Machakos County Assembly has ratified recommendations to set up a joint County Assemblies Committee of the three Ukambani counties of Machakos, Kitui and Makueni to facilitate establishment of the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB).
Machakos Speaker, Florence Mwangangi, speaking at the County Assembly, said the idea of SEKEB, goes back to 2014 where the leaders had an idea of forming an economic bloc for the people of Ukambani because it has benefits that will help and elevate the people of the South Eastern Economic Bloc.
“We had seen a Report that was prepared in the first attempt and we felt that it needed to be taken to fruition, so that the benefits we saw in the Report can be taken advantage of by Ukambani people,” said Mwangangi.
She added that they are adding a Joint committee by the three counties assisted by the office of the three speakers and the relevant offices of the National Government that will start a process of putting in place, a joint legislation that is going to assist the SEKEB.
“The idea of the Economic Bloc is to pull resources together for the benefit of people, who reside in this particular areas,” noted Mwangangi.
She noted there are several investors who have expressed interest in working together with SEKEB for the interest of the people so that they can explore their natural resources.
She said while there is coffee and avocado growing in Machakos, industries in Athi River, Kitui has coal, Honey processing, Kitui textile center and other resources that can be exploited for the benefit of Ukambani people and the whole country too.
Mwangangi further added that the first thing the block plans to do, is to put up a Cultural Centre at a point where the three counties join, which is in Wamunyu where Kitui, Makueni and Machakos get to join and call it a ‘No man’s Land’.
“The Cultural Center will attract tourism, as we showcase our culture and in return it will boost our economy,” added the Speaker.
She said they will start on a draft legislation and have a public participation session to involve the people and give the official members of SEKEB a period of one month to speak to the public and get their opinions on the matter.
Dominic Ndambuki MCA Kathiani thanked the Speaker, Florence M. Mwangangi for initiating the 2nd phase of talks of the three County Assemblies and also for convening the first meeting of the three Speakers of Kitui, Makueni and Machakos for discussions about SEKEB.
The joint committee recommended SEKEB should conduct a feasibility study taking into consideration, shared resources, interests and benefits for the region and undertake robust public participation.
Last year in August the three Ukambani Governors; Kivutha Kibwana, Alfred Mutua and Charity Ngilu, held the first ordinary summit meeting of the South-Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB) in Machakos.
Top on the agenda of the meeting was development of modalities to enhance Inter-county trade, identification of priority programs/projects of the bloc, marketing of the bloc as a key investment zone, infrastructure development to expand interconnectivity of the region for ease of doing business and movement of people.
The three leaders agreed to establish a technical Committee comprising trade CECs as well as create a cabinet portfolio from each county, to drive the agenda of the SEKEB bloc.
Governor Kibwana said the bloc is eyeing a Sh4 billion grant from the Global Climate Fund, which if approved will fund several mega dams in the region, besides funding climate smart agricultural projects.
Governor Mutua said the three counties have agreed to create the proper political environment that drives genuine development and rolling back the poverty ravaging the region.
By Ann Kangero