experience on how cooperative movements transform people’s lives.

During my tenure as the chief executive of the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries, I saw the dairy cooperative transform millions of lives of dairy farmers.

Through my personal initiative to organise the dairy sector in Murang’a through cooperatives, more than 100,000 farmers are earning Sh1.8 billion annually from milk sales.

Our target is Sh5 billion annually by 2022— which will be equivalent to the current county annual budget.

I see cooperatives as the best economic model of eliminating poverty.

6. We depend on coffee tea and milk farming. What are you doing to ensure farmers get better prices for their produce and eliminate brokers? 

Reagan Mwangi, Mathioya, Gitugi Ward

The county has organised farmers into cooperatives as it has done in the dairy industry and then connects them directly to reputable buyers of their produce.

In this approach, the county negotiates a minimum price with the said buyers in addition to securing a guaranteed market.

This process automatically eliminates brokers in the value chain.

7. How and when will you remove the street vendors who came back to the streets of Kenol during the campaign period? They have literary occupied the roads causing unnecessary traffic jams. 

Patrick Maina, Kenol Town

We have no intention of removing any vendor or hawker from the streets.

It should actually be criminal for anybody to evict a hawker from their place of work without providing an alternative.

In fact, the bulk of the people of my county are small traders. Therefore, we value what they do in developing our local economy.

And the same is true of the national economy where the informal sector contributes 70 per cent to the GDP.

We value small traders and that is why my government’s legal department is drafting a Hawkers Bill that I will sponsor through our MPs in the National Assembly.

8. I first congratulate you on winning the trust of the people of Murang’a to allow you to serve them a second term. Sir, how do you rate the success of counties in the country in terms of impact to mwananchi? What is the major problem facing devolution? 

Peter Kiraithe

In rating the success of devolution and as a pioneer governor of the devolved administration in Murang’a, I would give them a 6/10 grade despite the myriad challenges of transition, adaptation and lack of public awareness.

The biggest challenge is the devolution of functions without the commensurate resources.

9. Sir, what plans do you have to develop the numerous tourist sites in the county as a way of empowering locals economically? Charles Mwangi Kimari, Gitugi Ward, Mathioya Sub-County

The county wishes to expand its tourism from the traditional safari package to niche markets and products such as sports tourism, agro-tourism, conservation tourism and cultural tourism.

My administration will also undertake infrastructural development projects in various tourist sites.

10. You are one of the governors who was least expected to bounce back. How did you manage to beat political heavy weights?

Godfrey Kamau, Tetu Sub-County.

Politics is the art of the possible. Many leaders, strategists and operatives in the political arena are still stuck in old-fashioned strategies.

I simply applied modern and scientific strategies to recapture the seat.

You don’t need experience or patronage to succeed in politics. What you need most is knowledge and its application.

The wheels of history have turned. The earlier people understand this the better.

11. How have you incorporated youth in your government? 

Jeff Chepkwony, Sigor, Chepalungu

I have ensured that 37 per cent of the county workforce is composed of officers within the youth cohort.

I have also rolled out robust programmes such as “Ufundi Kwa Vijana” in rendering skills necessary for gainful ventures.

12. Last month there were wrangles between your administration and Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company, which actually revolves around increased tariffs. Eventually you promised residents of Murang’a that they will not pay more than Sh200. How is this promise going to be fulfilled? 

Eric Mugo, Murang’a

The promise is being fulfilled as MUWASCO has already written to Water services Regulatory Board requesting the approval of reduction of water tariffs minimum charge to Sh200 with effect from March 1, 2018.

13. Small-scale horticulture farming has become a major occupation among non-skilled, jobless and pensioners in Murang’a. When will your government include them in fertiliser, herbicides, seeds and pesticide subsidised programmes like you do with maize, dairy and coffee farmers?

Mwangi Lincoln, Kahumbu, Murang’a

The county has initiated subsidised programmes for horticultural farming mainly in avocado.

However, the programme is being expanded to cover other horticultural crops.

The programme also entails connecting farmers to stable and rewarding markets.

It is worth noting that this intervention has enabled avocado farmers to earn as high as Sh35 for a single fruit in addition to the annual bonus.

14. When will your government rollout a water supply action plan to benefit horticultural farmers since most of them rely on seasonal streams and temporary boreholes?

Mwangi Lincoln, Kahumbu, Murang’a

My government’s plan for water action plan is having 350,000 homes connected to piped water by 2020 through a wide range of programmes such as pipes laying, boreholes drilling and boosting intake capacity for water service providers.

15. As you start your final term as governor, what legacy would you like to leave?

Jeff Chepkwony, Sigor, Chepalungu

My legacy is based on socio-economic transformation for all the households in Murang’a through a wide range of programmes that I have steered and continue to strengthen since I assumed office in sectors such as agriculture, cooperative movement, health, youth empowerment, education and training among others.

16. Having been born and raised in Murang’a, I would like to know how you have incorporated people from outside the county into your administration. Could you quantify this in terms of percentage of how many people from minority communities have been employed? 

Ali Buke, Wempa, Maragwa

I am a firm believer in inclusivity in governance.

For example, the County Executive Committee member for Lands is a Kisii, the CEC for Health is a Kamba, the Chief Officer for livestock is a Luhya, the Director for Economic Planning is a Kamba, while a Luo is a senior Human Resource Manager.

In short, our government reflects the true face of Kenya.

This is not just for compliance with the Constitution but because of my firm belief that all Kenyans are equal. 

17. While we appreciate and commend you for giving us manure, we request that the distribution be done in the villages. This will eliminate the cost of ferrying it to our farms from the coffee factory. Please change the directive as farmers are broke due to the ongoing drought.

Justus Rukungu Kabuu, Gaturi, Murang’a County

I promise to look into that.

18. What is the county government doing to preserve and manage the Mukurwe-wa-Nyagathanga cultural site that has been mismanaged and left to deteriorate for several decades? 

Celia Nyamweru, Nairobi

The county government is partnering with Kenyatta University and Agikuyu Elder Groups in developing the site to protect its cultural relevance and attract tourists.

Alongside this, I am also initiating the development of the Agikuyu Information and Cultural Centre.