Did Sh70m pending bill drive granny to early grave?
By Wanja Waweru
Ms. Ann Nyambura Ndugire, 76, a well-known farmer and female contractor from Nyandarua known as Cucu, has passed away.
Ms. Ndugire, who passed away on Friday, rose to fame in Nyandarua after being hired by the county government to tarmac and install cabro paving blocks in Ol Kalou town.
She successfully completed the project, giving the formerly dusty and weed-filled town a fresh appearance.
Residents, family members, acquaintances and workers for the building business all agree that she died as a result of the pains, pressure, and stress she endured while pleading and pushing for the money.
Because the government neglected to pay Sh70 million for the job, the World Bank-funded beautifying flagship contract turned into agony for her and her family.
Cucu once chained herself outside the governor’s office after appealing for the money for months. This caused a stir among the populace, who staged multiple protests in her favor.
“Her health condition started deteriorating during the time she was fighting for the payments leading to several protests from the residents. She was heavily indebted, she had taken loans to do the jobs. The situation worsened when auctioneers came after her property, she had to sell almost every family asset, she was depressed yet she had successfully implemented the project. She died with many debts including salaries of her employees most of them mothers and youths from Huruma slums in Ol Kalou town,” her son Mr Raphael Ndugire said.
When things became difficult, Ms. Ndugire turned to begging from friends and her staff in an effort to prevent the auctioneer’s hammer from falling on her home. Eventually, she was able to raise some money and put the auctioneers and banks who were seeking her property out of business.
Raphael claims that the county government refused to pay his mother’s dues on the grounds that the work needed to be audited.
“She moved to courts to compel the county government to clear her dues, but the case did not proceed after her pockets ran dry. She could not afford the lawyers yet more auctioneers and banks were on her neck. All these left my mother a very depressed woman, she was since in and out of the hospital but without proper medical care for lack of money,” the son added.
Her son’s sentiments were echoed by Mr John Githinji, director of Johnmax, a land brokerage company in Nyandarua, who was a close business associate and beneficiary of Cucu’s generosity and mentorship on business.
“She died a very stressed woman, her health conditions started failing after the government failed her, and she was heavily in debt and depressed. Cucu was very caring to the young men and women. She was very generous and supportive to anyone with brilliant business ideas, using her resources and connections to help one achieve their investment goals. She is the one who financially and morally supported me to start my business. She was very trusting,” said Mr Githinji.
He admits that through his company, he helped Cucu dispose of her assets to clear part of the loans she owed the banks and her employees.
“It was very painful to assist someone who assisted me grow in business dispose of her assets, but she was very caring, she also owed some mothers who worked for her who came crying about lack of school fees for their children,” said Mr Githinji.