The government has finalized plans to set up a central chemical testing laboratory in Marsabit County to serve the northern region of the country.
Government chemist Ali Gakweli said preparations for the facility had started with the government chemist department having secured a building at the local Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) centre.
Gakweli who lead a team on a mission to lay ground for the starting up of the fourth such centre in the country after Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa said the government was keen at taking services closer to the people.
The government chemist who paid a courtesy call on County Commissioner Paul Rotich before visiting the KARLO centre to inspect the structures that would accommodate the laboratory said Marsabit was chosen because of its strategic location in the region.
The centre which is projected to be operational in six months’ time is expected to enable the government to render effective services not only to its institutions like the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the courts but also to the public.
Gakweli pointed out that samples that were transported for long hours and distances do not guarantee quality results besides being both expensive and a hiccup to development adding that the new centre would engage in both scientific research and sample analysis.
“We would like as a department charged with the mandate of rendering laboratory and regulatory services to help in speedy execution of justice in the country in regard to cases that require scientific research,” he said.
According to the official, the proposed laboratory whose setup cost is yet to be established would save wananchi, institutions and government agencies in the region from the trouble of taking samples to Nairobi for analysis.
Gakweli said the laboratory would be equipped with modern genetic analyzer machines that would assist the DCI in conducting DNA profiles on suspects facing murder, rape as well as samples collected from spots of grisly accidents hence speeding up the dispensation of cases at the law courts.
The government chemist also said the new facility once operational would be used in parental testing to resolve paternity disputes adding that adequate personnel would be deployed at the centre.
The centre is also expected to help much in addressing the concern on rising cases of cancer among members of the pastoralist communities by conducting scientific research and analysis on food stuffs for cancer causing elements including aflatoxin.
“The lab would also strive to safeguard human health by helping agencies like KEBS to ensure goods retailing in the market are not posing any threat to the consumer,” said Gakweli adding that animal products like meat and camel milk required analysis to ensure they are fit for human consumption.
Rotich welcomed the decision to establish a branch of the government chemist department in Marsabit saying it would not only make service delivery effective but greatly reduce the cost of accessing the same.
The County Commissioner said that it was the government’s policy to take services closer to the people as much as possible adding that the logistics required on the ground for the establishment of the facility have been worked out.
Also in the team was the head of the scientific research division at the government chemist department John Mungai.
By Sebastian Miriti