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SEKEB heads hold the first post-election meeting

The three Ukambani Governors, Julius Malombe (Kitui), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) and Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) held an inaugural post-election meeting of the South-Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB) in Machakos.

While addressing the press at Machakos County Governor’s office, Kitui County Governor Julius Malombe said that their top agenda is to work together to pursue social and economic development.

“This is an important milestone for Ukambani as the three governors will work together, the three counties have similar interests, challenges and opportunities, these are things we want to tackle together,” said Malombe.

Malombe noted that since the formation of SEKEB in 2013, it has achieved various accomplishments and thanked their predecessors for establishing the union.

According to him, SEKEB succeeded in lobbying for privatization and funding of Konza City by the national government.

SEKEB also assisted in the compensation of land to persons whose land was utilized in the construction of the Thwake dam.

Malombe added that the union is looking forward to benefiting from the green climate fund whose role is to fund climate smart and green projects such as energy and biogas.

He further noted that other than investing in solar energy, the three counties will continue to collaborate with the rural electrification and renewable energy and Kenya power lighting company.

This is to increase the last mile connectivity program across the three counties which will focus on connectivity to schools and health centers.

Makueni County Governor added that they are encouraging creativity and innovation among the youths and they will support them by offering free training in various courses and supporting them to start businesses which will be tax free as well as providing free internet in urban areas and training centers.

“We are in a digital era, we are going to lobby the national government to use the three counties as pilot to technology as a region, we want to access the fiber optic cable program which the national government has initiated,” said Mutula.

“The fiber optic cable passes through Machakos to Wote, Kitui and Mwingi. We can have hotspots in various areas where our youth can do their online jobs without paying for data,” he added.

Mutula further stated that they have developed a common approach towards maximizing food production in the region through climate smart agriculture.

He noted that climate change has highly affected rain fed agriculture and that they will work to adapt irrigated agriculture by heavily investing in sand dams, water pans and also take advantage of the 100 dams program announced by the national government.

The Governor said that other than maize and beans they have also started planting other food crops like green grams and millet which are favorable to the lower eastern climate to stop depending on food aids.

Mutula urged the national government to make use of provisions of the law and put restoration notice to industrialists who dump waste in rivers especially Nairobi and Athi Rivers since they are causing increased diseases which lead to high cost of health care.

“The national government needs to come up with a mechanism or a law that punishes everybody who destroys strategic investments, we should sentence to jail or close factories of people who are throwing effluents in the rivers,” said Mutula.

Machakos County Governor Wavinya Ndeti said that the county has set aside a budget to clean river Athi which if cleaned will benefit numerous residents in the county.

“The president came to Syokimau during the launch of affordable housing program and gave us his commitment to clean Nairobi River which pollutes River Athi. What we are requesting is to make sure that we are stakeholders in cleaning our Athi river section which has already affected Mwala River, noting it is covered by hyacinth,” said Ndeti.

Ndeti noted that they agreed to work together with the national government in the housing project and that the jobs available in the housing project including supply of building materials or labor will be given to the youths in the county.

She stated that they will assist the youth and women to form groups and cooperative societies and provide them with seedlings that best survive the region which the county and national government will later buy from them to empower them economically.

She further added that SEKEB will invest in building roads to link the three counties as well as other counties like the coastal region to boost businesses.

By Caroline Mutheu

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