Misplaced Priorities in Voi multi-Million Halls of Shame
Newsletter: Impact News
Social halls or community halls are ideally meant to be rendezvous where meetings and social gatherings are held. They can also be used as recreational facilities where youths can meet to showcase their talents and in the process, the government can raise revenue.
During the final years of the Mruttu administration to date, more than seven social and community halls have been mooted in Voi sub-county. Some are still incomplete, others have stalled altogether, while a few others are grossly underutilized.
In spite of this, the Samboja administration, instead of reviving the stalled halls and completing them; is starting new ones, a clear case of misplaced priorities and misuse of public funds; more to the chagrin of many Voi residents.
The social halls include, Bondeni, Dan Mwazo, Sofia Bona, Mwaranginyi, Kaloleni, Talio Nyika and Kirumbi.
Majority of these halls were initiated by the Mruttu administration at a cost of Sh 5m each.
Of these, the only social hall that is centrally located in Voi town and has been utilized fully is the Dan Mwazo hall, which also houses the Voi MP and CDF offices.
The Sofia Bona hall which is being run by Sofia Bona Youth group has been up and running but still not fully utilized.
“The Bondeni social hall has been a matter of great concern to Voi youths and Bondeni residents since it stalled more than three years ago. The facility is now surrounded by the invasive mrashia (Prosopis) and other bushes which could make it a hideout for criminals,” laments Martin Madaraka, a human rights and youth activist in Voi.
He says the hall should be completed and handed over to the Bondeni Youth Group so that they can use it as a recreational facility to nurture talents and earn some income.
He says at some point the Bondeni youth group wanted to take over the project and complete it but could not do so due to lack of funds.
The Bondeni Social hall project does not even have a signboard indicating who the contractor is and how much the project cost as the law demands. The project was mooted during the Mruttu administration.
However, Madaraka says the county government has pledged Sh 1.2 million for the completion of the project.
At the moment fresh controversy has arisen over a new social hall being put up by the Samboja government at the Kaloleni suburb at a cost of more than Sh 6 million.
The hall is being constructed by Ibsey Construction Company Ltd.
Some county residents expressed mixed reactions on the project, mainly on social media, with some saying the figure of Sh 6m could be inflated while others opined that it is not a priority in Voi sub-county.
“Instead of having several halls spread out in Voi sub-county; and which are never completed, the county leaders should have put up ,say two, strategically located social halls, which should be properly managed,” says Mercy Mwali, a Voi trader.
According to Mzee Oliver Mwakirani, the Talio hall was not a priority in the sparsely populated Talio Nyika area in Sagalla ward .He said water shortage and human/ wildlife conflicts are the main issues they want leaders to address.
“Since the hall was put up more than three years ago by the previous administration, it has remained largely incomplete; no water, toilets and electricity” said Mzee Mwakirani.
Contacted for comment, Sagalla ward MCA Godwin Kilele said the Talio Nyika social hall was operational and had been connected to the grid.
“The hall has been furnished and meetings are being held in the facility,” said Kilele.
However, Mzee Mwakirani said the chairs were usually brought to the hall during the MCAs meetings and taken away after that.
“The MCA is not being honest. I come from that area and I know that the hall has no electricity. The furthest electricity has been connected in the area is the Sagalla Talent Academy,” said Mwakirani.