The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will pave the way for counties to fund regional blocs to integrate development within the devolved units, Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya has said.
The current dispensation, he said does not recognize regional blocs making it difficult to implement various projects that have been lined up.
Through the BBI, he said the regional blocs will be recognized in law to allow member counties to allocate funds for the planned projects.
As devolution took shape, he said counties came together and formed seven regional blocs which have however remained moribund due to lack of funds.
The seven regional economic blocs that came into being were the Lake Region Economic Bloc (14 members), the North Rift Economic Bloc (seven members), the Central Kenya Economic Bloc (10 members), the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (six members), the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (three members), the Frontier Counties Development Council (seven members), and Narok-Kajiado Economic Bloc (Nakaeb, two members).
“As county governments we are finding it difficult to allocate funds to the regional economic blocs because we don’t have legislation,” he said.
Addressing the media at the New Nyanza Regional Headquarters in Kisumu on Monday, Oparanya pointed out the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) where he is Chairman is unable to carry forward with flagship projects that had started taking shape.
The fate of the projects among them the Sh. 2.8 billion regional bank now hangs in a balance even after the 14 member counties contributed millions from the county allocations for the initiative.
LREB which brings together Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Nandi, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia and Kakamega counties was formed in 2018 to foster development in the region.
The counties banked on the regional bank to avail low interest loans to support various initiatives at the same time support Small and Medium Enterprises to spur economic growth in the area.
Besides the projects, operations at the LREB secretariat in Kisumu have also been greatly hampered by lack of funds.
He urged Kenyans to support the BBI which has also enhanced allocations to the county government to 35% to foster development within the devolved units.
By Chris Mahandara