A motion passed by the Kwale County Assembly to halt two multi-billion shillings projects initiated by the national government has elicited mixed reactions among local residents.
The motion passed two weeks ago is seeking to compel the national government to suspend plans to build the Sh.34billion Mwache Multi-Purpose Dam and a Sh.20 billion port in Shimoni.
Leader of Majority in the assembly Mr. Raia Mkungu who moved the motion claimed that the assembly has been sidelined, mainly on projects initiated by the national government in the region.
He argued that the projects in question must be suspended to give room for comprehensive consultations and approvals by the assembly.
“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,” claimed Mkungu.
Consequently, the fate of the two projects in Kinango and Msambweni Sub-counties now hangs in the balance, a situation that has drawn diverse reactions from local residents with some supporting the MCAs and others opposing their action.
Mr. Hamisi Ali, a Kinondo resident is one among those in support saying exhaustive consultations are necessary before undertaking any project.
“The move opens a new chapter in ensuring the rights of the ordinary people are not violated in the process of project implementation after a long time of sidelining them,” said Mr. Ali.
He said that MCAs should remain firm and resolute in their push for the protection of the interests and hopes of the people who voted for them.
“A time has come for our leaders to wake up and do away with the old system of being unduly influenced and swayed at the expense of the welfare of the electorate,” he added.
However, Ms. Binti Hamisi from Kinango, criticized the Assembly saying suspending the projects is wrong as it will deny locals many benefits including employment opportunities.
Ms. Hamisi added that the region’s economy stands to grow rapidly through the many projects being executed by both national and county governments.
“MCAs should be concerned more about the plight of the majority poor local residents who look up to those projects to improve their lot,” she said.
Residents interviewed said the dam project will solve the persistent water shortage in the county and boost food security through irrigated farming.
They said the MCAs should put the residents’ interests above everything else when making decisions on pertinent issues in the Assembly.
Another resident Mr. Musa Mazera said enhanced development will curb the rising number of organized criminal gangs comprising mainly jobless youth.
“The affected projects were to create many jobs for our youth who end up engaging in gangsterism and wasting away in drug dens and leaders should rethink their decision,” he said.
By Shaban Omar and James Muchai