Regional Development Principal Secretary (PS), Idris Salim Dokota Tuesday directed Regional Development Authorities (RDAs), to align their programmes with the government’s development agenda.
Mr Dokota, who is also in charge of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAls) function, said regional development authorities were special vehicles that could drive the government’s bottom-up agenda and urged them to strive to realise the same.
Speaking at a Malindi hotel during a retreat with managing directors of the six regional development authorities in the country, Mr Dokota said the priority programmes should be those that address the needs of wananchi at the grassroots.
Managing Directors of the six regional development authorities present included of Kerio Valley Development Authority, Coast Development Authority, Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority, Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority, the Lake Basin Development Authority and the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority.
The PS at the same time urged the chief executive officers to embrace each other and work in synergy with institutions under the ASALs function of the state department for the benefit of the region the RDAs serve.
“Since the two former state departments were joined together as one state department, it is important to bring these two functions together and come up with a formidable force,” he said adding, “We need to treat each other like equal members and this combination of synergy will help us achieve our objectives and the objectives of this government.”
Mr Dokota said he would strive to use RDAs as tools to develop the ASALs since RDAs have the infrastructure – land and water resources – which could be used to drive development in the ASALs in order to lift those that are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Noting that RDAs are the vehicles that drive the government’s bottom-up agenda, the PS said he would endeavour to strengthen them to achieve that cause.
He said he would work towards the full examination of policy, legal and institutional framework reforms required for the successful implementation of the government’s bottom-up development agenda.
“To this end, I will prioritize the enactment of the RDA policy that will amalgamate all statutes that formed RDAs and therefore make them vibrant and responsive to the needs of our times,” he said.
He said the identification, prioritization and formulation of priority policies, programmes and projects was critical in the realization of the government’s promises and vowed to endeavour to strengthen the resources as well as enhance the overall coordination, collaboration and implementation framework of the RDAs.
Mr Dokota noted with concern the bulging pending bills bedevilling RDAs, saying the bolls were putting pressure on the available resources, and appealed to the RDAs to develop ingenuous approaches in sorting out this issue.
He challenged the MDs to mobilise financial resources through the Public Private Partnership model of funding, partnerships and collaborations in order to stop over-relying on the Exchequer, which had in the recent past cut budgets for RDAs.
The PS, who was flanked by Dr Maina Kiondo, the acting Regional Development Secretary and Dr Wanjiku Manyatta, the acting Regional Development Director, also urged the managing directors to explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to ease the pressure of costs associated with numerous litigations against RDAs.
“It is absolutely necessary to ensure that litigations are avoided as much as possible. I therefore call upon you managers to explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and head to court as an option of last resort,” he said.
The RDA managing directors said lack of proper legislation anchoring the RDAs into law had hindered the organizations from discharging their mandates to their full capacity due to competition with county governments.
Led by Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority (ENSDA) Managing Director Ngala Oloitiptip and Coast Development Authority MD Mohamed Keinan, the managing directors called on the PS to fast track the enactment of the RDA Bill in order to stop the cold war between them and the devolved units
“Our competition with devolved units and considering that we are not yet anchored in the constitution leaves as in quicksand and that is where we really require your leadership,” Mr. Oloitiptip said and pledged the MDs’ support to realize the same.
Dr Keinan lamented that RDAs were suffering from human resource shortages, making it difficult for them to fully discharge their mandates.
He said RDAs had failed to attract highly qualified staff due to low salaries that had made many workers to leave the corporations for greener pastures.
“The RDAs salaries are not attractive and that makes us hire and within no time, we are left with vacancies as staff move to greener pastures.
By Emmanuel Masha