July 2019

The youth have been challenged to be job creators rather than wait for employment in white-collar jobs, which have in the recent past proven unavailable.

This call was made by various leaders and youth from Kiambu County during a tour on the 700-acre Bendor Estate in Gatanga Sub-County belonging to businessperson Dr. Chris Kirubi (CK).

According to Samuel Mwangi, an agronomist in the farm, farming is a very viable business venture if only the youth took it very seriously as farm produce had ready market both locally and abroad.

“Availability of (white-collar) jobs these days is very limited even as the demand for the same keeps on increasing. The youth need not sit back and wait at home for the jobs that may not come anyway,” said Mwangi.

“There are numerous opportunities in value addition chain where one can exploit even if they do not have a shamba to farm. Alternatively, for those with shambas at home, one can venture into farming on a small scale and expand as they gained experience. This can be done individually or in groups,” he added.

He however cautioned the youth against expecting a quick fix into their venture as farming demanded a lot of patience and persistence.

Mwangi said that the farm was originally a coffee estate but last year, Dr. Kirubi initiated new projects to diversify their farming and create more job opportunities to both the local community and Kenyans at large.

“Currently, coffee is our main crop, occupying 270 acres. Last year, we introduced hash avocado farming under 20 acres of land which we plan to increase to 60 acres within the next few years. We also have 50 acres under bananas,” explained Mwangi.

The farm is also rearing Kienyeji chicken, fish and goats.

According to Mwangi, they plan to continue increasing and diversifying their production with time in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s BIG 4 Agenda.

“At the moment, the farm has a direct workforce of 500 people thus feeding approximately 2,500 people daily. We plan to increase this number as we go along. Consequently, CK signed a contract with Twiga Foods to supply bananas for domestic use thus supporting the government in its quest for food security,” he said.

The benchmarking trip that brought together 30 youth and small farmers from Kiambu County was organised by Gladys Chania following overwhelming demand from residents.

“This tour culminated from a photo I earlier posted on social media with CK at the farm which created a lot of interest with so many people requesting me to arrange for a session where they could come and learn from the farm. I am happy that they have learnt a lot from the visit,” explained Chania.

She appealed to Kiambu Government to come up with a programme where they could lease the vast idle land within the county to the youth for utilise them in commercial farming activities that would not only create jobs but also boost food security in the country.

She also suggested that they should also sink dams and water pans at various locations across the county that could provide regular water supply to enable locals engage in viable commercial farming.

“The activities in this farm are a big challenge to county governments as they seek to create more jobs for the youth and also to feed their people. We have witnessed so many people earning a living from this venture and it is my wish the same can be duplicated in counties especially when utilising idle land,” she said.

Catherine Muturi, a 4th year Law student, narrated of how she tried doing banana farming on their family land at Kithimani but failed  due to lack of the requisite knowledge to do bananas.

“I never knew that bananas need regular supply of water and manure to grow and just depended on rain water. Most of them dried up. How I wish I had such an opportunity as I would not have ended up losing that kind of investment,” she said.

Catherine is now earning about sh. 3,000 weekly from the sale of sukuma wiki and spinach she has grown on a ¼-acre piece of land.

She encourages other youth to venture into farming, as the returns are very good.

Zacharia Muiruri Ndung’u who is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Procurement and Analysis has over 40 dairy cows at their farm at Mang’u Location in Gatundu North Constituency with 20 of them already lactating.

He says that they have also ventured into avocado and macadamia farming, the proceeds of which he is using to pay for his university education.

“I inherited the idea of farming from my dad who is a career farmer. After campus, I realised that no job was forthcoming and I decided to join my father in the farm and so far I have no regrets,” he says.

Thika Town Constituency has launched a training programme to empower the youth on how to find and earn a living online.

In a programme jointly sponsored by area MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina and Google inc., over 500 youth drawn from various colleges and school leavers were on Saturday equipped with skills on how to use YouTube and other online platforms to do business.

“None of you should sit back and expect to get a job in a world where there are more job seekers than the available opportunities. We want you to think out of the box and be job creators especially now that the internet has created so many opportunities,” the MP told the beneficiaries during the inaugural training at Thika High School.

He added that the training was meant to introduce the young people to online work and provide them with tools, training and mentorship they needed to be able to bid for work and earn a decent income.

He encouraged them to enroll for the “MbeleNaBiz” business plan competition, which is an initiative of the Government of Kenya, under the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) where selected businesses will be awarded grants of Ksh 900,000 or Ksh 3,600,000.

The Competition is seeking businesses that are led by the youth, have potential to create jobs, and has potential for growth.

Applications are open from 24 June 2019 to 2 September 2019 via http://mbelenabiz.go.ke/application.php

Wainaina also emphasised that the Thika Biashara Fund will be solely availed to groups interested in generating income and creating employment.

At the same time, the legislator said the constituency NG-CDF kitty has embarked on a programme to establish 'smart-labs' in all public primary schools to expose young learners to use of ICT early in life.

The scheme, which involves installation of computer labs and Wi-Fi, will kick off in a number of schools and eventually reach all the schools under that category.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina plans to set up Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hubs, fully fitted with interactive digital learning content based, a projector and Wi-Fi in all the public primary schools within the constituency.

While addressing education stakeholders from Thika East and West sub-counties, Wainaina said that there was need to improve digital literacy among the young kids as this would open them up to the world and provide the youth with opportunities for online jobs and services.

“Currently, we have embarked on improving on the schools’ infrastructure and accessibility. Once we are through, we are going to kick-start the construction of computer laboratories for ICT integration in learning. Our computer labs will be complete with a server room, smart boards, projectors and computer hardware fully fitted with interactive digital learning content,” explained the MP.

Wainaina added that over the weekend, the computer labs would be open for use to the members of public but for a small fee for maintenance purposes and enable the host school pay for bills incurred from the use of the facilities.

Wainaina promised to follow up the discrepancies in the enhanced house allowances that affected teachers working under similar conditions but receiving different allowances, a matter that was really affecting productivity and the moral of the teaching staff.

The forum had drawn participants from senior education officers, teachers, headteachers and principals, BOM and PTA chairpersons from Thika West and Thika East sub-counties.

Members of Thika Town Vendors Company take Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina round their multi-million investment which is as a result of an initial sh. 17 daily savings.
From an initial daily savings of Sh. 17, a group of Thika hawkers are putting up an ambitious housing project worth millions of shilling in Kiganjo estate Thika.

Thika Town Vendors Company was formed in the year 2010 as a self-help group where each member was obligated to make a mandatory monthly contribution of sh. 500.

According to the Chairman Joseph Muiruri Kimuti, the idea came up after the tribulations they underwent as hawkers and realised that they might end up retiring from the trade with nothing to show after years of “being chased by county government askaris”.

“Initially we were about 60 of us and only contributed for table banking. We later realised that we needed to invest for our old age and we started contributing money for investment,” explained Kimuti.

Kimuti adds that their original plans were to venture into the transport industry but after some soul searching, they opted to venture in real estate where they managed to buy their first piece of land in Kangangu, Gatanga Sub-County for sh. 150,000.

Eventually, the group opted to invest in a more viable plot of land whose value could appreciate faster and offer good quick returns and that is when they bought the plot in Kiganjo for sh. 1 million, all from members’ contributions.

“After saving for 3 years, we approached one of the financial institutions in Thika who gave us a loan of sh. 3.6 million to embark on this project. They later gave us another loan of sh. 6 million that has now enabled us to construct these bedsitters for the ground floor which we hope will be complete in the next one month or so,” said the group chairman.

George Karanja Mwangi, popularly known as “Waneti”, acknowledges that the ground floor is likely to fetch them about sh. 100,000, which will go a long way in offsetting their loan with the bank.

Karanja who is the group’s Finance Officer says that after this first phase of the project, they plan to raise more funds to expand it to a 4-storey flats consisting of bedsitters and one-bed roomed houses.

He attributed their success story to dedication, determination and integrity in the running of affairs of this organisation.

“We are usually very strict with our members. Anyone who fails to abide to the group’s laid down rules and regulations is either fined heavily or ejected from the association. We have also raised the bar so high for the officials to ensure integrity and openness in the running of the affairs of our company,” says Karanja.

While in a tour to the group’s investment, Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina was amazed by their zeal and dedication towards investing into their future.

He promised to help them raise about a million shillings to complete the first phase of their project in order to open up their income streams via house rent.

“Through Jungle Foundation, we are ready to guarantee you a loan of thrice what you are able to raise now even if you need sh. 800,000 a million bob tomorrow,” said Wainaina.

He appealed to the government to come up with a loan programme that would extend loans of up to sh. 10 million to such groups payable in 10 years at an interest rate of as low as 3% per annum.

He also encouraged other groups to emulate these hawkers and come up with invest generating investments that will uplift their standards of living.

Thika Town Vendors Company plan to eventually venture in full-time real estate business where they will be buying parcels of land and putting up houses for sale and to let.

The body of a police officer who went missing 19 days ago has been found in General Kago Road Funeral Home in Thika Level 5 Hospital on Monday (yesterday) evening.

Constable Stephen Kairu, who was attached to Gigiri Police Station, went missing on June 27.

According to records at the hospital, the body had been taken there by three traffic officers from Ruiru Police Station who had positively identified him.

His body is said to have been found in the middle of the road near Kahawa West’s Gulf petrol station where it is suspected to have been dumped, or hit by a dark Toyota Fielder whose driver did not stop.

Corporal Muktar, Constable Muchai and police driver Constable Aden collected the body and booked the report, Occurrence Book (OB) number 95/27/6/2019 at 8.55pm before taking the body to Thika Level 5 Hospital. Records at the hospital clearly indicated the names of the deceased officer.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the officer was last seen in Ruaka when his mobile phone was last active.

A day to his disappearance, he called his sister Miriam Wamaitha and hinted that he wanted to confide something in her.  He, however, did not deliver the message. He, however, did not deliver the message, and instead said he would go home and relay the crucial message face to face.

The family complained that even as they went to the station to follow up on the whereabouts of their kin, detectives did not seem concerned.

Some of the senior officers even insinuated that the deceased officer could have deserted duty.

Bidco Africa CEO Thiagarajan Ramamurthy popularly known as TRM has retired, just two years after he the Thika-based company.

In a statement, Bidco’s Executive Chairman Vimal Shah said in a statement that TRM had voluntary retired as the group CEO and from the board upon attaining the retirement age of 70.

“On behalf of the Bidco family and the board, I would like to thank Thiagarajan Ramamurthy (TRM) for his valued leadership and significant contributions in the last two years as we announce his retirement from the Board of Directors of Bidco upon attaining the retirement age of 70 and we also accept his voluntary retirement as the Group CEO of Bidco Africa Ltd,” said Vimal in the statement.

He added that Bidco was currently restructuring but did not say who was taking over as acting CEO, saying it will communicate in due course.

“Going forward, we will continue with the process of reforming our organisation designs and structures to be world-class in line with our strategy to transform Bidco Africa into a dynamic and responsive organisation made of fully empowered teams,” he said.

Before joining Bidco, TRM was the public face of Nakumatt, representing the company in multiple media and conference appearances.

He was also an evangelist for the new face of Kenya’s burgeoning retail space at a time Nakumatt was on a rapid debt-fueled expansion.

He left in April 2017 ahead of a management shake-up that was meant to enhance performance of the retailer.

At Bidco he was expected to oversee a five-year strategic plan aimed at catapulting the company to a Sh.100 billion in turnover.

This involved setting up new factories at Bidco Industrial Park in Ruiru. The park is expected to feature 10 mini factories to roll out food and beverages products as well as personal hygiene products.

Pedestrians along the Thika superhighway will have to wait until August to get more footbridges installed.

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has admitted of delays in the importation of Sh 800 million from China, blaming a slower pre-export inspection for the delay in shipping the metal structures.

The authority now says they expect these structures will arrive later this month and be installed in August after their officials inspected the footbridges in China and ready for dispatch.

“We are already making the slabs ready so that once they arrive, we will just need two weeks to fix them and open for use,” explained Director-General Peter Mundinia.

Plans to install these footbridges have been on the cards since August 2017 amid questions on when Kenya opted to build the bridges in China.

Late Alex Mwangi Kaburu
Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina has lamented about the heart-wrenching plight that majority of Kenyan families undergo in government offices while pursuing the pension left behind by deceased civil servants.

While speaking when he went to console colleagues and relatives of the Late Alex Mwangi Kaburu who was the immediate Thika East Assistant County Commissioner 1 (ACC 1), Wainaina said that majority of these delays were deliberate as unscrupulous civil servants sought for kickbacks to trigger their processing.

“This country has enough laws governing the transfer of such benefits to the next of kin. Other than cases where there is some family disagreement over who should benefit, most of the delays are artificial as corrupt public servants seek for bribes,” he said.

He promised to assist, where possible, to ensure that the family of the late Kaburu did not undergo this suffering once they commenced the process to follow up his reparation.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina signing the condolence book for the Late Alex Kaburu. He is flanked by Thika East DCC Thomas Sankei (extreme left) and other senior officials of his office.
He described the late ACC as a dedicated civil servant who was very proactive in executing his duties especially in the empowerment of the youth in Thika East Sub-County.

“He was so passionate in ensuring the youth get into clusters and do productive work so as to deter them from engaging in crime and other social vices,” explained the legislator.

On his part, Thika East Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Thomas Sankei describe his junior as a very dependable civil servant who served wananchi with diligence and total dedication.

“Alex was very instrumental in service delivery especially in the issue of the youth and achieving the government’s Big 4 Agenda goals. We shall really miss him because of his expertise and ability to coordinate various issues,” said Sankei.

The deceased fell ill last Tuesday and rushed to hospital where he died while undergoing treatment at Nairobi West Hospital.

He will be buried on Tuesday 16th July 2019 at their rural home in Nanyuki.

Kaburu has served in many stations across the country. He has served as the ACC 1 Thika East for the last three years.

Thika Environment and Lands Court (ELC) Judge Lady Justice Lucy Gacheru (second left) takes members of the Court Users Committee (CUC) Alfred Wanyoike (extreme left), Gladys Chania (in red dress), Aboo Nurein and Millicent Ngare (partly hidden) through the court processes during a familiarisation tour of the facility on Monday.
Residents of the larger Thika District have been urged to take full advantage of the Thika Environment and Lands Court (ELC) to adjudicate land disputes.

Speaking during a visit by the Court Users Committee (CUC) members who were on a familiarisation tour of the facility, Lady Justice Lucy Gacheru assured them of the court’s commitment to expedite all cases before them and especially to clear the backlog inherited from the Nairobi court.

“Previously, all these cases were being handled from Nairobi. We have adjudicated a number of them as we continue receiving new ones from Thika and Kiambu. I urge all those with any land cases to make full use of this court,” said Justice Gacheru.

She thanked Kiambu County Government for donating the facility to the judiciary saying that this has gone a long way in the administration of justice both in environmental disputes as well as in cases involving land ownership.

“I would like to personally thank the governor (Ferdinand Waititu) for donating the chambers to us. We can never take that for granted. Likewise, in the spirit of Public-Private Partnership, I urge the local community to work hand in hand with us as we work on the pending renovations and improvements,” she said.

Alfred Wanyoike, who led the civilian CUC team visiting the court, promised to mobilise community support to help it serve the people better and with speed.

“We will accord your team maximum support and go an extra mile to mobilise for resources to ensure this place is more habitable and well equipped to serve our people,” said Wanyoike, who is also the Thika District Business Association (TDBA) Chairman.

Madam Gladys Chania donated a cabinet to help the court store their documents.

The CUC is the link between the judiciary and the public who are the key stakeholders in judicial administration.

In 2006, the Judiciary came up with the idea of having CUCs to address the frustration over the shroud of mystery that has continued to surround the Judiciary and judicial processes.  

The Thika ELC was started in 2017 to deal with disputes relating to land administration and management as well as environmental cases within Kiambu County.

It is located directly opposite the Thika Sub-County Stadium's main gate.

It has the same status as the High Court and has original and appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine all disputes in accordance with Article 162(2)(b) of the Constitution and with the provisions of  Act or any other written law relating to  environment and land.

The court is also empowered to hear cases relating to public, private and community land and contracts, chooses in action or other instruments granting any enforceable interests in land. It also exercises appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of subordinate courts or local tribunals in respect of matters falling within the jurisdiction of the Court.

Madam Gladys Chania (left) and two of the residents who helped rescue three kids living in distress due to their mother's chronic alcoholism. One child is still at large after being hidden by their mother.
Police in Thika are holding a middle-aged man for allegedly defiling a 5-year old minor in Thika’s Ofafa estate.

The man (name withheld to protect the minor’s identity), who is the maternal uncle to the girl, is said to have repeatedly committed the act for quite a long period.

According to the victim who is now in nursery school, the uncle started sexually abusing her even before she joined school.

The victim’s mother is so addicted to alcoholism and barely takes care of her 5 children aged between 11 years and the youngest who is 7 months old.

“These children survive by the grace of God and with the help of neighbours. The mother comes home drunk every day and entertains different men in the house in the presence of these minors,” explained one of the concerned neighbours.

The eldest of the siblings, who is in Standard three, irregularly attends school as in most of the times he is burdened with the responsibility of taking care of his younger siblings as the mother is away taking cheap alcohol in neighbouring chang’aa dens in the estate and in Majengo area.

“Last week, I never attended school since I was the one taking care of my three siblings,” explains the 11-year old.

A concerned resident over the weekend reported the matter to us after which we engaged Madam Gladys Chania who took the initiative to rescue the kids.

Through the help of the Thika Children’s Office, she managed to secure a place for them at Macheo Children’s Home in Gatuanyaga, Thika East Sub-County.

“Unfortunately, the mother has managed to sneak away with one of the children but we won’t rest until he too is rescued and taken to a safe place. It’s very sad to see a mother drown in alcoholism as it is the children who suffer most,” said Chania.

She further explained that one of the girls was taken away from the mother to live with her aunt in Munyu village after they feared for her safety in the hands of drunk men who frequented their home for sexual escapades with the mother.

Chania appealed to residents to be on the lookout on such cases in their midst and raise alarm as this would be the only way to save them. She also condemned those who traded in cheap liquor as their activities ruined so many homes.

“What will one gain by exposing such innocent kids to danger in the name of earning a living? The suffering and tears from these kids will definitely come back to you and your children,” she said.

She challenged those in authority to crash these illegal liquor dens as they also contributed to a surge in insecurity in the area.

Del Monte (K) Ltd will next month open a Sh 500 million processing plant in Kenol along the Thika-Murang’a highway that is expected to create 200 new jobs.
The new facility, that will start processing of avocados, mangoes and passion fruits, will have a processing capacity of 60 tonnes of fresh fruits per year.
The Thika-based pineapple juice maker also seeks to supply pineapples, mangoes and passion fruits to Coca-Cola for the production of a new range of health-conscious drinks launched last week.
Coca-Cola had said that fruits for the processing of the several juice brands of Minute Maid Nutridefenses and Powerade will be provided by Del Monte from contracted farmers across the two counties.
Currently, Del Monte employs more than 6,500 employees and creates about 28,000 indirect jobs through the production and value addition chain.
The new facility will source the fruits from local and regional growers in Murang’a and Kiambu counties.
It will then prepare and package the products from the new Del Monte facility for both local and international markets.

Panelist to the Medical Symposium held at Laico Regency, Nairobi on Saturday. The event organized by Mku deliberated on cutting edge management of lifestyle diseases.
Shocking revelations shows that out of the nearly 1 billion people who are over weight globally, nearly 700 million suffer from obesity. Experts attending a medical symposium organized by MKU in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday, said obesity was a trickling time bomb that ought to be urgently detonated before wiping mankind. 

Speaking during the symposium that brought together medical practitioners from India, Uganda and Kenya to discuss the cutting edge management of lifestyle diseases-obesity, Dr. Roslyne Ngugi, Head of Department, International Medicine, MKU said that globally, 1.9 billion people were overweight.

She said out of this, 650 million were suffering from obesity. Dr. Ngugi who is also the secretary of the Kenya Physicians Association and Secretary of the Kenya Diabetes Study Group said drastic and concerted efforts by all stake holders need to be undertaken to contain the global pandemic (obesity). 

"Obesity is clearly a big problem. What obesity is doing to predispose one to other diseases like, cancer, stroke and heart attack," she said. The MKU Lecturer said that instead of waiting for obesity patient to go to hospital when the doctor can do very little if any to help the patient, the symposium was out to create awareness on the lifestyle diseases and how to manage them. 

She said the priority member one is to sensitize people on screening at least once annually. Secondly focus on diet by encouraging healthy diet (foods). Thirdly people must exercise.  She said the American Diabetic Association Advocate for 30 minutes of exercise  5 days a week. 

"But what we are saying since android and technology is here, we should use these technology for the better good of your health. What we are saying is you exercise even if it is for 10 minutes per day. This will reduce obesity," said Dr. Ngugi.

She said currently child obesity in the country stood at 21% up from 4 % only 5 years ago. She said Kenyans should ask themselves what they are doing wrong they are not educating their children. She said MKU has taken the initiative to educate/sensitize the general public on lifestyle diseases. We want to educate the mwananchi, student and teachers sending the message of adopt a health diet and excercise. 

She told those with obesity chalenge to go to hospital so that they can be guided on how to reverse their conditions. MKU Co-Fqounder Jane Nyutu who is also a member of the board of directors of the varsity, said MKU was committed in supplementing the Jubilee Administration in realization of the National Universal Health Care Provision. "We need to have a health and productive population," she said. 

Among those in attendance were MKU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stanley Waudo, Dr. Jane Wanjiku Kamau (KU), Dr. Ronald Mbiine (Makerere University), Dr. Josephat Njuguna, Principal College of Health Sciences, MKU and Prof. Jaydeep Palep, Programme Director, Department of Bariatric and Minimal Access Surgery, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, India. 

Tuta Mionki aka Mwari Wa Thika the rally champion with a passion in driving. Photo Courtesy.
Tuta Mionki Aka Mwari Wa Thika is a Human Resource Practitioner by profession she has curved a niche in Motor Sport entering the history books as Kenya’s first woman navigator to join Kenya National Rallying Championship Premier Class Motor rallying.  She offers her advice to the youth who are would keep saying that there are no jobs to take it upon themselves and take up an opportunity that comes along. She believes that like to the only way to combat the negative perception about lack of jobs in Kenya is pursue whatever one is passionate about with a lot of enthusiasm.

1.      Did you grow up in Thika? 

I was born in Juja Kalimoni and we later moved to Thika, I  went to Thika Memorial Church School for Kindergarten, enrolled to Gatumaini Primary School, went to Mary Hill for my secondary school and eventually ended up in Catholic University of Eastern Africa for my tertiary studies. 

I have fond memories about growing up in  Thika, back in the days we used to go buy Chipo and Sause at MacVast Restaurant, buy sweets at Tit Mala Shop down in Workshop road, playing childhood games such as Bladder, Kabadi, exchanging Novels during school holidays, we also had Interdenominational Youth prayers within Kimathi Estate. Watching KTM football FC play at Thika Stadium back in the days and of course recently relegated Thika United Fc beat Gor Mahia Fc.
Watching cars as a very young girl in Thika I vividly remember accompanying my dad who was a fan of the Safari Rally at Del Monte known as Kenya Canners back then to watch the race.

2.      What do you like about Thika Town? 

The proximity of Thika Town to Nairobi and other environs, the fact that you cannot walk a few metres without bumping into somebody you know and vice versa, there is also the influx of leading retail brands and eateries that are common in Nairobi.

3. What would like to change about Thika? 

I wish our town would be cleaner, there is need to also revamp our buildings especially areas around Workshop Road where we still have buildings that were erected in the 50’s still up there is a huge contrast when you compare them with what you see when coming into town via Gatitu area. Roads within estates such as Kimathi need to be repaired it’s such an eye sore.  How I wish we could regain Thika’s status of being the Birmingham of Kenyan too.

4. What three things would you say to sell Thika as a place is worth visiting?

They should visit Thika Town because there are plenty of recreational sites such as Thika and Chania Falls at Blue Post when it rains properly, Thika has the best Pork eateries, as well as quite vibrant entertainment culture, though I wish we would have a movie theatre here too.
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