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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Wajir South, a Constituency without a tarmac road

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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Wajir South MP Mohamud Sheikh Mohammed has decried the squalid situation that continues to accost his constituents in their endeavours to make ends meet, thanks to myriads of challenges.

The area has remained underdeveloped, locked down and without provisions, meaning the locals have no enjoyment of rights like other Kenyans.

“If Adam and Eve came back to life today, the only place they could identify with is in Wajir County,” said Mohamud.

Mohamud popularly known as Dr Omaar says theirs has been a life of misery and suffering as residents have to travel hundreds of kilometres to get state services.

The average distance across the constituency, Google maps analysis show, is about 290km, meaning a round trip is about 580km.

This has been made tough as there is no single tarmac road in Wajir South, not even a quarter of a kilometre, despite the celebrations in 2014 when the first one was laid in Wajir town.

He says that the Sh136 million allocated annually in CDF funds for his constituency is not adequate given the vast nature of the area.

The medic-cum-philanthropist says it has proven impractical to serve the 300,000 residents of the region, the size of three provinces, with only Sh136 million.

“Allow me to see how Kenyan can accept this. Unfortunately, the former representatives may not have looked at things from the page I am looking at now,” he said.

When split into three constituencies, he said, it will be easier to map areas for the government to deliver services.

“I have written to all the government departments to intervene on these development needs, including the President’s Delivery Unit.”

The MP says the area is endowed with oil deposits worth exploring and natural resources, such as gum arabica, which have not been tapped into.

“A quarter of the livestock products that come to Nairobi are sourced from Wajir. We need investments in such ventures to make life meaningful to the people.”

Poll agency data shows that Wajir South is about 21,424 sq km, which is larger than Central (11,449), Nairobi (696) and Western (7,400) regions combined.

According to Dr Omaar, the region has been neglected since 1962, when it was created, with its peers having been split into smaller, manageable administrative units.

In 1969, there were two administrative units, Wajir North and South, of which North was split into Wajir North and Wajir West constituencies.

A further division of Wajir North birthed Wajir East, currently under the hold of Rashid Amin, all this time South remaining as it was created.

Wajir West was split to form Eldas, whereas Wajir East was further split to birth Tarbaj, now represented by Ahmed Bashane.

Wajir South is 48 per cent of the Wajir county landmass and the second largest constituency in the country after North Horr.

There are ongoing works on the Modogashe-Isiolo-Mandera highway, but the road passes the edge of the constituency.

Residents are further worried that “education is in the doldrums and children are failing examinations tremendously”.

“It is a challenge giving service to the community as enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. With the long distances, it is impossible to reach the community and to listen to their plight,” Omaar said.

“A mother who wants to deliver has to travel 290km to get a health centre. A man who wants to go fetch water for his children has to travel a minimum 50km. Is this fair?” he asked.

The government declared and gazetted Dif and Sabuli as sub counties but the same is yet to be implemented, meaning locals still travel 290km for IDs, birth certificates, medical tests and other government services.

For service delivery to be effective, the lawmaker wants the government, through the IEBC boundary review, to split the constituency into three.

“Let the state give us the constituencies, hospitals, running water. We need the last-mile connectivity to reach here. Let the grid be constructed,” the MP appealed.

He presented the proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce before the public hearings ended.

The lawmaker says the constituents’ luck is that they have not had the challenges of al Shabaab attacks; otherwise, life would have been worse.

“We are lucky because the people who live on the border are from the same clan. We talk to each other. Jubbaland government has equally been supportive on matters security.”

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