Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago’s quick rise from rags to riches is now the talk of town. In a short stint as a governor, the outspoken politician has amassed wealth that rivals what seasoned politician with appetite for public cookie jar have managed.
During his campaigns in 2013, the county chief owned an rickety and smokey Toyota Harrier which kept breaking down from time to time.
At the time, he was a junior officer at the Teachers Service Commission residing in a rental house at Nairobi West. At his Kuinet rural home, he was putting up in a small house in his parents’ compound.
Today, the governor is in the league of young and richest governors in Kenya with vast estate accumulated over a record short time. Mandago properties read like the who is who list in a celebrity invite only event.
In the county, he is claimed to own storey rental blocks at West Indies, hundreds of acres of land in Moiben, land opposite Kipchoge Keino stadium, plots within Eldoret CBD and chunks of land in Ziwa, Ainapkoi,
Turbo and Kaptagat.
Other properties in the name of Mandago include rental units in Kimumu and Kapsoya.
Sources intimated the governor has cast his tentacles far and wide with acquisition of property in Nairobi, Machakos and Kajiado counties. They include rental houses at Nairobi West, South C, Langata, Kitengela and Mlolongo.
Public utility land has not been spared either. There are murmurs on the ground to the effect that a playground at Central Primary School has been grabbed and has since been fenced off. Railways land behind Central Police quarters has been converted to a car wash yard and a restaurant. Other questionable acquisitions linked to the governor include seven plots within Race Course ward, 4 at Elgon View and Kipkaren Estate within Kipkenyo ward, land which was meant for squatters.
Four construction companies are said to be owned by the governor through proxies. These are the companies which carry out most of the construction works in the county. There are claims the county boss works in cahoots with county executive committee member for lands, one Nelson Maritim who is instrumental in facilitating dubious land transactions. You might think the soft-spoken CEC is clean going by his soft and amicable demeanor, but sources close to him say he is the man who has gifted Mandago properties among them prime land in dubious transactions.
It is said Nelson Maritim’s fortunes have drastically changed since he joined the county government in 2013. In a nutshell, Uasin Gishu county has become a stepping stone from rags to riches for a few chosen individuals.
Those privy to the 2017 election campaigns say the governor splashed a fortune as compared to 2013 when he spent few millions mainly from donations from well wishers and close friends.
As the list of Mandago properties continues to sore, high number of projects have remained uncompleted, a pointer to an administration whose priorities are elsewhere. Some of these projects which date back to 2015 include Shangaiya Training Camp in Tarakwa ward with an allocation of Sh400 million, Sosiani River Tourist attraction, Sh200 million, subcounty hospitals, Sh300million and milk coolers which were allocated half a billion.
Revelation that vehicle and machinery dealers doing business with the county government part with 15pc in kickbacks is sending wrong signals among the residents. The county fathers are said to have spent close to Sh3 billion on purchases of vehicles and heavy machinery since 2014.
There is growing disquiet on the selective disbursement of county funds to business Saccos as this has been done based on political alignment. The speed at which waivers are issued to the beneficiaries is what is raising eyebrows.
There are fears revenue collected does not reach the county coffers instead it melts somewhere mid stream as the revenue collectors collude with the enforcement department. Over employment as a result of rewarding relatives and friends has led to huge wage bill which has become practically impossible to manage.