September 2018

Kennedy Mwaura dropped out of school for lack of fees only for him to discover his prowess in developing custom-solutions software and mobile App solutions for companies. . 
To most young people, dropping out of school simply means the end of a career and a bleak future for this makes them ineligible for 90% of the jobs in Kenya but not for the case of Kennedy Mwaura alias Ken.

Born in Gatundu North Sub-County, Ken attended Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) after graduating from high school.  However, he dropped out of college in 2013 during his 2nd year in campus after his parents were unable to raise the requisite fees to continue his parallel degree course in Bachelor of Business Information Technology.

While this is by no means considered the path to success, Ken has broken all odds to achieve what to many, would be considered to as just a mirage.

Though his desire to run his own technology company seemed crushed in an instant, this did not kill his resolve.  After struggling for a while in the village, Ken decided to try his luck in the city.

So, one fine Sunday afternoon, he left with a friend he had met during a cousin's wedding to go and try their luck in Kangemi slums, Nairobi with barely Ksh.200, a laptop and a few clothes.

“It really didn’t work out the way I thought. No job was forthcoming and this frustrated me to a point that I almost lost hope,” he recalls.

His turning point came the day he borrowed Ksh. 1,000 from his roommate to go and do some unspecified project.

Ken in his office working on a mobile App.
“I just lied to him so that he could lend me some money. At around 10am, I left for a local pub, sat near the counter and ordered a bottle of beer,” he explains.

Next to him was a man of Asian origin having a drink with a lady. As the female bartender perused through a pile of receipts from the previous night's sale, the man triggered a debate advising her to seek for ways to automate her paperwork. He told her that manual recording was tedious, repetitive, time wasting and was prone to errors thus the need to switch to technology.

With my knowledge in IT, this kind of debate triggered my thinking and got interested.

The bartender responded by saying that they were in the process of acquiring a point of sale (POS) system, something the man dismissed and insisted they should get a good system that would deliver their needs, citing his frustrations to integrate the systems to run his four companies so as to deliver an effective Fleet Management Information System for his Fleet Company. 

“I don’t know what came of me but I found myself jumping in with assertion that I could develop such a system for him,” explained Ken.

A screenshot of the company's ERP system that can automate manufacturing companies, export/import companies and all companies that deal with product distribution.
“He looked at me, probably doubting if I really knew exactly what I was saying,” he continued.

After a short discussion, he booked me an appointment to his office in Mlolongo the following morning to discuss the modalities for the contract.

At exactly 8am the following day, Ken was already in Mlolongo.

“I listened attentively as he took me through their operations, documentations and everything involving the scope of work. A week down the line and I had developed a prototype that impressed him so much. We signed our contract and I received a Ksh. 20,000 cheque as a down payment,” he says. 

Six weeks later, Ken had fully deployed the custom web-based system for them, migrated the database, and trained their staff on how to effectively run the new systems.

“The system worked perfectly well that my client opted to double my payment from Ksh. 60,000 and paid me gave me a cheque of Ksh. 100,000. I could not believe my eyes,” he exclaimed.

With the few resources he got, Ken partnered with a friend, Francis Njoroge, to open a company called EWYN Solutions Ltd. that develops custom solutions for specific business processes and custom software and mobile app solutions for companies.

Their systems include a Fleet Management Information System, a very modern Enterprise Resource Planning System, an advanced bar and restaurant P.O.S system, a School Management Information System, SACCO Management Information System, Matatu Management Information System,  among many others.

Mobile apps include a money remittance App, Tourism App, a Taxi App that also accepts payment via Bitcoin and many more.

Some screenshot of the SACCO M.I.S
“Most businesses use off-the-shelf software or what are otherwise known as Open Source systems. Such systems offer generic solutions and yet businesses do not have generic problems. Each institution has its own unique and specific operations that demand personalised systems to help them perform their tasks in a specific way,” he notes.

Ken takes great pride in their systems which he says are modern and web-based meaning that they can be accessed on multiple devices ranging from computers, iPads, tablets and smartphones.

“We ensure that the custom systems are built to offer the solution needed, as well as offer great business reports and analytics that are very essential for the growth of a business. The key advantage is that our clients get the exact solution that they need for their businesses, eliminating the bulk and unnecessary processes involved in off-the-shelf systems as well as the difficulties and expenses involved in customising downloadable systems,” he says.

Ken adds that their systems are scalable enough to grow with the business as the development of additional modules is easy and fast.

“It’s also good to add that since the business owner is in direct touch with the system developer, it becomes very efficient to get system support. Of importance is the intense security features a custom system offers to secure data, unlike off-the-shelf systems that are vulnerable to malicious attackers since their source code is available to so many developers.”

You can reach Ken via 0729556619.

The National Land Commission plenary session at Thika Town Hall.
The National Land Commission and Historical Land Injustice committee held their hearings at Thika to hear complaints on historical injustices meted upon the people of Kiambu and Murang'a counties. 
During the hearings, tempers flared where residents drawn from the two counties expressed concern over historical injustices meted upon them and their ancestors by multi-national companies like Del-Monte Kenya Ltd and others.
Murang'a residents, represented by Kandara MP Muthoni Wahome and Chairman Kandara Investment Philip Kamau, told the commission that Del Monte ought to compensate the victims evicted and maimed when they were taking over the land during the colonial times.
This came out as tens of distressed and people living with disabilities were lined up as a testimony of what transpired in Del Monte formerly Kenya Canners.
However, Dr. Samuel Torore who is the chairman National Land Commission and historical land injustices however said Kiambu County Government had reached to an agreement where Del Monte has offered over 600 acres of land so that the county government can allow the renewal of their leases.
The commissioner however said that Murang'a County Government failed to agree with Del Monte and that they will broker the talks to see a breakthrough. 
The commission promised to investigate the claims of injustices labeled against Del Monte.

49-year old Jane Kageni and a mother of 3 talking with the press as recuperates at her Thika home.
A teacher is appealing for help after a gynecologist in a prestigious private hospital in Nairobi forgot to remove a 10 centimeter medical clothe in her womb during an operation to take out fibroid.

49-year old Jane Kageni, who is a deputy principal in a Meru school underwent the fateful operation at the hospital August 26 2018.

Several days later, she started developing a severe blood infection and dangerous clots in her lungs  due to the clothe that had decomposed in her womb.

Kageni reckons that her life for close to 2 months has been unbearable as she grapples with unrelenting headaches and severe chest complication.

“I cannot sit down, sleep or eat I have to take strong pain killers to remain sane for even a few minutes,” said Kageni

Speaking from her home in Thika, she lamented that she has been reduced to a pale shadow of her former self to a point that she fully depended on her husband for everything including the basic chores.

The ten centimeter decomposed medical clothe after it was removed after a second operation in a Nairobi Hospital.
The distraught mother of 3 regretted that the hospital in question never bothered to accord her any remedy despite having spent over Ksh.400,000 during the botched operation.

"After 9 days of excruciating pain and serious chest complications, we decided to seek alternative medical attention in another hospital where after several scans, the doctor discovered the decomposed medical gauge in my womb. I was admitted for over 5 days at an extra cost sh. 450,000," she explains.

Medical reports on her condition revealed that Kageni is currently on very strong prescription to fight the blood infection and others to diffuse the clots that are lodged in her lungs as clearly captured in the scans.

According to her husband Mureithi Kaara, their life has totally stalled as his wife requires constant care and he was forced to stop reporting to work to so as to enable him attend to her.

“My wife is alive today only by the grace of God. We are hoping that after the current treatment the subsequent  complications will be dealt with," he said.

He appealed to doctors to always be cautious as their work involved human lives.

Ms. Rosemary Njeri narrates her story to Psychologist Gladys Chania at Thika Level 5 Hospital. (RIGHT) Baby John Gachuhi who was born with congenital amputation at Igegania Hospital on Sunday.

Renowned psychologist Gladys Chania has called on parents to accept and celebrate children born with various birth defects.

Chania has also appealed to communities to also play a part by accepting and providing opportunities for these children instead of subjecting them and their parents to ridicule.

While speaking at Thika Level 5 Hospital after visiting Ms. Rosemary Njeri, 32, who gave birth to a baby boy without part of his legs and hands, Chania acknowledged that such parents faced a lot of stigma and isolation which in turn affected their relationship with the rest of the society.

Baby John Gachuhi was born on Sunday at Igegania Level 4 Hospital in Gatundu North sub-county and later transferred to Thika. Other than his defective limbs, the boy was also born without the chinbone.

“Such parents face a lot of ridicule in the society something that affects the kids both socially and psychologically. I would like to encourage people to embrace such cases and be positive on such births,” she said.

She was happy that the boy’s parents had accepted the situation and were very ready to take care of him just the same way they took care of his other four siblings.

“The boy’s father is very supportive and is encouraging his wife to accept the situation as it is. They are both very ready to defend their son from any negative forces that comes his way,” she said.

The father, 48-year old Stanley Githiinji is a casual labourer while the wife is just a peasant farmer in Mukuyu-ini village, Gatundu North.

Other than the defects on his limbs and chin, doctors have passed a clean bill of health on the boy who was born at 3.2kg.

“Nothing much can be done to his limbs but doctors say that his chin can be artificially rectified. Otherwise, he is very healthy and can grow up to a very normal boy.”

Congenital amputation is a condition where a child is born without a limb or limbs, or without a part of a limb or limbs.

It is known to be caused by blood clots forming in the fetus while in utero (vascular insult) and from amniotic band syndrome: fibrous bands of the amnion that constrict foetal limbs to such an extent that they fail to form or actually fall off due to missing blood supply.

Congenital amputation can also occur due to maternal exposure to teratogens during pregnancy. In most of these such defects occur in the first three months of pregnancy when the organs of the fetus are beginning to form.

33-year old inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic was born with an extremely rare congenital disorder known as Phocomelia, which is characterised by the absence of legs and arms.

Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Nick struggled mentally, emotionally, and physically. Bullied at school, he attempted suicide when he was just 10 years old.

Eventually coming to terms with his disability, Nick decided to become vocal about living with disabilities and finding hope and meaning in life. The charismatic Australian now travels the world addressing huge crowds. He has visited more than 57 countries and given over three thousand talks, some of which have attracted audiences as large as 110,000 people.

Nick has also founded an international non-profit organisation and ministry, Life Without Limbs, through which he campaigns against bullying. Brimming with life, Nick loves to paint, swim, skydive, and surf. He has also published his memoir Love Without Limits, which is an international bestseller.

Happily married to Kanae Miyahara, Nick is the proud father of two sons.

Kevian Kenya Limited  managing director Kimani Rugendo(centre) with part of the  Irish team from IPM Potato Group after arriving in Nairobi for a three days visit in Kenya.They also visited Kevian Kenya Limited factory in Thika.
Ireland agribusiness firm IPM Potato Group on Wednesday signed a joint venture with Kevian Kenya Limited to co-invest in quality potato seedlings all through to processing.
The two firms unveiled Kirinyaga Seeds as the investment vehicle to produce certified seeds for the local market.

‘’The focus is to achieve a very clean quality seed potatoes and our projection is to be able to produce over two thousand tons’  of certified  potato seeds per year  by 2021,” Kevian Kenya Limited  Managing director  Kimani Rugendo said yesterday when he hosted a delegation of thirteen potato experts from Ireland in Nairobi yesterday.

“Currently, we are only going through trials and registration and we are working closely with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services(KEPHIS) who are offering much needed support in soil test, seed test for bacteria and certification,” Mr. Rugendo added Under the partnership, Kevian Kenya Limited will offer two hundred acres for potato planting in its Timau farm in Meru County for the initial trials while IPM Potato Group will offer machinery.

‘’A lot of capital injection will be needed because this is a huge project .We are relying more on partnerships  to help  produce quality potato seedlings  that can boost both small and large scale farmers output. On our part we bring in both financial and machinery support,” Sean Owens from IPM Potato Group said without disclosures on financial support they will be offering.

“We are doing trials on certain varieties and we will pick the best on different aspects that can eventually be commercialized to produce crisps, French fries among others for the local market,” he added

The delegation projects that Kenya currently requires 40,000 tons of seedlings per annum citing a huge demand for the product.

IPM Potato Group is also expected to bring in Germplasm technology (A living tissue from which new plants can be grown) from Ireland which will be taken through tissue culture laboratory to produce mini-tubers which will then be brought to the farm for multiplication.
The latter comes as a plant tissue and is taken through screening process for pests and diseases.

The investor’s projects that with quality potato seedlings, more harvests will be achieved by the farmers where Kirinyaga Seeds will eventually buy the potatoes from the farmers for commercialization and eventually set up a production plant in Kenya that will produce crisps, French fries for local market.

Potato farmers in Kenya have been experiencing low and poor harvests after being duped by unscrupulous traders who sell to them uncertified seeds that end up affecting the produce from their farms.

Kenya is a potato growing country where  most households in Laikipia,Nyeri,Bomet,Nakuru  and Meru counties  relies mostly  on the produce to earn a living but with low harvests buoyed by poor seedlings and subsequent  influx  of the same product  in Kenya from the neighbouring  Tanzania has exposed local  farmers to huge losses.

Safaricom, Senior Manager, Data Center Design, planning and operations, Festus Muga (left) explains about the Safaricom –Thika Data Centre and its critical components to Director ICT, Kiambu County, Samuel Njuguna (right), and Safaricom, Director, Risk Management, Nicholas Mulila during the award ceremony of the Safaricom Tier III Data Centre Certification in Thika.
Safaricom has received Tier III Design Certification from Uptime Institute for the Thika Data Center, thus joining elite data centers in the world to be certified by the leading Data Center Authority.

The certification was achieved after a thorough forensic assessment of all aspects of Safaricom Data Center design by Uptime Institute experts’ team.
"We are honored to have the Thika Data Center certified for international best practices in data center design and operations. The certification provides our enterprise customers with a differentiated service for which independent due diligence has been verified by a global expert,” said Nicholas Mulila, Director Risk Management, Safaricom.
Due to its sensitivity and volume, data storage by businesses is crucial. IT infrastructure must be able to cope with growth and provide consistent levels of high-level performance.
The certification is important to Safaricom because the Thika Center is the main data center for Colocation services. Through these services, the Telco rents physical office space, network or Internet bandwidth and other resources to the banking sector, Telecoms, Financial Services and its own Internal Services.
“We want to provide our customers with the best connection, in the best facilities, no matter where they are. We are glad to have an independent verifier declare that our facilities are up to scratch and are available 24/7 and meet the most demanding requirements of 100% uptime,” said Mr. Mulila.
The Tier III Concurrently Maintainable Design Certification means that the data center will not have to be shut down for equipment replacement and maintenance.
Data centers are critical in the efficiency of data center organization, installation and maintenance of network equipment. They play a crucial part in Safaricom’s ambitious network expansion plan to boost service delivery.
Safaricom has 11 key data hubs in Kenya. With over 4,600 network sites across the country, 86% of the Kenyan population are covered with 3G network and 35% have access to 4G. Safaricom continues to improve mobile penetration, which currently stands at 88.7%.
Uptime Institute is the global authority focused on improving the performance, efficiency, and reliability of business critical infrastructure through innovation, collaboration and independent certifications. It is best known for its Tier Certification framework and its high standards.

A resident of Ngoliba explains a point to Thika Towm MP Patrick Wainaina on Sunday evening  during a public baraza to discuss the future of NDUMANGO Water Project.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina is now calling on the office of the DPP and EACC to investigate the alleged misuse of Sh409 million disbursed by the government for the Ndula-Maguguni-Ngoliba (NDUMANGO) water project in 2015.

Speaking at Ngoliba and Maguguni trading centres on Sunday evening, the MP said that he was shocked to see a report by the National Irrigation Board (NIB) purporting that the project was 90% complete while the facts on the ground revealed that none of the intended beneficiaries had been connected with water.

“NDUMANGO leaders approached me early in May (2018) seeking my assistance to revive the stalled water project. I, through Jungle Foundation, recently injected Ksh. 30 million into it and we have now managed to ensure the water has been connected to the various water points within the three areas. What is remaining now is to connect feeder pipes into the households,” he said.

He accused the NIB leadership of taking advantage of these new developments to take credit and further seek for more funding to ‘complete’ the project.

“I have information that NIB leaders are coming to this place on Tuesday this week with a view of taking credit of what we have done so far and seek more financial allocation to complete the work. I appeal to you to demand for answers on how they spent the Ksh. 409 million that was advanced to them in 2015,” he told the residents of Maguguni.

(Related story: Ngoliba residents elated by irrigation project poised to turn around their fortunes.)

He promised to invite the Parliamentary Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives Committee to visit the area in order to ascertain the facts on the ground.

Wainaina also called on the investigative agencies to probe the involvement of a local politician who has been accused of hiring goons to destroy the newly installed water pipes, lamenting that it was quite unfortunate for elected leaders to sabotage development programmes meant to benefit the same 
people they presumed to lead.

“Just the other day, Makongeni police arrested a suspect found vandalising the pipes at the water collection point at Chania River near BAT. After interrogation, he confessed to have been paid sh. 500 by the politician to destroy the pipes. It is shocking to note that the same politician later that evening bailed out the suspect and is said to be working his way to have the charges against the suspect dropped,” lamented Wainaina.

Wainaina also vowed to petition the National Land Commission to rubbish the controversial renewal of the Del Monte lease to further 99 years until the matter was comprehensively discussed by all stakeholders in public fora.

He failed to understand how the land would be subdivided to benefit individuals saying that such a process was tantamount to abuse and fraud.

“How do you decide who gets a plot of land in the land and who doesn’t? Sharing it to individuals is tantamount to abuse. The land should only be utilised to construct amenities such as markets, industrial parks and other public facilities,” he posed.

Bimal Shah, the Managing Director Broadway Group of Companies addressing the audience at the TDBA-Dress To Impress function over the weekend.
Consumer goods business magnate Bimal Shah has challenged established local business entrepreneurs and industrialists to go out of their way and mentor and support young upcoming business start-ups order to overcome systemic social and financial challenges.

Speaking over the weekend during a business empowerment and networking workshop at a Thika hotel organised by Thika District Business Association (TDBA) and Dress To Impress Ltd, Bimal advised those who have made in business not to get scared of upcoming businesses as the “ocean was big enough” to accommodate everyone.

“There is a big ocean for all of us. I personally encourage all elder generation industrialists to nurture the young Kenyans who venture into business. It is only fair if you teach someone and help them start their own businesses,” said Bimal Shah who is the Managing Director Broadway Group of Companies.

While retracing the steps that their 60-year old business empire has grown from a very humble beginning back in 1958, Bimal acknowledged the need to support local entrepreneurship towards success.

“It was for the same reason that Broadway Group of Companies started the Seven To Seven business programme so as to empower our youth by helping them start their own businesses,” he said.

“With a little deposit of Ksh. 150,000, we give them a fully stocked kiosk worth more than Ksh. 250,000 with the balance payable in very pocket-friendly instalments. To ensure continuity and sustainability of these businesses, we first send the recipients of these kiosks for a one-week managerial training at Strathmore University,” he continued.

However, Bimal challenged the youth to refrain from instant gratification as it was the main challenge that killed business start-ups adding that one thing that killed young businesses was lack of innovation.

He said that most people just plunged themselves into an already saturated business market instead of thinking beyond what other established businesses were doing thus overcrowding the market with a particular product and leaving other opportunities unexploited.

“It has taken Broadway over 60 years to be the household name that it is today. Business branding is long-term and it will take a long period for any business to really brand itself. You got to be patient, passionate with what you do and always think outside the box,” he advised the youth.  

Some of the participants in the TDBA-Dress To Impress forum doing some networking.
Generational Business Branding.

Bimal encouraged parents to groom their children into their businesses early enough so as to teach them the values of working together as a family so as to prepare them for take-over once the pioneers of such businesses called it a day.

Dr. Susan Gitau, a renowned Counselling Psychologist and a Certified Professional Mediator noted that most young people failed in business for the lack of passion and due to impatience in what they were doing.

She encouraged them to seek for mentors both in real life and from online profiles who would trigger their way of thinking and doing things.

“The biggest challenge we have with our youth is the drive for instant results and gratification which does not work in business. Think about what makes you tick and couple it with your hobbies and interests and pursue to achieve your dreams,” she said.

She discouraged young people from selling out their business ideas to established entrepreneurs but instead seek ways of partnering with them to enable them grow and establish their own brands.

Sarah Karingi, CEO Global Networks Investment Ltd encouraged the business community to take advantage of all available opportunities to network and grow their business empires.

Host TDBA Chair Alfred Wanyoike encouraged Thika business community to always attend such forums as they were meant to improve on their businesses.

He welcomed them to join the association as it was their only avenue to speak in one voice and help tackle common challenges together.

The function was also addressed by the MD Dress To Impress LTD Mr. Samuel Murage and attended by various businessmen and entrepreneurs from Thika, Nairobi and their environs.

Police on Friday recovered a G3 rifle and 15 rounds of ammunition hidden in a shamba near Ndarugu academy in Witeithie Estate Juja Sub-County.
Consolata Onyango stumbled on the weapon as she was tilling her shamba.
According to Juja OCPD Simon Thirikwa, Ms. Onyango hit a "hard object" with her jembe and upon checking, she found a sack in which she found the gun and a crowbar.
She informed local chief Muiruri Muchui who in turn informed Witeithie administration police. 
The officers lead by inspector James Dawai and Corporal James Kinyua rushed at the scene and recovered the weapon.
Thirikwa commended members of the public for giving the vital information which lead to the recovery of the rifle registration number G3-A36539936 with the 15 rounds of ammunition. He said one of the bullets was already lodged in the chamber for firing.
The OCPD added that investigations were underway to establish whether the gun has been in use in any of the robberies that have dogged the area and its environs in the recent times. 
The gun was taken away for ballistic examination. 
Among the senior officers who were at the scene was Juja DCIO Abedie Kiio.

FELLOW KENYANS, as your President, I have a constitutional duty to ensure that legislative instruments presented for my signature conform to our national aspirations, fulfil government’s basic obligations to our people, and are implementable.

The Finance Bill 2018/19 brought to me yesterday fell short of this threshold. It protected the status quo and sacrificed the bigger vision. It took the easy path, instead of rising to the challenges of our time. It was good politics, but bad leadership.

As you might know, I returned it to Parliament with a number of modifications, designed to cure these shortcomings. The 2010 constitution widened Kenya’s democratic space; it also fundamentally altered the structures and functions of government. With it, we have seen a substantial increase in political and bureaucratic representation at every level: we now have two houses of Parliament; the National Assembly has grown from 290 to 349 members; and our new Senate has 67 elected and nominated members. We also have forty-seven governors, forty-seven deputy governors, and forty-seven new county assemblies – in which sit more than a thousand MCAs.

Additionally, we have sixteen independent offices and commissions, excluding the judiciary. As you can see, the enjoyment of our new rights is expensive, unprecedentedly so.

We are very proud of the speed with which we have implemented the new constitution, and devolved government to the people. Having transferred over a trillion shillings to county governments since 2013, we have seen major improvements in service delivery, and improvements in the lives of Kenyans.

That’s why we will continue to protect and entrench devolution and the new constitutional order, notwithstanding the cost.

In addition to supporting devolution, your taxes have been used for an aggressive and successful development agenda.

Today, millions of Kenyans travel on new roads built by this administration; others are under construction. Millions of homes have been connected to electricity. Our mothers now have access to safer and cheaper maternal care.

In addition to free primary education, parents can now send their children to day secondary public schools, for free. Our investment in infrastructure is at its highest since independence. I wish to remind Kenyans that the MoU between Kenya and the United States of America for direct flights was signed in 2008; it is only now, after consistent investment in Jomo Kenyatta International airport under my administration, that the first direct flight to America is a reality.

And the Standard Gauge Railway has been nothing short of transformational. Built in record time, it has moved more than a million passengers, and hauled millions of tons of cargo.

On the social front, we have more than doubled the number of people with affordable access to healthcare under NHIF. In addition, vulnerable and elderly Kenyans – more than 700,000 of them – now receive monthly stipends. But all this costs money. Your taxes have paid for clear, tangible progress; this development trajectory will propel our country to new heights of prosperity.

Funding devolution to the tune of over 1 trillion shillings since 2013 is a bold decision. Building ambitious rail and road infrastructure that is unparalleled in our region is bold. Fighting corruption and demolishing illegal structures is bold to some and unpopular to others. Initiating major social-protection programmes for our vulnerable and elderly is bold. All of this we have done without any substantial increase in taxes.

Now I will address the VAT on petroleum products. But before I do so, I want to mention two things. Reforms to VAT taxation were first introduced in the VAT Act of 2013. Under the transition arrangements passed by Parliament, certain goods including petroleum products were to be exempt from VAT, to allow for the gradual implementation of the new tax. This exemption was to expire in August 2016 but was extended for a further period of two years, to the end of August 2018.

The purpose of this tax was simple. We have to pay for the new constitutional order, and the public services on which Kenyans depend alike. These cost money. Further delay in the implementation of the tax would compromise our ability to deliver basic services to Kenyans, and to maintain the trajectory of our development.

Fellow Kenyans, I have spent the last few days listening to a wide cross-section of views. It is clear that you are all troubled by the effect of the rise in the prices of petroleum products, and its impact on the cost of living.

 I have heard and understood your concerns, which is why I have proposed, as part of my memorandum, to cut VAT on petroleum products by 50% -- from 16% to 8%.

Should Parliament accept this proposal, the price of super petrol will drop from KSh 127 to about KSh 118, and the price of diesel will drop from KSh 115 to about KSh 107. Just as business owners took the new VAT rate as an opportunity to increase the cost of goods and services, I expect them not to take advantage of weary citizens, and to lower their prices commensurately and without delay.

But we still face a financing gap. This measure will not suffice to balance our budget, as required by law. Therefore I have also proposed wide-ranging cuts in spending as well as austerity measures across all arms of government. The cuts target less essential spending, such as hospitality, foreign and domestic travel, training and seminars, and similar categories.

These budget cuts ask of us in government that we tighten our belts. It also ensures that the sacrifices made by tax-compliant Kenyans are matched by discipline from all of us in the public service.

I want to assure Kenyans that their taxes will be used well. That is why, in my memorandum, I propose to increase the resources available to the institutions entrusted to fight corruption. Specifically, I have increased funding to the judiciary to speed up the completion of cases concerning corruption and economic crime. Further, I have increased the allocation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, and to the investigative agencies. I expect these bodies to work together to help us restore our faith in public institutions.

As President, it is my responsibility to put Kenyans first, those living today, and your children, who will inherit the country tomorrow. That means I must balance between short-term pain and long-term gain.

Fellow Kenyans, we have a country to transform, and we must make bold decisions to achieve our vision. I ask Kenyans to join hands and work together for us to achieve this common vision of a free, just, democratic society with long-term shared prosperity for all.
Thank you. God bless Kenya.

Del Monte MD Stergios Gkaliamoutsas shake hands with Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu at the Thika Sub-County Stadium after the signing of a MOU to renew the company's land lease for another 99 years.
A section of Kiambu elected leaders have faulted the memorandum of understanding between Governor Ferdinand Waititu and the management of Del Monte Kenya Limited for the renewal of the company’s land lease to another 99 years.

Senator Kimani Wamatangi has accusing Waititu of not following due diligence in the matter and sidelining other local leaders.

In a letter copied to the chairman of National Land Commission (NLC), Central Regional Commissioner, Kiambu County Commissioner and the Del Monte MD, Wamatangi said that the renewal of lease fell short of the requirements of the law and might deny the people of Kiambu the opportunity to get the returns of their assets.

The senator added that even though he did not objection to the renewal, it is important to note that the land in question actually belonged to the people of Kiambu and the exercise of it could only be within the limitations of a lease.

“It is important to clarify that the land leased to Del Monte belongs at all times to the people of Kiambu thus it is the people of Kiambu to decide the size of land to offer and the terms of lease. This can only be after consultations through public participation and the determination of the current needs of the county,” read part of the letter.

He accused the governor of sidelining area leaders in the matter adding that the decision on whether to extend the lease for the firm or not cannot be arrived at without involving the entire county leadership.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina termed the agreement null and void.

He said that although his constituency hosts the 8,000 acres in question, the deal was signed behind his back. 

“The company cannot give land to anyone since the land that will be surrendered will not be given to the county but to National Government. It is only the National Government, through the NLC that can determine which land goes where and for what use,” said Wainaina.

Wainaina suggested for a stakeholders’ crisis meeting to end the impasse adding that he had in the past bargained for about 500 acres from the company for the construction of an industrial park, a market, a motor vehicle inspection unit and sheds for jua kali artisans.

“The county can go ahead and give a ‘no objection,’ which is its job, but bargaining for a piece of land belongs to the Government, it is not within the county’s mandate,” he said.

(Related story: Kiambu renews Del Monte’s 8,000-Acre Land lease, gets 600 Acres for development.)

Last week, Waititu signed a MoU with the company’s MD Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, agreeing to facilitate the renewal of leasehold for the firm’s 8,000-acre land in Kiambu for another 99 years.

In return, Del Monte agreed to surrender 635 acres to the County Government of Kiambu.
In a brief ceremony held at Thika Stadium, Waititu and Stergios signed the deal ending many years of court battles over the land.  

The governor assured the company of a conducive environment to do business.

Del Monte is also facing resistance in Murang’a County over the same matter.

In suit papers filed in court in 2015, the firm’s MD indicated that political leaders from Murang’a had demanded more than 3,000 acres as a condition to renewing the lease that expires next year.

Governor Mwangi Wa Iria wants the company to surrender the land along the Thika-Kenol highway for a planned city.

In court, Del Monte said it had agreed to give up 500 acres and later increased to 1,000 acres, but the county government refused to renew the lease.

Babies are a blessings but when they come in triplicates they can be a source or real trouble in a family. A family in Witeithie estate in the outskirts of Thika town is now living in dilemma and lamenting the birth of three children conceived through a a successful caesarian operation   at Thika level 5 hospital recently.
Irene Museno and Patrick KaseseNgao were initially expecting twins but to their surprise a third baby presented herself and complicated the equation for the peasant couple .
Speaking at their single room house at Witeithie, the couple lamented that the bundles of joy are causing them sleepless nights as they cannot afford a meal or afford to feed the children with formula milk because the mother is unable to produce breast milk.
The distraught parents who live in a dungy room with their three babies narrated how their lives changed immediately the babies were delivered with life taking a nose dive after the mother developed a mental breakdown.
The triplets mother Museno though congratulating nurses in Thika level 5 for helping and encouraging her said the third child’s appearance brought to her a great shock and from that day, she has been on and off back to the hospital where she has been admitted and discharged over a strange ailment caused by shock and panic.
She said trouble started when her husband Kasese a hawker in Thika was arrested selling clothes  by county government askaris the day she was taken to hospital thus using the Ksh 2000 they had kept by paying for his fine.
She appeals to Kiambu governor Ferdinard Waititu to allow his husband do hawking uninterrupted so that he can support the triplets and the family as they have no any other means of earning life.
Their single room is also stuffy choking with dust and smoke from they cooking apparatus thus exposing the children to ailments.
Kasese now has to play a double role of being the breadwinner as well as nursing the ailing wife and their three babies a task he says is overwhelming to him.
The parents who are at their 30s are now depending on neighbours and well wishers to make ends-meet and buy milk for the babies with neigbours coming in handy to cuddle the babies as the mother is unable to take care of them.
They are calling on their leaders and well wishers to come to their aid as they are living in abject poverty because of the blessings. 

Stephen Mugoro aka Ngelo poses for a photo outside his office during the interview. 

Stephen Mugoro Nyambura popularly known as Ngelo is a house hold name in Thika, one of the founding members of Thika United Fc, he has used his life experience to fight against alcohol and substance abuse amongst the youth within Hospital Ward, his efforts have not gone unnoticed he was recently appointed as a personal assistant to the area Member of County Assembly Hon. Danson Mburu.

He offers his advice to the youth and the people of Thika Town to be wary of the leaders who are out to divide them along ethnic, religion or political affiliation, there is a lot that young people can do to empower themselves and encourages them to work hand in hand with the County leadership to see to it that they reap from this relationship.

1      Were you born and brought up in Thika?

Yes I was born and raised in Thika, as a matter of fact at the Thika District Hospital and went to two Primary schools that is General Kago and Thika Primary, attended Kigumo Bendera- Murang’a and Equator High School where I sat  for my K.C.S.E .  My childhood memories are full of adventure we used to go hunting, swimming  and fishing in places such as Kang’oki, Landless, Kenya Canners, Kotox, Kihingeks in Chania River with my friends most of them who are no longer alive.

It is in Thika where I nurtured my skill and love for football as a matter of fact I was in the first team that saw Thika United formerly MEDISCA get promoted into the Kenya Premier League, I also met the love of my life here too, I have worked in Thika in several popular industries such as Bidco, Swan Carriers currently I work as a Personal Assistant to Hospital Ward MCA Hon. Danson Mburu.

Why do you love Thika? 
I love Thika town because as long as you are hardworking and committed to what you do something has to give. I have encountered many people who have ended up giving up and getting lost in life's challenges but some have found their way back, I am a living testimony  have lived in a life laden in Alcoholism. 

I come from a very humble back ground my mother used to sell porridge and Kienyeji at the main bus stage, and despite all these challenges I have turned out to be a better person. 

We have a town that is full of opportunities whether you are an investor, student,job seeker, you name it, no town compares to ours.

Given a chance what would like to change about Thika? 

Growing up it was quite difficult to secure employment despite Thika being laden with numerous factories my generation really suffered because we had to rely on how well one was connected for one to secure a job; unfortunately this culture has never died.  

 I’d love to see  this change I want to use my position as a Personal Assistant to Hon. Danson Mburu to encourage  the young people in this town take to advantage of the current leadership  and organise themselves in groups let’s re-plan our Ward and see how we can create employment opportunities

Thika is worth visiting because? 

Thika is safe unlike yester years crime rates have dropped significantly, we have a conducive environment for doing business and also we have sober and determined leaders who have Wanjiku’s needs at heart and are ready to work with them for a better tomorrow.

Connect with Ngelo on FaceBook:Stephen Mugoro

Del Monte Managing Director  Stergios Gkaliamoutsas and Governor Ferdinand Waititu signing a memorandum of understanding to renew the land lease for Del Monte land for another 99 years.
Kiambu County Government has officially renewed the leasehold of Del Monte Kenya Limited’s 8,000-acre parcel of land under its jurisdiction for another 99 years.

Consequently, the company has surrendered about 635 acres of its land that was not in used to the devolved unit.

In a public ceremony at the Thika Sub-County Stadium on Friday, Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Del Monte Managing Director  Stergios Gkaliamoutsas signed a memorandum of understanding to authenticate the agreement between the two organisations.

Speaking after the exercise, Gov. Waititu assured the company that his government would them a very conducive business environment so as to encourage more investment within the county.
Waititu challenged his counterpart from Murang’a Mwangi Wa Iria to follow suit saying continuous legal battles over the matter jeopardised the company’s productivity.

“There is no need for court cases over the issue of Del Monte leasehold. Murang’a County needs to borrow leaf and seek alternative conflict resolution mechanisms,” he said.

The governor said that about 200 out of the 635 acres transferred to the county government would be given to the Kenya Airports Authority for the construction of an airstrip with about 20 acres being set aside for a public cemetery.

“The residents of Thika will decide how the remaining piece of the land (about 400 acres) will be utilised when I call you for public participation soon. Otherwise, we will make arrangements on how you can visit the land before this discussion so as to give you a clear picture of the kind of land we are talking about,” explained Waititu.

Concerning the disputed two-acre piece of land at the Thika main bus terminus, Waititu said that his government had cancelled its leasehold and called on the owner to liaise with his office for compensation.

“I am inviting him to come to my office so that we can compensate him with an alternative piece of land. Individual interests cannot supersede those of the general public,” he said.

On his part, Del Monte MD expressed his gratitude to the county government for the gesture adding that the company planned to invest in a new project that will create additional 2,000 jobs.

“The signing of these documents marks a new era in our company as we contribute in the realisation of the government’s BIG 4 Agenda. We are looking forward to a similar gesture from Murang’a County Government,” said Gkaliamoutsas.

He noted that Del Monte employs about 7,000 direct employees and pumped about Ksh. 2 billion into the economy of Thika.

“Our company is the largest pineapple producer in the country, earning Kenya Ksh. 10 billion in foreign exchange. Apart from the Ksh. 2 billion we pump into the economy of Thika, we spend about Ksh. 6 billion every year in purchases of raw materials from small local businesses,” he said.

The signing of the MOU was overseen by Kiambu County commissioner Mr. Wilson Wanyanga and officials from the National Lands Commission.

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