Top Stories / National
Saturday, 16 Jul 2016 18:17 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The cold war between Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Coast regional commissioner Nelson Marwa has taken a new dimension, with the two sides accusing each other of deceitfully taking credit for projects being funded by the other side. Both the national and county governments have promised to address a number of problems in Mombasa, but with local government having a simpler budgeting system, Governor Joho has seemed to have the upper hand in delivering results.
However, the national government retains its discretion in the development of projects, even those which local governments have initiated or contributed to. A case in point is the rehabilitation of the Kongowea Market. The popular market that serves residents of the entire Coast region has been in dilapidated state. In January, when President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the Coast, he directed that the market be upgraded and rebuilt.
The president's message was directed at national government officials, but Governor Joho’s administration immediately swung into action, rebuilding access roads to the market, repainting the buildings inside and providing new stalls. The county government erected a signpost on these projects even before the national government officials could visit the market to see what the problems were.
It took five months for representatives of the national government to visit the market to acquaint themselves with its needs, but by then local residents were all praise for the Joho administration's work. In May, Joho publicly accused the national government of attempting to take credit for work the county government had finished.
The same intention by both sides to do projects, only for the governor to deliver ahead of the national bureaucracy, is replicated in the rehabilitation of local stadiums and works at the Coast Provincial General Hospital. Once Joho’s administration was seized with upgrading the CPGH, which is among health facilities devolved to the county government in 2013, national health ministry officials visited the hospital and Jubilee functionaries touted the government's plan to allocate funds for the upgrade.
At a public meeting CORD co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka in May, Joho said: “We want to finish the renovation at the Coast General Hospital and invite our CORD leaders to come and witness the opening before Jubilee comes and put up their plaques.” Joho's comments were not taken kindly by leaders of the Jubilee coalition, which has been under pressure to penetrate the Coast region.
Despite the county government's investment in Kongowea Market, the national government, through the National Youth Service, launched construction of a small building inside the market, which the local provincial administration say will be commissioned by President Uhuru when he visits Coast next month.
The cutthroat competition over Kongowea Market development saw Marwa warn governors from the Coast region to stop taking credit of national government projects. Marwa journalists in Mombasa last Tuesday that some governors had erected signposts along national government projects to mislead the public that the projects were being funded by county governments.
He instructed county commissioners in Lamu, Kwale, Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Tana River and Kilifi to pull down any signpost erected by the governors on national government projects. “I want county commissioners to ensure that all national government projects are labeled so. And those billboards erected by governors on national government project should be pulled down immediately or else I gonna pull them down myself,” he said.
He added: “We want a clear distinction between national and county government- funded projects. We do not want anyone taking credit for other peoples’ projects."
If the experience in Kongowea Market is anything to go by, the competition over projects at the Coast will be a key battlefront between Jubilee and the governors at the next election.