KENYA: Alcoholics in Nyeri left high and dry as Gachagua, Murugi lock horns over clinic

January 2016 DailyNation; The row between Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua and Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi over the conversion of a clinic into a rehabilitation centre escalated Tuesday after supporters of the lawmaker stormed the facility to kick out addicts.

While the county government wants the Karia Health Centre converted into a rehabilitation centre, Ms Murugi has opposed the change and wants it to remain a maternity ward.

But over the weekend, the county government took 13 recovering alcohol and drug addicts to the dispensary, which was constructed using money from the Nyeri Constituency Development Fund and Economic Stimulus Package.

And Tuesday, hundreds of angry residents from Karia Village stormed the health centre to remove the addicts. According to Ms Ann Wanjiru, a resident, the county sought their opinion on the conversion and most of them opposed the move.

“Where does the county government want us to go and deliver babies? We will not allow our facility to be turned into a house of drunkards,” said Ms Wanjiru.

Chanting anti-Gachagua slogans, the residents managed to storm the facility and ejected the 13 addicts before anti-riot police moved in and returned them.

Ms Murugi vowed to seek intervention from the national government.

“I cannot allow this to happen. Two weeks ago, we had a meeting with the County Health Executive Charles Githinji and Dr Nicholas Muraguri, the Director of Medical Services and Dr Githinji promised that he will not turn this health centre into a rehabilitation centre,” recalled Ms Murugi.

The Nyeri Town MP said that she will seek intervention from Dr Muraguri’s office.

However, responding to Ms Murugi’s claims, Dr Githinji said he made it clear the county government was going to use the clinic as a temporary rehab centre until the main rehabilitation centre at Ihururu in Tetu Constituency is complete.

“I want to remind the MP that all health facilities were handed over to county governments,” said Dr Githinji.


Following President Kenyatta decree to destroy the second-generation liquor in June 2015, Nyeri County government partnered with the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) to rehabilitate drug addicts and alcoholics at Karia and Gathumbi health centres.

Karia will host male addicts while Gathumbi in Mathira Constituency will play host to female addicts.

“The number of women giving birth in these two locations is low, another major reason why we opted to turn the clinics to rehabilitation centres,” said Dr Githinji.

Dr Githinji said Nacada gave them a Sh6 million conditional grant to turn the two facilities into rehab centres after its CEO William Okedi visited and approved them.

“At the moment, there is a low number of women giving birth in these two locations, another major reason why we opted to turn them to rehabilitation centres,” said Dr Githinji.

He also noted that the county government through the Facility Management Committee held a public baraza where the community approved it. “If the community approved it, who else can stop it?” posed Dr Githinji.

He said it took a while to turn the facility to a rehab centre since Nacada had not released the money adding that they only entered an Mou last month.

However, he said they had hosted the 13 male addicts at a privately-owned Gatei facility for two and half months before they moved them to Karia Health Centre last Friday.


But Ms Murugi, apart from being angered by the county government’s move to turn the facility into a rehab, said they are using the equipment donated by the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta from her Beyond Zero campaign.

“The equipment were donated by the First Lady to help women deliver at ease in this facility but not for addicts.“At the same time we recently finished constructing a nurses’ house at a cost of Sh2 million so that the maternity wing could be operational. Now the facility has been changed to a home for addicts. Where will our women deliver?” she asked.

The county governments insists that it will add more addicts to the facility which has a capacity of 30 people. It also states that Wamagana and Ujiru dispensaries which neighbour Karia will offer maternity services.

Most of the 13 addicts are blow 30 years of age and are unmarried. Five of them are hard-drug addicts while the rest are alcoholics drawn from different parts of the county.


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