The Kitui County Senator, Enoch Wambua on Tuesday lobbied mobile telephony companies to upgrade existing infrastructure in a bid to upscale mobile telephone network penetration targeting remote rural outposts.
The three telephony companies, Safaricom, Orange and Airtel, are currently upgrading their existing infrastructure and installing additional 30 Base Transmission Stations (BTS) to service the county’s six economic investment zones (IEZs).
This will immensely facilitate the adoption of information communication technology (ICT), trade and investment.
Speaking to the press outside Kitui County Assembly Chambers during the second day of Senate Mashinani sittings, Wambua lamented that several remote areas in Kitui County do not have any mobile telephony signal.
“The residents in those areas of Kitui South and Mwingi areas have to travel for three kilometres to get to hot spots covered with the network to make calls, send text or money,” said Wambua.
The Senator urged the telephony companies to invest in the area in a bid to uplift the socio-economic levels of the county residents.
Wambua said that it is regrettable that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) did not switch areas lacking mobile network signals in Kitui adding that the Senate is mulling over issuing summons to the Director General to shed light on the matter.
Francis Maitha, a resident of Inyali in Kitui South, a remote part of the county that has never realized the benefits of proper mobile network penetration said that ‘The locals have demarcated known spots where they can go to make and receive calls at particular hours of the day. If there is an emergency, things can really be difficult.’
Maitha estimates that such improvement of mobile telephony infrastructure will harness the economic growth of rural populations and help them to engage in e-money trading activities to uplift their living standards.
Another resident who spoke to KNA, Elizabeth Nkatha, a teacher, observed that even in areas served by the three mobile telephone companies, ‘the network is erratic and unreliable.’
“In most cases I use my phone to read official e-mails and communicate via the same means. When the network signal is weak, replying official correspondence through the e-mail becomes hectic. I travel for six kilometres to get to the nearest cyber-café,” she notes.
Separately, Kitui County Assembly has put Governor Charity Ngilu on the spot over ownership and operation of two multi-million projects implemented by her administration.
Addressing the press outside the County Chambers on Tuesday during the ongoing Senate Mashinani hearings in Kitui, the MCAs told Ngilu to come clean on set-up of the Sh.168 million Kitui County Textile Center (KICOTEC) at Syongila in Kitui Central, and the Sh.85 million ballast crusher installed at Kwa Kilui center in Kitui Rural.
“We want Ngilu to stop the cat and mouse games and furnish this house with policy documentations and legal framework guiding the implementation and operation of the two projects, which she established without due approval of the county assembly,” said Majority Leader, Peter Kilonzo.
The Athi Ward Rep said the Assembly will not approve funding for either of the two projects which the county legislative arm has declared as illegal entities.
“As we speak, we do not know who owns or runs the projects, their mode of financing or the bank accounts under which they operate. We demand full disclosure on the two controversial projects,” he declared.
The Nguni MCA, Jefason Kiruru lamented that KICOTEC posed unfair competition to local tailors, saying that it was ill-informed for the county government to establish business entities that directly compete with local traders.
While passing the 2019/2020 budget, the County Assembly struck out Sh.30 million and Sh.70 million proposed by the Executive for garment factory and the ballast crusher respectively.
But Ngilu defended her pet projects which she termed as game-changers for the county in line with her wealth creation agenda.
“KICOTEC has hired 600 youths and even secured a multi-million tender from the State to tailor uniforms for over 6,000 Chiefs and their assistants across the country. The crusher is also set to supply ballast to the ongoing construction of Thwake Dam,” she prided.
Ngilu accused the county assembly of orchestrating a well-calculated scheme to derail her development agenda for Kitui County and vowed to stay put in her service for the residents.
By Yobesh Onwong’a