In a shocking tirade, Governor Dhadho Godhana has accused residents of thwarting all efforts to develop the county.
Speaking at a public forum, Mr Godhana said locals had formed a habit of opposing development projects and entrenching poverty.
The angry governor noted that while Tana River remained one of the poorest counties, locals had chosen to “take comfort in poverty by supporting unworthy protests”.
“We struggle so hard to bring progress, but all some people want is to preserve the status quo, where poverty and underdevelopment thrive,” he said.
He cited recent protests against a World Bank-funded urbanisation programme, whose launch had been delayed. He blamed the perennial disputes on political rivals.
He noted that, unlike in other counties where leaders worked in harmony to uplift their people, Tana River had become an arena for political infighting and back-stabbing.
“Someone funds a demonstration then writes to the World Bank asking them to stop funding the urbanisation programme in Tana River and you cheer him on. You are the most ungrateful people that I have ever seen!” he fumed.
The governor said his administration would not be swayed by emotions and empty threats, but would see through its plans to create an enabling environment for business. Woman Rep Rehema Hassan appealed to locals to stop attacking the governor, saying he meant well. She warned politicians against instigating demonstrations aimed at derailing development projects.
“You can’t hold land that is unproductive. Land is meant to be developed,” she said.
The legislator challenged locals to investigate the people funding the protests, claiming that most of them were rent-seekers looking for opportunities for kickbacks.
Ms Rehema warned that for every shilling protesters are paid to derail projects, their generations will pay dearly.
She urged women to stop their children from taking part.
The remarks come barely a week after hundreds of locals staged protests in Hola against the planned relocation of the county headquarters on the grounds that they were not consulted.
The residents chased away contractors from the site, injuring two, and vowed not to allow any kind of development on the land.