Counties fight over town

Kelvin Wanjohi 16:24 10/05/2013 Nyandarua county residents will not relent until Nyahururu town is handed back to them from Laikipia.

Residents said they may petition the government to have the town given back to them to ease service delivery and avoid wastage of public funds by renting premises for the county government.

This was in support of their Governor Waithaka Mwangi who recently demanded for correction of historical and political injustice by reverting back Nyahururu town to the people of Nyandarua.

The town was moved to Laikipia district which was in Rift valley province during the Moi era.

Nyandarua was previously in the Central province.

Laikipia Senator and senior politician GG Kariuki defended the shift to Laikipia saying that geographical borders should remain as they were.

Recently, Nyandarua governor complained that he lacked office space while office for the now defunct Nyandarua county council is available for use though geographically located in Laikipia County.

County assembly sessions are currently held in a church hall in Ol Kalou town.

During the March 4 election, the offices were given a facelift in preparation to house the county government but leaders differed on the issue leading to the current stalemate.

Sources revealed that the building may be leased and the town be turned into a commercial centre, serving both Laikipia and Nyandarua County.

“I wish we could use the offices that belonged to Nyandarua County Council but this is now a different county. It is a historical injustice that should be addressed,” the governor said.

He said that it beats logic for the headquarters to be taken to an underdeveloped town such as OlKalou, that lacks proper infrastructure.

“The money to put up the structures could be used on other development projects,” he said.

The majestic building that housed the now defunct Nyandarua County Council was renovated just before the general elections and is currently deserted.

Some workers including the county clerk have been moved to OlKalou.

Services such as prison, hospital, police, land offices as well as district headquarters for Nyandarua Central and North are located within Nyahururu town making it a central vocal point for residents.

Nyandarua governor lives in Nyahururu town in Laikipia County.

According to local residents, Nyahururu is best suited as Nyandarua county headquarters since it has the necessary infrastructure and its location is accessible by people who also visit the town to obtain other services.

According to former Igwamiti ward representative Peter Kiguro, most of the investors in the town and agricultural produce that feeds most of Laikipia county comes from the neighbouring Nyandarua.

“Nyahururu should be the headquarters of Nyandarua County since it is a major town in the region and in both counties. It is not advisable to leave it just like any other town because it has for a long time served as an administrative town,” said Kiguro.

“As the constitution stipulates, the will of the people should be respected and hence Nyahururu should be returned to the rightful owners,” said Kiguro.

According to Margaret Wangechi, a trader in the town, the headquarters should be in the town because of its central location.

“We have created this town which used to have one or two main buildings after independence; all the land was entire forest land and we people of Nyandarua saw the potential it had and started investing there,”  said the trader.

They argued that even some institutions that are allegedly in Laikipia, just within the town, are operated by officials from Nyandarua, like Nyahururu High school and Nyandarua boarding.

“Nyandarua North Police headquarters also has a share of what these people claim is in Laikipia. They operate over 10 Kms west of Nyahururu to the interior of Laikipia.

“This is one the main confusion because Laikipia headquarters are in Nanyuki yet one of the main county heads are in Rumuruti, including the OCPD,” observed another source.

However, some traders have a different opinion saying the governor wants to push his own agenda.

They argue that the Town was given away to Laikipia by former Nyahururu mayor Paul Githinji when he signed an agreement with retired president to shift the Town to Laikipia.