SERVICE DELIVERY: Gubernatorial aspirant says the Kajiado county government has failed to prioritise issues
Former National Transport and Safety Authority boss Francis ole Meja believes he will turn around Kajiado’s economy for the better if elected the next governor.
“When I look at our county, as compared to others, I cannot for sure tell what serious thing that it has done with its annual billions from the Treasury each financial year,” said Meja.
The former NTSA boss says after completing his term in the private sector, where he served as a banker and in the national government, he feels he has a lot to do for the country.
“The community I come from have invested in me. It took me to school locally and abroad, and I will forever be grateful to them,” said Meja in an exclusive interview with KCN.
He says having worked in both the private and public sectors, he has an advantage in providing leadership for the county.
“This is because if you look at the efficiency of the private sector, where I served diligently as a manager in the banking sector, you can see it is clear I can edge others out. That is the culture I want to bring to this county,” said Meja.
He said he is pained when he looks at other counties and finds they have made strides in terms of tangible development while Kajiado was doing “nothing” despite the billions it gets from the national Treasury and the money it collects as revenue.
“I have a very strong background on integrity. The biggest problem we have in this country is not the human resource or skills but issues of integrity,” said Meja.
He went on: “I have served in government and the private sector in senior positions, and I have never been given a disciplinary letter in my working life.”
He said it was not easy to serve at NTSA and in government and complete two three-year terms while clean.
The former NTSA boss said he strongly believes in integrity because he sees a lot of resources being put to waste in ways that are not supposed to be.
“Many people are languishing in poverty in this county because they cannot access basic needs like water, roads, and empowerment in terms of assisting our farmers access foreign markets for their products, which the county government can provide for them,” said Meja.
The politician, who has set his eye on the top seat, says the other issue is to play a major role in uniting the communities that live in this cosmopolitan region.
Meja, who worked behind the scenes with the late former vice president Prof George Saitoti, says he admired how the late professor united Kajiado by edging out issues of nepotism and tribalism.
“It is sorrowful that today our county is more divided than ever before. If you look at the Maasai community which I come from, it is so divided that it is evident to outsiders,” said Meja.
He talked of the “Red Cow” and “Black Cow” lineages among the Kajiado Maasai and their further divisions seen in their sub-sets.
Meja said he believes that leadership should play an important role in saying no to those divisions, and naturally, that habit will die.
“If leaders will want to take their people in that direction of profiling others from different clans, this thing will grow its ugly head in the community and destroy us,” said the politician.
The leaders, he said, should work and be challenged on issues and not taking advantage of tribal and clan divisions.
He said after working in the banking industry, he had a great wealth of knowledge on service delivery.
“I believe strongly in the service-oriented industry. I offer myself to give direction,” Meja said.
If one looked at the county revenue, he asked giving as an example, how is the revenue collected?
“From my experience in the banking industry, I believe the potential of this county is so huge, but we have resorted to outdated methods. When I travel across the county, I see some roadblocks where revenue collection is done. Those working there are our people and they tell us what is happening with what they collect,” claimed Meja.
He said those are the things, if God blesses him to win the 2022 gubernatorial seat, he will help end.
The politician says he sees a lot of wastage in the county in terms of mismanagement of resources.
“If you can remember, a single event of launching a scorecard once cost this county government a whopping Ksh20 million. Is that the priority of the county? So what after celebrating it?” asked Meja.
He went on: “We need to prioritise issues. If I had Ksh20 million today, I would not spend it on launching a scorecard but rather by drilling five fully-equipped boreholes that will transform the lives of the beneficiaries.”
He said the county government must be mindful of the people in urban areas. A lot of revenue, he says, is collected in urban areas but he feels that they have been neglected as they cannot get a fair share of what is collected in terms of development.
“They contribute a sizeable amount of revenue in land rates, trade licences, car park fees, and many others, but what the county ploughs back in terms of putting up modern roads and cleaning of the towns is questionable,” Meja said.
Kajiado being Nairobi’s dormitory, Meja said, the county has attracted many investors who in return are not enjoying their investments. The towns are dirty, have no running water, and the roads are pathetic, he said.
The politician appreciates that there can never be enough money, but says that planning and putting things in the right perspective can bear fruit.
“Why is it that in some counties like Kakamega and Machakos, one can see tangible projects like the stadium and nice town roads, respectively?” he asked.
“The biggest problem we are having in this county is that they have grown their recurrent expenditure at a very high rate while the development budget is diminishing,” said Meja.
He further claimed the majority of the people employed by the county government were idle and underutilised, yet they were adding more of them to their payroll every day.
“One of my dreams is to have a balanced budget of 50 per cent (recurrent) and 50 per cent (development). If you are efficient in your operations, you can minimise the recurrent expenditure,” said Meja.
He said the county gets over Ksh9 billion every financial year, with the office of the governor being allocated a budget of Ksh200 million.
On pending Bills, Meja said that by the time he was leaving NTSA, they were edging out creditors, adding that there was no way you could have creditors who were being paid immediately they delivered the invoice while others had not been paid for many years. There must be fairness.
“When I left NTSA, they had no pending bills of more than 90 days. I used to track those bills personally every month to ensure that people who have provided us with services are duly paid,” said Meja.