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Government pledges to distribute mining royalties to counties

The government is finalising the regulations to guide on sharing of mineral royalties in a move that will allow county governments and communities living in mining areas receive their share of royalties from mineral resources.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said the Mining Act 2016 directed that revenue from minerals was to be shared between the national government, the county government and community living in the mining areas with each getting 70, 20 and ten percent respectively.

The CS disclosed that the ministry was working on a few grey areas in the Act which would open up the process of distributing the royalties to the community.

Mvurya was speaking at Tausa village in Voi Sub-County during the launch of a food-donation exercise for over 150,000 residents affected by the drought in the region.

“My team is finalising a few grey areas in the Mining Act. The regulations will be taken to parliament and once adopted, the communities will start receiving their rightful share of revenues from minerals,” said the CS.

He said that while absence of enabling regulations were to blame for the communities missing out on the revenue sharing in the past, the counties should have received their share without any delays. He promised to ensure counties received royalties owed to them as dictated by law.

Mvurya further added that the government had mapped out the mineral resources in the country in a move that will allow for strategic investments in the sector.

Noting that the region was endowed with massive mineral resources, the CS stated that the potential once fully tapped would eradicate poverty for artisanal miners. He pledged to conduct a tour in the region in support of the sector while officially commissioning the multi-million gemology and value-addition centre in Voi town.

Taita Taveta County is a mining powerhouse with hundreds of gemstones mines being scattered across the sub-counties of Mwatate and Voi sub-counties. There are also large-scale mining activities in Kishushe where iron ore is extracted for export. In the Mrabenyi area, an investor is engaging in manganese.

Despite such activities, the county has not been getting adequate revenue; a situation blamed on retention of royalty by the national government.

“The situation is going to change. The counties and communities will get their share,” said the CS.

The CS further said that the government was committed to ensuring the county benefited from the multi-billion Mzima 2 water project.

He stated that though the project was meant to boost the water availability for county residents, that dream had not been actualised owing to vested interests in the past.

Mvurya said the government would guarantee the project served the region before it was extended to other counties.

Other leaders present during the event include Governor Andrew Mwadime, County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara, MPs Abdi Chome of Voi, Danson Mwashako of Wundanyi, Women Representative Lydia Haika and Peter Shake for Mwatate MP.

During the exercise, the CS flagged off 1,200 bags of rice and 480 bags of beans for thousands of vulnerable families in Voi Sub-County. The other sub-counties of Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta will each receive similar quantities.

This is the second food distributing exercise in the county within a period of one month. In October, the county received and distributed 1600 bags of rice and 640 bags of beans as food aid to alleviate hunger at household level.

Kenya Red Cross Society has also identified 4,000 households that will be supported with food as more donors pledged to support school-feeding programs for learners in institutions severely affected by drought.

The leaders present urged the government to act on the issues of human-wildlife conflict to allow farmers engage in productive farming as part of fighting hunger and malnutrition in the region.

By Wagema Mwangi

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