The implementation of a Sh.50 million National Housing Finance Corporation-funded dispensary project in Malindi town is in jeopardy due to wrangles between the Kilifi County Government and national government officials.
Whereas the county government has vowed to continue with the project within the compound of St. Andrews Primary School in Kisumu Ndogo informal settlement, senior national government officials in Malindi sub county and the school’s board of management have opposed it.
The dispensary under controversy is among five projects in the country being implemented by the National Housing Finance Corporation and according to the Malindi Town Ward Representative, David Kadenge, all processes, including public participation were followed before the project was approved.
But on Monday, Malindi Deputy County Commissioner Thuo wa Ngugi and Sub County Director of Education Veronica Kalungu led police officers to the project site and kicked out the contractor.
Thuo told journalists on Tuesday that the land belongs to the school and he was under firm instruction from his seniors to stop the implementation of the project.
“This matter has been the subject of discussions between relevant principal secretaries and the position is that the land belongs to the school and the dispensary cannot be constructed there,” he said.
His position was supported by the school’s board of management, which told journalist at the project site that the school community was opposed to the construction of the dispensary within the school compound.
Led by the Chairman, Said Rajab, Board members accused Kadenge of forcefully taking over school land to implement the project to achieve his personal political interests.
Rajab said the school, which has more than 2,300 pupils, had limited land and lacked adequate classrooms which needed to be increased to achieve the requirements of social distancing following the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“As the Board of Management, we oppose the construction of the dispensary within the school compound. We would be happier if they built it on another site. This is not the right place for the project because the pupils do not require a dispensary but classrooms,” he said.
Mercy Lemmy, a board member, and Nyumba Kumbi ambassador, Francis Mathenge said if the project is implemented at the proposed site, pupils’ toilets, a kitchen and some other school structures would have to be demolished.
They advised the MCA to take the project to Kaoyeni area where a dispensary project under construction had stalled.
Contacted for comment, Kadenge dismissed claims that he was forcing the school to cede land for the project, saying he had no personal interests but those of the community, which he said had welcomed the project.
“The whole of Malindi Town Ward does not have a dispensary and I take it as an honour for the area to have been considered for such a project. I do not know why there is such opposition, but I think politics could be the main reason,” he said.
He said the school compound was the most ideal for the project since there was no public land in the area to build the dispensary.
He said the school administration and the Anglican Church of Kenya, which donated the land for the school, had been consulted from the beginning and that they had initially supported it, paving the way for the project’s approval.
“It is after the project was approved that opposition started emerging, but at a meeting between the Ministry of Education, the County Governor and the County Commissioner, it was resolved that the contractor be brought on site,” he said.
Governor Amason Kingi said in a phone interview on Tuesday night that the ACK Church, which donated the land for the construction of the school, had handed over the project site to the county government and that he would personally lay the project’s foundation stone before the end of this week.
By Emmanuel Masha