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How Ndiritu Muriithi plans to cut back wage bill

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By SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
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In this interactive series, we invite readers to send in questions to selected public figures. This week Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi responds to your questions.

1. Laikipia is full of tragic incidents that are likely to discourage one from living or investing there. These are insecurity, mainly cattle rustling that has sometimes ended up with loss of lives. What would be your take on the issue and what attempts are being made to stem insecurity? Francis Njuguna, Laikipia

Laikipia has suffered its share of insecurity. However, it is a wonderful place to live in. Indeed it has the highest life expectancy in Kenya of 71.9 years.

Together with the neighbouring counties of Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo, we have started the Amaya Triangle Initiative ostensibly to seek lasting peace and socio-economic prosperity of the region by encouraging modern technology in livestock husbandry.

2. Your county has a number of private ranches which play host to thousands of tourists every year. These tourists obviously pay for their stay and enjoy seeing a variety of wild animals in these ranches. Does your county benefit in form of revenue from this activity like other counties in the country which have wildlife as a resource? David M Kigo, Nairobi

Yes, there are many ranches in Laikipia. They contribute positively to both county revenue and tourism. More broadly my government is keen to improve productivity of both small-scale agriculture, ranching and pastoralism.

For both ranching and pastoralism, we have introduced and are promoting feedlots. We have also improved the slaughter houses and are working to remove inefficiencies in the value chain.

3. What measures have you put in place to cut down on the wage bill and put more money on development than in salaries? J. Mwabali

I have instituted reforms in the public service including voluntary early retirement. These measures will reduce the wage bill.

We have also put in place measures aimed at improving our own source revenue. We are digitising our systems, especially revenue collection, and building the capacity of the County Revenue Board.

The fact that our local revenue collection has grown by 30 percent in the past few months is as a result of deliberate efforts focusing on local revenue collection.

4. What is your administration doing on boda boda menace in Nyahururu town especially those who park on walkways, leaving pedestrians to dangerously walk on roads? Stephen Mwaura

I am looking into designated parking for boda-boda. In addition, we will soon launch a safety campaign. Moving forward our road designs must consider pedestrians and provide well-done walkways.

5. Sir, you are doing a great job ensuring the roads are clear and indeed being properly carpeted in and around the county’s major towns. The concern I have received from traders as a reporter in the area is the lack of enough space in the newly commissioned market. Have you received the same complaints? What are the short-term and long-term solutions for this apparent challenge? Waweru Kirathe, Laikipia County

I have not received complaints on the market. We managed to redeem the market from encroachers and restored it to its original six acres.

It can now accommodate 2,300 traders but so far it has 1,980 traders categorised according to their merchandise.

Our long-term plan is to have the traders construct uniform and more durable structures that can withstand adverse weather.

We want to reduce or completely eradicate cases of food-borne diseases by having food traders at a central point.

In addition, we have found space for kiosk owners who were required by Kenya Network Highways Authority to move from road reserves.

6. Previous administrations established the fancied Ng’arua Millers but to date it is not functional. Do you have any plan for it? We could use those grounds to benefit tomato farmers. Paul Ng’ang’a, Tandare

Ng’arua Millers was established before the previous administration. My plan is to make the miller profitable as part of the efforts by my administration to encourage value addition of local commodities.

We are building maize warehouses and driers at Kinamba, Sipili and Mutanga. We expect this to increase the maize quantities for milling as well as cushion our producers from being exploited by middlemen.

7. How do you embrace national unity in your county, especially by employing people from other communities that reflect the face of Kenya as compared to other counties in Kenya? Okulo Andrew Guya, Nairobi

Laikipia is very cosmopolitan. At least 24 of Kenya’s communities live here. And this the is reflected in our public service.

8. Does it bother you that the county with a huge development budget is still beset with a huge number of administrative units (wards), such as Igwamitti in Laikipia West Sub-County which became completely cut off from the rest during rainy seasons due to a dilapidated road system? David Kinyua, Nyahururu

Improving infrastructure is a key challenge and my government is up to it. A month or so ago, I held my second roundtable with all road sector players. We had an in depth conversation on how we can maximize on available resources and stop duplication of projects.

9. My question to you is whether you know that the county bursaries for 2017/2018 financial year have never been disbursed to university students in Mukogodo East. If yes, then which strategies have you put across to ensure that accountability is achieved? Johnson Saidimu

We continue to improve bursary coverage and efficiency of disbursement. Last year, we disbursed bursaries totalling Sh52 million to 9,583 students. We believe that a good thing can be better and as such we will continue reviewing and improving our systems for efficiency.

10. Are you ready to allow animal health practitioners to undergo an internship payable monthly and later absorb them in the county? Sammy Gachemi

Yes, we welcome animal health professionals. Indeed, we are promoting feedlots as the modern way to keep livestock. Embracing such technologies and tapping of the potential of the livestock value chain will create more jobs both directly and indirectly.

11. Where do you see Laikipia County by the end of your term? John Wachuma

As the greatest county with the best quality of life, innovation, self-belief and improved productivity. Ensuring universal access to quality and affordable healthcare is key to achieving quality life. That is why we developed a unique approach in enrolling households to NHIF and expand the 52 percent coverage that we have so far achieved.

12. Why do you seem to be developing urban areas more than rural areas? John Wachuma

We are developing both urban and rural areas. The work in urban areas is more known because more people see it.

For instance, Solio Water Scheme covering all the seven villages of Solio Settlement is one of our bigger projects. The Pesi – Salama – Rumuruti road traverses Salama Ward.

And we now have the first surgical theatre in Laikipia North at Kimanjo Sub-County Hospital. In the next few days, we shall be commissioning surgical theatres for Lamuria and Ndindika sub-county hospitals.

13. Some property owners in your county have withstood lots of mayhem caused by herders from neighbouring counties, and who have no regard for sanctity to property ownership. Kenyans of goodwill sometimes believe this can only happen in the so-called banana republics. Sir, How have these disturbances affected your development agenda? How can they be resolved? Komen Moris, Eldoret

Those who invaded people’s farms were removed by law enforcement. I stand for very strict enforcement of the rule of law.

Other active measures include the Amaya Triangle Initiative aimed at changing the economic outcome and improve security.

We have also invested in training of the National Police Reservists and facilities to compliment deployment by the Kenya Police Service.

14. What happened to the construction of Narumoro to Ngareng’iro road? Contractors are no longer on site. Joseph Muturi

The contractors have had capacity challenges and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority is seeking a solution.

15. What are your plans to break the cartels in the revenue department in order to maximise on revenue collection? Stanley Ndingori

We are automating revenue collection to eliminate any wrong doing. Automation also makes it easy for citizens to pay. However, I welcome any specific information that could assist us take corrective action.

16. What strategy do you have to tap the potential of Laikipia’s Equator tourism potential? This scientific natural phenomenon can register tourism success. Mfalaki TN Mwangi, Mohuhi

We will incorporate equator tourism into our strategy. Indeed, countries in Latin America have been able to do so. This will include investment to improve various stop points along the equator. Thank you for your suggestion.

17. By virtue of your election as the second governor of Laikipia, one would be right to say that you are the only relative of retired President Mwai Kibaki who is actively engaged in Kenyan politics. Kindly tell us what you are doing to promote his rich legacy, especially in transforming our country’s economy? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

My leadership style follows in the footsteps of Mr Kibaki. I prefer evidence-based decision-making.

That is why I was the first to publish the second generation of the County Statistical Abstract, pulling together key data sets. This allows my team and I to make decisions informed by data.

18. Sir, I wish to congratulate you for the good job that you have done for the one year you have been our governor. However, I would like to know your timelines for the re-location of the county headquarters from Nanyuki to Rumuruti and the tarmacking of the road that connects the two towns, which will go a long way in opening up the expansive land. Dickson Maitho, Laikipia

We suffered a setback on the construction of our offices in Rumuruti but we expect the contractors back on site.

We expect to invest over Sh100 million this financial year on infrastructure in Rumuruti. On the road, we are lobbying KeNHa to get it done. In the meantime, maintenance works are ongoing on the entire road.

19. There are massive illegalities and corruption in tendering. What actions have you put in place to avoid this? J Mwabali

All procurement is now being done on IFMIS and results published on the county’s official website so that everybody can see what is being done.

Within the next few days, suppliers and contractors will also be able to track the movement of their invoices online – which will greatly improve our efficiency in service delivery.

20. For many years, residents of Laikipia County and in particular women have been complaining of being sexually abused and molested by officers of the British army. What is your government doing to secure compensation and child support for those residents from the British government? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

I am not aware of any incidents of harassment. If you could give me specific cases or details I will certainly take up the issue.

Batuk’s presence has a positive economic impact. That said, we are all subject to the rule of law.

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