Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe
The public buses project by the National Youth Service (NYS) could hit rough road after Parliament questioned the viability of the proposed programme.
It has also emerged that NYS had already spent Sh500 million to purchase buses for commercial use without the approval of Parliament.
According to a parliamentary committee, NYS intends to venture into transport, agribusiness, construction and tailoring as income-generating entities that would be run as commercial enterprises.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the NYS to engage more in commercial activities
But the Budget and Appropriations Committee has raised questions over the commercialisation of the NYS buses after the National Treasury allocated Sh500 million for the purchase of 39 buses to join a fleet already operating in Nairobi.
The committee chaired by Bura Member of Parliament Ali Wario, however, had reservations on the hurried purchase of the buses without a proper feasibility study.
Wario’s committee also noted that the objectives of the project were unclear, whether the buses are commercial or just providing community service and indeed whether the function is a national government one or a county government venture as per the Constitution.
It also questioned whether there was a framework for consultations between the National Treasury and ministries, departments and agencies during the preparations of the Supplementary estimates.
For instance, the State Department for Youth Affairs stated when its officers appeared before the committee that it had not spent any money meant for commuter buses under the NYS while the statement submitted in the National Assembly by the Treasury showed the Sh500 million had already been spent.
The committee was further informed that the NYS had received a notification from the Cabinet to acquire the buses and the Treasury further allocated the funds under the Supplementary Budget.
Uhuru further wants the NYS to expedite its commercialisation agenda, especially in the areas of agribusiness, garment-making and construction.
As part of the plan to revive the cotton sector, NYS will be allocated 100,000 acres of the Galana-Kulalu Complex, and the model National Irrigation farm in the Tana Delta.
He issued the directive as he underscored the role of the youth in achievement of the Big Four agenda for transforming the country through the expansion of manufacturing, affordable housing, food security and universal healthcare.
“The pillars of the Big Four are held up by our youth: in every area of endeavour, our young people are called to distinguish themselves. Indeed, the National Youth Service must play a critical role in the attainment of the Big Four Agenda,” said the President.
The President, who advocated for more public-private partnerships, also directed the Numerical Machining Complex and the NYS Mechanical and Transport Training School to collaborate in skill-sharing and expansion of products in order to tap into the expanding construction market.
“Often, we speak of public-private partnerships as vehicles of economic growth. Whereas these are important, I would like to encourage more public-public partnerships,” said the Head of State.
The collaboration between the NMC and NYS is also geared towards playing a bigger role in the expansion of Standard Gauge Railway and Lappset, among other projects.
The President said the collaboration with NYS will ensure modern equipment owned by the NMC, established 30 years ago but operating at less than 30 per cent, will be put to good use.