Slow implementation of projects launched by Deputy President William Ruto in his tours of Mt Kenya has angered residents.
Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement in Mombasa criticising Mt Kenya leaders for accusing him of neglecting the region, focus has shifted to the projects launched by his deputy over the last one year.
On New Year’s Eve, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria accused the President of sidelining Central Kenya despite the region supporting him in elections.
Mr Kuria has since backtracked, claiming his comments were misinterpreted.
However, his Bahati counterpart Kimani Ngunjiri is unapologetic, saying the President has failed.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that most of the projects launched by Dr Ruto in the region have started but with hardly any activities on the ground.
In Nyeri, most of the road projects are ongoing albeit at a very slow pace.
Residents are worried that the projects may stall if their leaders fail to pile pressure on the national government.
In Kieni alone, Dr Ruto launched three road projects worth Sh4.4 billion: the first two in February and the third one in October.
Residents said contractors were dragging their feet despite a promise that the roads would be completed in one year.
“The contractors are not consistent when undertaking some of these projects. Sometimes they can go away for two months and we are left wondering whether these roads will ever be completed,” Mr Samuel Muriuki said.
For instance, the contractor working on the 13km Kanyagia-Endarasha road is on site but very little activity is going on.
Casual labourers are digging up trenches on the side of the road while the machinery is lying idle at Endarasha shopping centre.
However, area MP Kanini Kega said the contractor had been given nine months to complete the job, refuting claims that it was behind schedule.
“Work is on course in all the road projects and none of them has stalled. I cannot complain about the pace of implementation,” he said.
Mr Kega lashed out at those claiming Dr Ruto launched ‘ghost’ projects, saying his constituents are contented with the work the Jubilee administration is doing.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua defended the Jubilee government's development record.
He cited an advertisement by a road agency for the tarmacking of two roads in his area that will cost Sh3 billion.
The Kenya Rural Roads Authority on Thursday announced three tenders for the tarmacking of roads in Nyeri and Migori counties.
The 43km Marua-Kiamariga road that leads to the State Lodge is among the highways that will be tarmacked in the current financial year.
Mr Gachagua said this was evidence that his constituency had not been sidelined in development.
“I cannot speak about development in the Mt Kenya region because I was not elected there and cannot pretend to know what takes place in the region. I only know about Mathira where I am elected, and it’s the only place that concerns me,” he said.
On January 12 last year, while attending a funeral in Kiambu, Dr Ruto announced that the Jubilee administration would in the 2018/2019 financial year allocate Sh800 million to rehabilitate the Marige-Gathiru-ini road, which he had used to get to the burial venue.
However, five months to the end of the financial year, nothing has happened on the 23km road and the Head of State is yet to launch 50km of link roads in the region as promised by Dr Ruto.
The government, he said, was also working on another Sh17 billion water project dubbed Ruiru Two in Githunguri and two other dams in Kinale, in Lari, and Gatundu South, but no works have started on the ground yet.
Other projects which have been launched in the county are the 47km Uplands-Githunguri-Ruiru road, which is expected to cost Sh4.6 billion, and the 26km Githunguri–Kagwe–Kimende road (Moi Road), whose estimated cost is Sh2.4 billion.
The two projects were commissioned by Dr Ruto in June and September last year respectively.
On the same day Dr Ruto commissioned Moi Road, he also launched Wangige-Nyathuna-Ngecha road that cuts through Kabete and Limuru constituencies.
Works at Uplands-Githunguri-Ruiru road started but have since inexplicably stopped, while at Moi Road and Wangige-Nyathuna-Ngecha road the project is yet to start.
Earthmovers, which were used during the launch, left the site immediately.
“It seems like it was a public relations exercise since close to four months down the line, not even an inch has been excavated and the machines left almost immediately,” Mr James Kioge, a resident of Kagwe who witnessed the launch of Moi Road project, said.
In Meru, Dr Ruto launched the construction of Thangatha dam in Tigania East in August last year with a promise that it will be complete in six months.
A spot check showed that the contractor was on site with excavation works ongoing.
Kirinyaga County residents have also protested against the slow implementation of road projects which were launched by the DP.
Residents said the Njegas-Kianjege and the Ngaru-Gakoigo roads, whose construction Dr Ruto launched, are still in bad shape.
"These are very crucial roads and the contractors who won tenders should stop dragging their feet," Mr Njau Ndegwa said.
Residents urged the DP to act tough on lazy contractors. "For us to benefit, Dr Ruto should not spare the contractors who are not doing their jobs faster," Ms Mary Wangui, another resident, said.
They also observed that the construction of the controversial Sh1.2 billion Kutus-Kiamutugu-Githure road - which Dr Ruto toured last year - had stalled.
A contractor was awarded the tender two years ago but the project halted after only 5km was tarmacked.
Gichugu residents, where the project is located, have threatened to stage a demonstration to protest against the stalling of the project.
Reporting by Eric Wainaina, David Muchui, Grace Gitau and George Munene.