Waiguru has clapped back at Kibicho after the PS accused the governor of sabotaging KEMRI in its bid to build a Ksh15B hospital Mwea. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has clapped back at Karanja Kibicho after the Interior Principal Secretary accused the county chief of sabotaging KEMRI in its bid to build a multi-billion shilling medical and research facility in Mwea.
While monitoring development projects in Mwea, Kirinyaga County on Friday, February 14, Kibicho termed Waiguru’s alleged refusal to let go of a 100-acre parcel of land for the project as “stupid” and “foolish”.
It is said Waiguru refused to hand over the land in the Wamumu area after KEMRI declined to sign a deal that would see at least 30 percent of manual and non-technical jobs — during the construction — done by the people of Kirinyaga.
On his end, Kibicho termed Waiguru’s adamance on holding on to the land as “stupid” as the governor’s hardline stance could end up in KEMRI picking another county to roll out the project.
“The governor’s decision to sabotage the project is sheer stupidity that should not be allowed to continue,” Kibicho said Friday while monitoring the progress of development projects in Mwea Constituency.
“I am shocked that your governor is opposed to the KEMRI project, which will go a long way in boosting the economy of Kirinyaga County. It is stupid and foolish of one to oppose such a viable project that, upon completion, will be very important to the people of the county that she leads,” said Kibicho.
The PS said Kirinyaga County constituents stand to lose big time should the project be channeled to another county.
And now, Waiguru claims Kibicho could be having ulterior motives in his spirited push to have KEMRI pitch camp in Mwea without observing an MOU with the county government.
“On KEMRI, President Uhuru Kenyatta required an MOU to be signed so that the interests of Kirinyaga people, who I was elected to represent, are taken into account. Is PS Kibicho now superior to the president? What is his personal interest in the matter?” posed the governor on her official Facebook page Saturday.
“If PS Karanja Kibicho wants to engage in village politics and insults, he can resign and join others in early campaigning. In the meantime, he can concentrate on the difficult task of ensuring internal security, including in the turbulent parts of the country,” said Waiguru.
The county chief says she won’t compromise on her quest to have 30 percent of the manual and non-technical jobs allocated to Kirinyaga residents.
“On our part as the county, we have signed the KEMRI MOU and forwarded it to them for their execution. We remain committed to looking out for the interest of the Kirinyaga people. I am sure asking 30% of manual & non-technical jobs for Kirinyaga residents is not too much to ask. It has been done elsewhere, why not Kirinyaga?” she posed.
In October last year, Kirinyaga County Deputy Governor, Peter Ndambiri, said the reason Waiguru was yet to okay the transfer of land to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) was because the agency bluntly refused to enter into an agreement with the governor.
“KEMRI is not willing to enter into an agreement with Governor Waiguru’s administration. That is why the title deed [of the Wamumu land in Mwea] hasn’t been handed over to it,” Ndambiri said while addressing Kirinyaga residents at Riandira Primary School during the 2019 Mashujaa Day celebrations.
“We want to know how our residents will benefit from the project. KEMRI must sign an agreement with us if it wants to be given the land document.”
The deputy governor told KEMRI that the document will only be released once the agreement is signed.
Ndambiri’s statement came on the back of a suit in court that stopped KEMRI from undertaking any development on the 100-acre parcel of land in Mwea.
Ksh15B mega project
KEMRI said it wanted to build a Level Five hospital, university, a medical supplies factory and a medical research center at the Wamumu area in Mwea, all valued at Ksh15 billion.
In late October 2019, KEMRI through its lawyer, Wilfred Lusi, had gone to court seeking to have a September 2019 order stopping it from engaging in construction work on the land, lifted.
Lusi told the Kerugoya Court that a contractor was already on the ground, but was stopped from going on with the construction of the proposed Ksh15 billion ultra-modern teaching and referral hospital on the land after a suit was filed at the Environment and Land Court.
The civil suit was filed by one Leonard Kuria, who named KEMRI as the first respondent and the Kirinyaga County Government as the second respondent.
Kuria through his lawyer D.N. Gitonga claimed KEMRI did not involve area residents (public participation) as required by the Constitution before commencing on the mega project.
Kuria in September 2019 had managed to get orders stopping the KEMRI project from going on.
The orders were issued by the Environment and Land Court Judge Enock Cherono, who ruled that construction could only resume after the matter was heard and determined.