Deputy President William Ruto has replied to questions seeking to ascertain his involvement in the Arror and Kimwarer dams project in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The dams project has caused long debates after it emerged taxpayers’ money was once again gobbled up in projects that didn’t materialize, with the initial cost figures floated around being Kshs 21 billion. DP Ruto, however, insisted the money involved is Kshs 7 billion and that no money is lost, cue different reactions. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga questioned the Deputy President’s decision to meddle and correct the initial figure in the middle of ongoing investigations, and told him Kshs 7 billion isn’t pocket change, “Who are you to tell us? How do you know?” Raila posed, during the 6th Devolution conference.
Speaking at the culmination of the Devolution conference, DP Ruto said as a responsible Deputy President, he must be concerned about all the projects, using an example of his years as a young boy, when he used to look after sheep and cows, and how he was required to keep track of all cattle and note the sick ones and the number. “In keeping with that old principle of my herdsboy life, as the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, yes, I have an interest in the construction of dams,” he said.
He added that together with President Uhuru Kenyatta, they decided to put up 57 dams over the next five years in Jubilee’s manifesto, “The fact we are discussing the construction of dams is not an accident and I have an interest, it is the manifesto of Jubilee.” He noted the importance of water in fulfilling the government’s Big Four Agenda, and the construction of dams will help spur irrigation. On the insistence on correct money figures used in projects, he said as Deputy President, it would be reckless if he didn’t pay attention to numbers, “It’s like a hyena asking a herdsman what is the interest in your herd and why do you know the number of the livestock you are keeping,” he said.
Moreover, the DP brushed aside suggestions of regional mergers, saying the future of devolution isn’t going to be determined by size and population but rather by creative, innovative and visionary leadership. “The debate about size, groupings or mergers is a treacherous anti-devolution narrative that is simplistic, retrogressive and seeks to reverse the hard-earned gains of our reform endeavour,” he stated.
DP Ruto said the talk of creating other layers of bureaucracy or government holds no water considering the fact that revenue utilization is still a problem, with 52 percent of revenue catering for workers’ salaries, 30 percent recurrent expenditure and only less than 20 percent is left for development.