The County Assembly has unanimously passed a motion suspending two multibillion projects funded by the national government and development partners.
The affected projects include the Mwache Multipurpose Dam funded jointly by the government and the World Bank at a cost of Sh. 34billion, and the Sh.20billion Shimoni Integrated Port Programme.
The Majority Leader, Raia Mkungu who sponsored the motion said the projects were started without approval of the County Assembly and must be suspended until that requirement was duly met.
Mkungu who is also the Ramisi Ward Rep said the due process of consultations between the two levels of government was not followed in initiating the two projects in accordance with Constitution.
“This motion urges the Assembly to resolve that any programmes of the intended projects be immediately suspended until the necessary consultations and approvals are given by the House as required under the Constitution,” he said.
Mkungu claimed that the Assembly has been sidelined in projects undertaken by the national government, a trend that must stop forthwith.
He said the projects must be suspended for local leaders to discuss them with a view to establishing how locals were to benefit.
“The Assembly has been kept in the dark on projects which are seemingly undertaken behind a veil of secrecy by some individuals who have vested interests at the expense of locals,” he claimed.
He said most of the national government projects have not been approved by the County Assembly which is in breach of constitutional provisions for public participation.
“The law demands that any exploitation of county resources and development of infrastructure in counties be done with approval of the Assembly,” he added.
The motion came at a time concerns have already been raised over the issue of compensation to families that will be displaced particularly by the dam whose construction is expected to begin next year in Kasemeni Ward, Kinango Sub-county.
The ward representatives said they would not give room to the tendency to impose projects on locals whose right to have a say on them must be respected at all time.
The motion which was seconded by Mwereni Ward Rep, Mr. Manza Benja is likely to derail the implementation of the two key projects.
Mkungu said the county government was shortchanged in an agreement the national government signed with an Australian mining firm, Base Titanium, and would not like to see a repeat of the same mistake in other national projects.
He claimed that the county does not fully benefit from the mining firm’s activities hence their decision to suspend the two projects until proper public participation was carried out.
“We don’t clearly know who is funding these projects, or what the compensation terms are for the locals affected. They have to stop any activities concerning the project or else we will take to the streets in protests,” said Mr. Benja.
The MCAs faulted Governor Salim Mvurya for being reluctant in fighting for the rights of Kwale people and asked him to be firm in making sure projects benefited the locals.
Mkungu said the National Bureau of Statistics ranked Kwale amongst the poorest counties yet it was rich in natural resources which hardly benefited locals.
By Shaban Omar/James Muchai