The once high expectations by constituents that Kathwana market which hosts Tharaka Nithi county headquarters would bloom into a fast growing town has now been left a mere wishful thought with no hope of actualization.
Among the 47 Kenyan devolved units, Tharaka Nithi has the most deplorable county offices structures having started from the scratch when devolution took effect back in 2013 with the then regime being forced to operate from Mabati structures to transact county business including county assembly proceedings.
But 8 years down the line, little seems to be happening in efforts to improve the infrastructure of Kathwana despite the high criticism by the current regime during their gubernatorial campaigns on the laxity of the then regime towards improving the market to the required standards.
Surprisingly after assuming the office, the Njuki led county government has been working in the opposite direction on issues to do with the market’s growth which has as a result stagnated its growth to higher levels enough to compete with even other minor towns like Marimanti in Tharaka.
It is in the records bearing the manifesto of governor Njuki on the strategies he was to embark on upon election to ensure Kathwana attains the right economic environment to have vibrancy essential to make it an economic hub.
“Basic infrastructure such as piped water,sewerage,roads,housing and offices are lacking.4 years into the devolution, Kathwana has failed to achieve the vibrancy that should have come with status of seat of TNC government,’’ reads part of Njuki’s then manifesto.
Also Njuki had highlighted how bad leadership had contributed to reluctance of institutions extending their branches at Kathwana, promising to plan the town better to make it modern.
“Very few institutions have opened branches there and the place remains lethargic despite its massive potential. The town is currently growing in a haphazard and unplanned manner despite the potential that new towns present for modern and futuristic planning,’’ reads another part of the then Njuki’s manifesto.
However in what seems to be like history repeating itself, 3 years after Njuki ascending into the power Kathwana is still in the same state with no substantial concerns by the county government evident towards transforming the town.
For instance up to now all key county executives like C.E.Cs and such are yet to be housed at Kathwana but instead resides elsewhere and thus comes to Kathwana offices as visitors. This means all their expenditures which the officers would be spending at Kathwana is left to benefit other places denying the poor town chance to grow.
On the issue of water, Kathwana has to date continued to languish in acute water shortages with residents being forced to go without the essential commodity even for weeks despite the town hosting the vital county offices.
The administration has been on the lime light in the recent past after water bottles branded with the county logo alleged to help county workers quench thirst at Kathwana after taps running dry, went viral revealing the hard ships the common man is going through.
In the health sector, it is laughable that Kathwana has been relying on a mere dispensary which can cater for only simple emergencies which is against any sane administration considering that there has been no known plan to establish a bigger facility.
However residents can breathe a sigh of relieve for availability of specialized modern medical care around, thanks to the Komarok modern hospital at Kathwana which is a private health facility and which even the county has been relying on in case of emergency as evidenced in time of Covid-19 outbreak in the county.
Looking at the progress made towards completion of county headquarters, it is certain that the ongoing construction of the same will not in way see its’ completion before the next polls and the same may be used to lure the voter into re-electing the ones responsible.
From all the 47 counties, it is only Tharaka Nithi county assembly that is still carrying on with house businesses on deplorable, Mabati structures with plans to put up a permanent assembly still in limbo.
One may not be wrong to attribute the laxity and non-committal of county administration to develop kathwana to the fear of investors who had shown interest in making investments at the town, an example being parcels of land that are lying idle after visitors who had earlier bought them from locals to invest ran away due to un promising endeavors by the administration.
Also one may wonder why 8 years after devolution not even a single a commercial bank has shown interest by extending a branch at Kathwana save for few Saccos who are operating within the market. It therefore can’t fit to be an headquarter if residents have to travel all the way to Chuka to seek such services which should be readily available in every economic hub.
Looking at the above issues and the time remaining before the leaders start feeding us with their endless promises and tales, it is quite evident that Kathwana has a long way to go and which may turn to be impossible to attain a status of county headquarters in reign of the current regime.