EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MCA OMARI AHMED.It’s true we travel a lot, but we equally learn a lot.
Great minds discuss ideas: The MCA (right) share a moment with H E the goverrnor TAITA TAVETA COUNTY
Get to meet the popular kaloleni MCA Hon. Omari Ahmed in this exclusive interview as he highlights how life has been in office for roughly 3years since taking oath of office ; The joys it comes with, the challenges it presents, the misconceptions about MCAâ€™s and his broader vision for both his KALOLENI ward and the great TAITA TAVETA county. –#JOBinterview
I was born and raised in TAITA at a region called Mwakingali. Later I schooled at the renowned Kenyatta high school-Mwatate before qualifying to join Mombasa poly-technic for my diploma in engineering, currently it is the Technical university of Mombasa. I later I got involved in social work and social projects-a lot of it after my college years.
Professionally youâ€™re an engineer, why did you venture into politics?
Given the above social works and volunteer projects, I developed zeal for service for the people. I believed in revolutionary politics and also development focused kind of politics. I wanted to serve my constituents with a different approach. In the last general elections I gave it my first shot and I got that chance to serve the people of kaloleni
How was that? How did you do it? Would you call it luck?
Itâ€™s all about connecting with the people â€“the common mwananchi and working smart. I donâ€™t consider it luck
Itâ€™s in your third year of political service. Currently what is life like?
Beside the political service I am actually advancing my tertiary education on public administration at KCA Nairobi. Basically itâ€™s quite hectic juggling both politics and studies.
Politically speaking, I am the chairperson for PAC-public accounts committee-TAIATA TAVETA COUNTY. This is all about oversight of the finances and budgeting procedures at the county assembly. Nationally I also hold the position of vice chairperson of an organization that brings together all the MCAâ€™s. We usually hold meeting at the Harambee plaza every fortnight. It therefore means I have to travel to Nairobi at least once in every two weeks. It could either be for my administrative or political service besides my studies and perhaps taking of examinations. Quite a tough life!
There has been lots of misconception about MCA especially by the common mwananchi. How do you explain these misconceptions that you often get trapped in?
With devolution and the new constitution a lot of basics things seem not to be well understood such as the roles of the MCAs. We are like local MPs. Weâ€™ve got that mandate to present grievances and also formulate the laws in the house- Laws that impact on resource allocation and so on and so forth. We hold meetings like thrice a week, in which one of them it is a full day session while the others are usually half day and also various committee meetings to deliberate on issues touching on development. There are usually a lot of movements both within the county and of the county. Sometimes people think we travel just for no apparent reasons. Which is actually one of the main misconceptions.
What are some of the best things about being an MCA?
Serving and getting in touch with the people. You get to travel a lot and gather lots of life changing experiences. However, inasmuch as sometimes I wish to meet and listen to my people, it becomes quite challenging to do so.
Itâ€™s time that we understood the structure of our offices at the ward level. Every office has got people assigned to take care of certain issues presented by the people. They are paid to do so. There are those issues that can be handled down there but still most people will never appreciate it until they get to meet the MCA himself or herself.
There are a myriad of problems that we are presented with on a daily basis and we honestly try our best to handle all.
May you break down some of the challenges and problems that befall your office?
First of all, there are always very high expectations from the public but our best way is to meet them step by step.
Often times come around accusations of nepotism and corruption. Youâ€™ll realize that a lot of the complaints especially those propagated by political foes. My wish was that we present solutions as much as we do present our problems and complaints. I really would like to welcome more ideas to help us move forward.
Our methods of revenue collection and remittance are not up to date. They are still marred with lots of bribery and corruption. We are however in collaboration with Strathmore University looking into the possibility of digitizing our collection such that whatever we collect directly lands directly to the bank.
One major challenge we also experience is the allocation/disbursement of funds to the ward level which is done on a monthly basis. With such a frequency it becomes difficult to plan. My wish was that these funds to the wards be perhaps on a quar-terly basis so that we get ample time to budget and roll out more constructive programs.
What are some of the specific challenges for the people of kaloleni and how are you going about it?
Basic structural infrastructure is arguably the biggest problem: water access, the schools, roads, and housing and health centers. Our youths also aspire to get educated and also get lively hood
We are trying our best to set everything right. Considering the water shortage, we have rolled out a 14millon shilling water project: that is for the 1st phase. 30 million is also being set aside for the second phase to enable all the village residents to access clean water on a regular basis.
Voi Girls school is a gift to the residents of kaloleni. The school has managed to absorb quite a number of the girls. Though due to the Standard gauge railway-SGR, it will be relocated. Weâ€™re also looking into setting up technical training institution and establishing more ECD schools subject to the growing population especially for the Biriakani and Bongo areas. Weâ€™re seeking more bursaries to help support secondary educations.
Street lighting is also in the pipeline.
About health services, 6million has been set aside to construct a heath facility at Gamba region.
SGR also comes a lot with CSR activities especially in the regions of lower Tanzania (Tanzania is an area in the outskirts if Voi town)
What are you opinions on devolution and is Taita Taveta as a county in for that
Devolution is quite fascinating and I believe if we work together and really well then devolution can be realized and not decentralization. There is a big difference. As soon as we can solve our infrastructural issues then the lives of our people will definitely be transformed. Itâ€™s all about managing our funds well and channeling them to the right projects.
We have a lot of opportunities in this county; the mining sector isnâ€™t fully exploited just yet. Heath care is improving by the day.
Many perhaps fail to understand the reasons behind the numerous MCA travel both within and outside the country. What about that?
Itâ€™s true we travel a lot but equally we learn a lot. I was in Sweden sometimes back and we met and shared a lot with the people over there. Their towns are well planned and theyâ€™ve got amazing cultures. Administratively they seem perfect. While in Sweden much of our two weeks was spent at ulricehamn municipality where we got to learn a lot that can be implemented back in our county as well.
The good news is that we are in a partnership program that is destined for technical support, such as the means by which weâ€™ll handle our sewage.
I confidently say the MCA tours within the county, country or abroad are not wasted as sometimes it is placed in the public domain. It is like taking somebody into a class room and the teacher/ lecturer does the part of teaching. It is upon the student to understand or choose not to.
What is your outlook of national and party politics?
I subscribe to the ODM party, that greatly supports devolution and that is our primary agenda. We believe devolution is meant for greatness. And for me it is devolution anytime. It is already here and we must make it happen.
How about your 2017 plans?
I wouldnâ€™t like to comment on that. Let me first finish my mandate and my employers. The voters will have a say come 1017. I still got two more years to serve the people of Kaloleni and the county residents at large.
What is your own performance rating so far?
40-50%….well devolution is new to us. We are the pioneers. Much of what we have done since taking oath of office is setting basis for advancement. It may take a little more time for the people to actually understand or see what we have done so far. I thus sincerely give myself a 40-50% rating. But I promise to deliver more.
What are some of your personal initiatives as Mheshimiwa?
I belong to a Chama of about 25 people; we pool our financial resources in order to invest in a Mega housing project. It is a form of real estate investment and weâ€™re partnering with the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to enable this dream of offering affordable housing solutions. Weâ€™ve already negotiated and acquired enough parcel of land for our phase 1 of the project.
Weâ€™re also looking forward to setting up a production studio so that the youth can benefit from it by developing and nurturing musical talents and the rest.
I have managed to secure some motorcycles for some youth to help them earn a lively hood as they also help repay the loan on a regular basis. If the first bunch is successful, I hope to secure more for more of the youth.
Tell us briefly about your familyâ€¦
I belong to an extended family. Period!
What would be you final words to our readers?
Taita Taveta has for a long time been marginalized but here comes devolution that presents us with a golden opportunity to develop as a people. The fact the standard gauge railway – SGR is passing by has been of great benefit and still will be after completion. There shall be a rail stop over at Kaloleni area. Market access into or outside this county shall be made much easier upon completion. We as a people should even venture more into farming as early as this. We hope to inject more funds for these programs.
And besides I believe TAITA TAVETA is a land of opportunities but kaloleni is the hub of development. TAITA TAVETA COUNTY at large offers the best climate for development. ###
This content is credited to the Editorial Board of voi2day. A team that aims to tell stories and run conversations that matter, in the process ,inspiring readers to think differently, at least about this beautiful Town