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Residents Demand Action After Rogue Contractors From MP’s Office Dupe Them Of Their Stima Rahisi Money.

When the ‘Stima Rahisi’ project was launched in 2015, the underprivileged Kenyans were very hopeful that their homes would finally get connected to the national grid. However, it is becoming apparent that a new scam involving some unscuprilous people is costing the same innocent poor Kenyans millions of shillings, thereby denying these poor Kenyans the opportunity to benefit from this initiative.

Residents of Gatundu North Constituency, who at first were very optimistic of the programme are now a very disgruntled and dejected lot since those charged with the responsibility are now demanding a mandatory payment of between sh. 6,500 and sh. 10,000 allegedly for installing electricity to their homes depending on the financial ability of the beneficiaries.

They have refused to let any beneficiary to pay the legally accepted amount of Sh. 1,160 and now openly blackmailing all those people who question the deviation in price by denying them any chance to be connected to the national grid.

80 year-old Wanjiku Gachai from Gatina Area of Mang’u Ward claims to have paid sh. 2,500 for connection but has never benefitted from the same. She claims that once she demanded to have those people complete the work, they demanded sh. 4,000 more to enable them ‘rush’ the process, an amount that she did not have.

“I paid sh. 2,500 three months ago. Now they are demanding another 4,000 which I don’t have. When I went to the office (CDF Gatundu North) they said that they were not going to go ahead with the work until I paid the money,” she said.

She added that it was only after she created a scene that they gave in and brought some materials to her house, only for them to damp them there and vanish.

Silvia Wangari Njuguna is another victim of the clique of fraudsters. She has paid sh. 6,000 but is yet to receive any electricity.

One thing was very conspicuous in all the cases we bounced into… None of the victims bore any receipt or proof that they had paid any money to this cartel. It was also evident that they had never visited any Kenya Power office nor had documents to show acknowledgement of any of these transactions. This cartel work as brokers to link the victims to the power firm, an exercise that was done in total secrecy. All they had were registration forms only.

Due to this cartel and these imposed illegal connection charges, very few people have benefitted. Connections are very selective to a point where a homestead is denied access whereas the next door neighbour is connected due to the same reason.

A spot check in various wards in the constituency revealed that information about this programme was so skewed and that it was released to the people in very scanty details to conceal the truth. The victims have accused the area MP of not involving them or engaging the targeted beneficiaries of the Stima Rahisi Programme in any decision making concerning the matter.

The exercise has also taken a political angle where only those who are ‘well connected’ with the powers that be benefit the most. Very few people know about this programme or can very well explain how it goes on. This is one concern that the people are airing, fearing that they might be left out of the programme. 

Last week, three of the people involved in the cartel, were arrested by the EACC in Mangu Ward  as they were trapped to soliciting money for another victim. The two men and a lady are said to be the same people who have been going round coning people in the name of connecting people to cheap electricity.

The numerous cases of people losing money in the constituency prompted the victims to storm their MCAs offices to demand for assistance. They presented their petitions to their leaders demanding action less they faced the president for answers.

Speaking to the press, 4 MCAs from Gatundu North Constituency, Ng’ang’a Muthua (Chania Ward), Kimani Wa Gachihi (Mang’u), Sammy Ng’ang’a Nyambura (Gituamba) and Moses Kiarii Munyua (Githobokoni) acknowledged receipt of the complains but alleged that the area MP Francis Kigo Njenga had blocked accessibility of information from KPLC offices in Thika and Gatundu.

“We have about 2,000 complaints in our offices. They have brought their forms here claiming to have paid these money to these contractors. Mheshimiwa (Kigo) has refused to discuss any of these complaints with us, arguing that it is a National Government project that had nothing to do with MCAs. Officers in the KPLC offices in Thika and Gatundu told us that they were under instructions to deal with the MP’s office only,” said Ng’ang’a Muthua.

He added that they were in the process of collecting all complains from all the wards and petition KPLC to act on them appropriately.

“We are also asking Mheshimiwa Kigo, why are you silent when your people are suffering? We know that the people running this cartel are his associates. That is why we are demanding to know if he is a beneficiary of this theft,” he said.

Kimani Wa Gachihi said that he had no apologies to make to the area MP for demanding him to account for Stima Rahisi Programme. He said that it was the right of every citizen to benefit from this project.

“We are demanding to know the names of all these contractors who are making it difficult for our people to get electricity. I don’t think that this is too much to ask not unless they have his blessings to rob our people. We will not relent until all area in our constituency are connected to the national grid,” said Kimani.

He added that he was shocked to note that even though the KPLC forms were not for sale, Gatundu North residents were being forced to pay sh. 500 to get the application forms.

“We give him a 21-day ultimatum to ensure that all homes that deserve this power are connected. We also demand to know why our youth are not benefitting from the NYS programme!”

Sammy Ng’ang’a Nyambura connected a recent incident in his ward where a mother and her son perished in a infernal caused by an electric fault to the illegal connections that were being necessitated by the expensive electricity connections.

“Last week, a mother and her son in Gituamba Ward perished in a fire that was caused by illegal electricity connections. This would have not happened had these people been connected through this Stima Rahisi initiative. That is why we demand immediate response,” said Wa Nyambura.

He cited so many cases of negligence by the constituency leadership that had led to Gatundu North lag behind her counterparts in Gatundu South.

On his part, Munyua took his time to outline the disparities that were evident as one compared the two Gatundus. He said that so much was happening in the South that the people of Gatundu North weren’t benefitting from.

“Look at the issue of NYS. Gatundu South is benefiting now for the second time without any of our youth ever getting a chance. They too have benefitted from so many kilometres of road under the national government’s annuity programme compared to zero kilometres of road in our constituency. This is a sign of poor leadership,” concluded Munyua.

He advised their MP to seek solutions to empowering the youth rather than expanding the prisons like he did in Kanjeria Prison.

Early last year, Kenya Power and the World Bank signed a deal to have Kenyans living in informal settlements and in rural area stand to benefit from subsidised power connection charges of up to Sh1,160. In the subsidy plan, the World Bank was to pay Sh19,350 while Kenya Power was to contribute Sh11.970 per connection making up the standard capital contribution of Shs.32, 480 per connection. 

The exercise was part of a programme that the Jubilee Government is implementing throughout the country to increase connectivity. The primary objective here was to reduce poverty and raise the living standards amongst the poor Kenyans who couldn’t and can’t afford the power connection fees. 

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