Some Kwale residents are questioning persistent huge county cash allocations to the same projects at the expense of others that equally deserve funding.
The issue sparked a heated debate at a public participation forum for Tsimba-Golini Ward with residents faulting the allocation of over Sh21million towards the construction of four Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centres in the area.
They termed the budget as excessive and superfluous saying the trend had led to neglecting other projects which are equally important to them.
The residents put to task the County Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee demanding an explanation as to why colossal sums of money were allocated to some of the proposed projects in the current financial year.
Committee members led by the chairman Mr. Manza Beja and senior officials from the Governor’s office had a difficult time trying to calm down and address the irritated residents attending the forum at the Kwale Cultural Centre.
The proposed nursery schools include Magombani, Mteza, Dima and Chirimani, with each getting Sh 5, 300, 000.
“It is unfair to allocate this kind of money just to build a nursery school. I think we need more details on this,” one agitated resident from Mazumalume, said wondering which type of materials will be used in the construction to justify such a huge expenditure.
“From what we know, the cost of a nursery school cannot amount to such a huge figure,” Mr. Makoma Ndegwa, added.
The residents called for equitable resource allocation across the wards, claiming that political strongholds of Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) have persistently been taking the lion’s share of the county development budget every financial year.
Mr. Beja said that the committee will see to it that whatever people are proposing gets included in the budgets.
He admitted that there are some places which had missed out on projects since devolution started citing Mazumalume as an example.
“If you look at the current list of proposed projects, many of them are now in Mazumalume because the area had previously been neglected,” he said.
He said they will make equitable distribution of resources a priority for the common good of all areas in the county.
“Priority will be given to areas that have disparities and marginalization because if projects are distributed in a skewed manner we might end up favoring specific places which are already highly developed,” said Beja.
Ms. Fatuma Tabwara, a political advisor to the Governor, said such forums are important in providing residents with an opportunity to boldly have a say in the allocation of resources.
“Residents are able to bring forth burning issues in these forums and that’s why we are here today. Everyone is free to share their views with us,” she said.
She however told the residents to engage constructively with the county government instead of resorting to blame games and ethnic talk.
“Fight for what you believe is right for the community and not according to which place you come from,” she added.
Nominated MCA and committee member Ms. Mishi Idd said the money will be spent on the construction of modern nursery schools hence the massive budget was justified.
By Shaban Omar and James Muchai