It is now more than three years since the People of Kiambu County handed the mantle of leadership to me to serve as the Governor of our great County. While I have to confess that the journey has been fraught with various challenges, we have also witnessed numerous successes and I thank the people of Kiambu who have stood by my government from the outset.
Once a year, I have had an occasion to address our County Assembly on the state of the County, with a view to highlighting the incremental achievements of the County Government in improving the lives of our People. I now use this forum to summarize a few of these.
No organization can plan without a proper understanding of the resources available to it including financing and human capital. One of the very first initiatives was to integrate ICT in our financial management system by installing an automated receipting and business intelligence system.
This not only helped us to rationalise and clean up data from eight former municipalities through a single platform, but it has resulted in the growth of our own source revenues from a low of Sh1 billion in 2013 to close to Sh4 billion.
With the huge workforce of over 5,000 devolved staff inherited at devolution, the national transfers were sufficient to cover the recurrent expenditure and therefore, the increase of own source revenues as permitted in law was imperative to ensure the County Government had the financial resources to meet its development objectives.
Our residents no longer need to visit our County offices to effect payment for services or fees due, as these are now also payable online, via M-PESA or through mobile payment terminals. We are now in the process of issuing an initial 100,000 Visa-Enabled Kiambu County Cards in collaboration with KCB, to residents. These will be used to effect various payments to the County Government, but will also be used on other platforms such as matatu fare payment and online shopping, amongst others.
Given the pivotal role of infrastructure on economic growth, we have spared no efforts in opening up new roads and improving existing ones. Our goal is to ensure that there is cheap and efficient movement of goods and services to the benefit of all our residents and people doing business within our County borders. During this period, we have rehabilitated approximately 1400 kilometres of rural access roads and initiated the construction of new and modern roads in various parts of the County. Currently, we are also working on converting certain single carriageways into dual carriageways.
Thanks to this investment, our farmers are able to get their produce to the market on time, our children spend less time on the road to and from school and the general movement of Kiambu residents from one place to another has been increasingly eased.
This administration has overseen the installation of 275 street lights using 80Watt energy saving LED across seven urban centres and the installation of 70 high masts using 200 Watt LED across the County is currently ongoing.
We have also dedicated our focus to continuous maintenance and repair of the existing 139 High Masts and 3,300 street lights throughout the County to ensure improved lighting for, and enhanced safety of, our residents. In order to promptly respond to emergencies in the County, we have increased our fire engine fleet by a further five trucks and are in the process of constructing three 24 hour fire stations in Githunguri, Limuru, Thika, Kiambaa and Ruiru Sub-Counties.
Water is life and therefore, water and sanitation have also been a critical focus for my administration as these are core to sustainable development. More than 3,000 residents from Thogoto are benefiting from improved water services as a result of the construction and rehabilitation of water tanks and kiosks.
The Gachie Water Project in Kiambaa is up and running, benefitting more than 5,000 residents. This year, we have also completed the construction of an elevated 100 cubic meter water tank in Tinganga Ward and are carrying out trench work and pipe laying in three other wards.
A pump house has been completed in Kikuyu and Kabete sub-County and new water pipes installed in the Mwiki-Githurai Area. These are a few of the numerous projects across the County aimed at ensuring that all Kiambu residents access to clean and safe water.
This administration inherited several dilapidated health facilities. We have therefore continued to invest heavily in rehabilitating these hospitals in order to ensure that they are capable of delivering world-class services to our people.
Renovation works are currently underway in 15 health facilities ranging from Level 4 Hospitals to dispensaries across the County. In addition to this, we have constructed a total of 21 mother and child health clinics, and are in the final stages of completing a 400-bed capacity state of the art reproductive health wing at Thika level 5 hospital.
We are not just building structures, we are equipping these facilities to ensure quality service delivery. We have therefore over the last few years procured and distributed medical equipment to 86 facilities. This equipment includes diagnostic laboratory equipment, delivery beds, dental chairs, theatre equipment, patients monitors, digital blood pressure and weighing machines, infant incubators and maternity and child health equipment.
For a long time, our young people were being distracted for being idle and choosing the life of crime or drug abuse. We however recognize them as the Future of Kiambu and have therefore committed to investing in youth and sports affairs.
To facilitate these young men and women, my administration has upgraded Thika, Ruiru, Limuru and Kirigiti stadiums and trained 120 football referees and coaches and another 120 volleyball referees and coaches to officiate County leagues and matches at the ward level.
With respect to financial empowerment, Kiambu was the first County in the country to establish a Youth, Women and Persons with Disabilities Enterprise Fund in 2014. In the past three years, we have seen successful applicants through rigorous financial training boot camps to ensure they are skilled in basic financial management and soft business management skills prior to disbursement of funds for their various businesses. To date, more than Sh210 million has been disbursed to qualifying businesses owned by the targeted groups and almost 30 percent of these funds are repaid and now available for further disbursement to additional women, youth and persons living with disabilities.
Finally, we have trained and issued certificates to over 2,000 youth on technical skills such as plumbing, masonry, domestic electrical installations and carpentry among others and are setting up a labour desk to ensure that those trained, have access to work opportunities arising from all the construction happening across the County.
It is my belief, that with the continued support of the People, this Government will continue to deliver on its development promises.
(William Kabogo is the Governor of Kiambu County)