Yesterday, Friday 18th October 2019, I woke up quite energized, ready for the day’s business, and as has been my norm for the past 5 years, I quickly looked for my phones and started skimming through social media, to update myself on what was making news for the day. Updating yourself first thing when you wake up is a sacred morning ritual for those of us who have chosen digital strategy as a career and dedicated our lives to it.
As usual I opened one social media platform after the other, seeing this and that post and then absent-mindedly proceeding to the next. Little did I know that day’s routine self-update would give birth to a whole different thing; the reason I am penning down this article.
No sooner had I logged into Facebook than I was welcomed by a damn disturbing photo which almost made me shed a tear and one which would eventually make me break one of my professional engagement rules I observe religiously; that of never touching home county politics.
LOWER PRIMARY SCHOOL KID WITH DREAMS
The photo staring at me from my phone that rainy morning was of a kid in a far distance, probably of between 5 and 7 years, in familiar school uniform, trying to wade through the mud of what was visibly a totally impassable road, ostensibly to get to school. (It is the photo at the top of this article).
The photo had been taken a few minutes to 7am by my cousin, who was heading to work, and uploaded immediately.
From the photo, the kid, of lower primary school level, was definitely struggling with the inches deep mud to try and get to school, with the hope of getting education and of course one day pursue her dreams.
One look at the photo and my heart sank; then immediately after, I got angry.
You know why?
Simple; Because I realized that road in a damn sorry state, which the kid was struggling with, is none other than the Difathas-Riagicheru-Kanjinji road in Kirinyaga County, which is literary my rural village home road. It is the road I have known and used throughout my life as it passes right outside the gate of my rural home, The Chronicles Main Shrine. It is the road I can comfortably navigate while blindfolded.
That photo got me very irritated. I asked myself a million questions. Where exactly did we go wrong as a people?
PROBLEM BEYOND DIFATHAS
But the real shocker was yet to come. Immediately I uploaded the same on my online spaces, the reactions went wild. Kumbe, it was not the only road in such a poor state in Kirinyaga. There were tens of others across the county. People had been suffering in silence.
Now, this one came as a real surprise because, as I can recall quite well, immediately the current Governor Anne Waiguru led administration came into power in 2017, they floated an ambitious and much hyped 400 million plan, dubbed “No Tenders,” aimed at upgrading and gravelling 200kms of feeder roads in the county.
Of course, 2 years on, our village road has remained untouched and in that pathetic state, except for some shoddy grading done in a hurry a while back, and one which could not help anything considering that the road needed urgent and serious gravelling.
Definitely, I have been asking myself silently over time, how comes the “No Tenders” Minji Minji magic was yet to reach my village but again I consoled myself that maybe, we were the last on the schedule.
But not anymore.
Apparently, it is not just the people of Difathas who are suffering in silence. Tens of other roads are in that state.
In my follow up yesterday, I was told of and sent pictures of even worse roads. The tales are just shocking.
A guy from a village called Kimbimbi told me of how old men and mothers are opting to remove their shoes and walk barefoot as it is easier to wade through the mud without shoes.
Another narrated about the farm like Piai-Ngariama road.
A guy from a place called Rogoi told me nowadays, they never leave their houses. You can’t progress beyond 100 metres.
A DROP IN THE OCEAN
Get me right. I am not saying no roads have been graded and graveled in Kirinyaga County since Gov. Waiguru took over. No. In fact, there a regions which seem to have benefitted from some good road upgrade. Sadly, these ones are the minority. The larger chunk of the county is only clinging to hope that, one day, big brother ‘No Tenders’ will get to them.
THE WOES OF MWEA EAST, HOME OF DEPUTY GOVERNOR
Even more interesting, the area which appears hardest hit is Mwea East where, ironically, the county Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri comes from!
Yes. Where the county number two in command hails from, is where people are literary wading in mud to their desired destination.
As a matter of fact, the Deputy Governor is my village neighbour from the neighbouring ridge.
So, how does the Deputy Governor get home with these roads, one may ask? Simple.
Soon after getting to power, he ensured he has properly graded and deeply graveled Difathas-Kaumgunda road, which is the next road after ours, a few metres apart, and which heads straight to his home. And when I say proper gravelling, I mean it. That murram on that road is perhaps one-foot-deep or even more. Close to tarmac. Not forgetting that, even at the time it was getting gravelled to this level, it was still in a better state than many other roads around including ours.
So for the Deputy Governor, while on his way from the office, he simply branches from Nairobi-Embu highway and enters that comfortable Kamugunda road and straight to his home.
In the morning, as my father and fellow villagers wade through the mud of a mere 2km stretch for 3 hours plus, the DG comfortably drives out and into the highway. What a contradiction!
Of course, immediately yesterday’s story went viral, I saw a rather shallow argument by some paid keyboard warriors that, the entire blame should go to the MCAs, for not lobbying for roads, a proposition I totally differ with.
You see, here is a road, and several others, right within the County Deputy Governor’s village, whose state he can clearly see as he drives away. Does he need an MCA to lobby for them? Nope!
And then, even more irritating for me is the fact that, I am very much aware of a solid promise made by Governor Waiguru, about Difathas-Riagicheru-Kanjinji road, more than a year ago, yet it has remained just that; a promise.
MURRAM MINES WITH NO ROADS
To crown it all you will be shocked to know that one of Kirinyaga’s and perhaps the region’s richest murram mines are found in Kanjinji village, right where the pathetic road leads to.
Yaani, the people of that area simply watch as huge lorries come, get loaded with murram and then ferry it to far off places yet the road leading to that place, the same the lorries are using, is a farm; literary!
A NOTE TO MINJI MINJI
This is therefore a note to Governor Anne Waiguru, a leader I personally hold in high regard as a hard worker, which I present in the form of a few questions:
- Madam Governor, When will your “No Tenders” roads project ever reach the people of Riagicheru, Rogoi, Togonye, Ngariama, Kathiriku, Karuangi and all those other forgotten corners of the county?
- Madam Governor, has your Deputy, Peter Ndambiri ever told you that he is the only person around Mwea East, who enjoys 100% properly murramed road? That even his neighbours who go beyond his gate lose the comfort immediately they pass the heavily guarded residence?
- When will these kids of ours, who are full of dreams, like the girl captured in the photo that activated this campaign, ever get a conducive environment to chase their dream and become the trendsetting women you regularly talk about?
- When will our hardworking muguka farmers, Kirinyaga’s fastest growing and most promising agribusiness venture, get good roads to be able to get their produce to the market on time and make Kirinyaga rise?
- Lastly, until when will our innocent mothers, wade shoeless, in the muddy roads, like ducks, to get to the shopping centre to even buy some minjis, cabbage and a piece of meat to make us supper, which they do so faithfully?
Over to you Madam Governor.
Mr. Chronicles Alvan Kinyua
At Difathas, Kirinyaga County
19th Day of October 2019
While contemplating how I will get to the shopping centre tomorrow to buy some dairy meal for my mother’s sole cow
EDITORIAL NOTE: This article is purely inspired by the noble cause of getting better roads for the people of Kirinyaga County. There are no political or personal undertones in it whatsoever.