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Counties

Questions over governor, county officials’ US trip

Mutahi Kahiga
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Governor Mutahi Kahiga and eight other county staff have spent millions of shillings on a trip to the United States, which has sparked complaints from residents.

Mr Mutahi’s team left the country on June 2 and is expected back in the country on June 12 after a week long stay in Reston, Virginia.

Residents, through social media, have termed the trip unnecessary and  a waste of taxpayers’ money as counties struggle to free cash for development.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has previously warned that meeting and travel allowances take a huge chunk of county governments’ revenues.

Senior county officials receive an average of Sh60,000 in allowances per day as per the Salaries and Remuneration Commission guidelines, with a flight ticket to the US ranging between Sh80,000 and Sh120,000.

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Among those who have accompanied the county boss are his personal assistant Nahashon Mung’ora, legal advisor Mwangi Mugo, Water and Environment executive Fredrick Kinyua, and economic advisor Ndirangu Gachunia.

According to a statement released by the Director of Communication in the governor’s office Carol Nderi, the delegation travelled to Reston town for an inter-city exchange programme. Ms Nderi cautioned residents against spreading false information on the governor’s health.

“Kindly dismiss rumours of the governor’s alleged illness with the contempt they deserves. Governor Mutahi Kahiga is well and sound and will be back next week to carry on with his gubernatorial duties,” read the statement.

Unlike other engagements where the governor’s communication team rushes to public, the county wanted his tour to remain discreet evidenced by his official Facebook page which has had little activity.

However, on Thursday social media users made serious allegations relating to the county boss’ health, forcing his office to release the statement.

Details of Mr Mutahi’s visit came amid a storm after the Transport department awarded a contract to ArkRoad Holdings Ltd which has been linked to the National Youth Service scandal.

Deputy governor Caroline Karugu swiftly responded to queries raised by the media and terminated ArkRoads Holdings contract citing “financial constraints.”

Though residents praised her for acting swiftly with Majority Leader James Kanyugo insisting on a review of companies awarded tenders, the governor did not speak out. Their cover was blown up on Sunday when the governor’s economic advisor Gachunia posted photos of their stay in Reston.

Hours later Mr Gachunia was forced to pull down the post.

“He was asked to delete the post because it gave the wrong impression given that the marathon was not the reason for the trip,” said a county official who requested anonymity.

The photos showed Mr Gachunia and Mr Mung’ora in sports gear posing a few metres from the finish line after completing a race.

Since June 2, attempts to reach the governor over a partnership deal with the Duncan Ndegwa Foundation have been unsuccessful as our messages were not answered.

Ms Nderi said that the governor and his staff will be away for 10 days, meeting Kenyans in the US and negotiating deals with several organisations.

They will also finalise on a deal initiated by the late Governor Wahome Gakuru that will see the county receive medical equipment worth millions.

The statement noted that the trip was aimed at revive good relations between Reston and the county “for the mutual benefit of its citizenry.”

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