Governor Joho on the spot as town chokes in mounds of trash

Wednesday November 29 2017

Heaps of garbage in Mombasa's Central Business

Heaps of garbage in Mombasa's Central Business District. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WINNIE ATIENO
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By BRIAN OCHARO
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When Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho delivered his first speech at the county assembly, he gave a list of projects he would prioritise in his second term in office.

Top of his agenda was the thorny issue of garbage collection, with the governor promising not only to develop, but also implement an integrated solid waste management plan to clear garbage in the coastal town.

However, almost 100 days since Mr Joho was sworn into office, the promise is yet to be fulfilled. Mounds of garbage have been lying uncollected in estates and major roads, leaving residents concerned.
CHOLERA

The residents say if the garbage is not properly disposed of, chances are that the region will experience disease outbreaks such as cholera and diarrhoea.

Already, four people have succumbed to cholera in the region, with 80 others being admitted to different public hospitals.

But contacted, County Secretary Francis Thoya put the blame squarely on the national government, accusing it of delays in disbursement of funds to enable the county government to acquire equipment for clearing the garbage.

“We have to admit that there is a lot of garbage. But we have undertaken some measures to address the issue,” said Mr Thoya.

Mr Yogesh Vaja, an official at the Mombasa Cement Company, urged Mr Joho to hire a firm to help the county government to clear the garbage.

Mr Vaja said the county has only four trucks, which cannot manage the task.

“I was clearing the garbage as a contractor but differences emerged between the county and I. That’s when we stopped clearing the garbage. Money was a major contributor that led to the fallout. The county refused to pay up,” he claimed.

But the governor has fulfilled some promises. He had pledged to improve healthcare in public hospitals and true to his word, the facilities have seen a remarkable change.

PATIENTS

Mr Joho has employed specialists, including a neurosurgeon — Dr Ben Okanga — who conducts spina bifida and hydrocephalus surgeries at the Coast Provincial General Hospital every week.?

Dr Okanga said the revival of the neurosurgery department has seen patients coming from all over the region to seek treatment at the hospital.
In partnership with Lafarge-Bamburi Cement, the county government has also upgraded the Oncology Department from the previous two beds to seven treatment bays with a capacity of 21 patients daily.

In the neighbouring Taita-Taveta County, Mr Joho’s counterpart Granton Samboja has effected changes that have been felt across the county in his about 100 days in office.

During campaigns, Mr Samboja vowed that he would streamline the revenue department, which he said had the potential of providing funds for effecting development projects in the county.

REVENUE COLLECTION

Within a month in the office, Mr Samboja sent county employees working in the revenue department on compulsory leave, accusing them of misusing funds. He blamed the county’s failure to meet its annual revenue target of Sh355 million on the officers.

“I have noticed with great concern that the revenue collection in our county has been on a downward trend. The changes we are making are aimed at improving revenue collection and management,” he said.

Mr Samboja has also made radical changes in his Cabinet, retaining only one member who worked under former Governor John Mruttu.

He said the changes were part of his mega plans to stir the county’s economic progress, which he said was not properly effected by his predecessor.

The governor has also implemented various projects aimed at economically empowering youth, women and the disabled.

He has launched a garment industry in Voi Constituency, where youth, women and the disabled will be trained and helped to get jobs after completing the training.