BUNGOMA COUNTY. Residents of Brigadier area in Tongaren constituency have vowed not to vote for Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka in next year’s general elections after he failed to deliver a maize milling plant that he promised to put up in the area.
Speaking to the Weekly Western Chronicle at Brigadier market, the residents said that two years down the line after the governor unveiled the land on which the miller was to be constructed and the contractor to deliver the plant, nothing has taken place on the ten-acre land so far.
“The whole thing was a lie because what they did was just to demolish people’s structures and houses to level the ground and displace people but up to now nothing has been constructed on that piece of land,” said Kassim Juma a resident of Soysambu ward.
They claimed that since the launching of the project in April 2014, the Chinese investors whom the governor introduced to be behind the putting up of the maize mill are only seen loitering in the area doing nothing on the site yet the residents had been promised that by the end of that year 2014 the plant was expected to be operational hence farmers start selling their maize there but so far nothing has happened.
“The governor himself was here with his Chinese people and assured us that the plant was expected to be operational by the end of that year promising that our maize that we were to harvest that year would not be sold anywhere else other than in that milling plant but now there is nothing to show two years down the line,” added Juma.
Lusaka to follow others who reneged on political promises
The residents told the WWC that they are ready to sent governor Lusaka parking during the next general elections in August 2017 bearing in mind that there are other leaders in the history of the politics of Bungoma county who were forced to go home through polls due to failure to deliver their political promises hence Luaka shall not be an exception.
“The late Elijah Mwangale, the former minister Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi and other leaders from this region were sent home due to such falsehoods like the ones our governor is using on us and therefore in 2017 elections on August 8th the governor shall be back at his home in Mapera early enough so that we can get a better leader who will consider the plight and suffering of his or her people,”said another resident of Brigadier.
They noted that the governor sought to gain political mileage out of the milling plant but warned that they can no longer be fooled through launching of projects that never take off and thus he should be ready to be voted out come 2017 elections.
No compensation by county government
The residents further said that the county government has never compensated the people it evicted from the land earmarked for the milling plant and even some churches that were also victims of the eviction from the land that was initially owned by the defunct Bungoma County Council despite promising to compensate them.
They claimed that during the era of the county council some of the evictees had been allocated plots on that land and had put up different structures of business ventures hence the county was expected to compensate them after it allocated the land to the Chinese investor.
“The people whose plots were taken by the county for the construction of the Maize Mill were promised to be compensated by the county government but to date, nothing has been done to that effect even after demolishing houses, shops and even churches,” said Patricia Namalwa a resident of Brigadier.
Chinese investor yet to be given lease, hold agreement by county
When the WWC talked to the Chinese investor a Dr. Bai Yuehuwa, he raised a number of challenges that have hindered him from putting up the plant among them the leasehold agreement from the county government of Bungoma.
The investor’s claim put another twist in the turn of events surrounding the Milling plant bearing in mind that he has been on the site for over two years in preparation to start the maize mill that was as a result of prior agreements and memorandum of understanding between him and the county government.
He said that he had not been given the leasehold agreement and the assurance of the land before he can start investing in among other challenges.
But when we talked to the chief officer in the department of trade at the county government of Bungoma Christine Wasike, she admitted that it was indeed true that the investor had not been given the leasehold but said that it was ready for him to collect and take off with the construction of the plant.
However, she said that even before being given the leasehold, the investor had been given other documents which she termed authoritative enough to allow him to start putting up the plant without any fear.
“We have prepared the lease is ready now for the investor to collect or we will even take it to him but I don’t think that should have been one of the main reasons of him delaying to construct the milling plant because we have already given him authoritative letters and other documents that give him the authority to start construction on that piece of land,” said Wasike.
Dr. Bai had also mentioned the issue of the poor road network in the area and the lack of sufficient supply of electricity that can run the milling plant but the chief officer said that the county government had moved in handy to address such issues to ensure that the investor gets a conducive environment to start his work.
She noted that after the investor raised the issue of power supply, she and other officers from the county took the initiative to raise the Kenya Power officers whom she said toured the site and discussed with the investor on the modalities of upgrading the power supply hence that matter was no longer in the hands of the county government.
On the issue of the road, she said that the county government as earlier promised had initiated the tarmacking of the Misikhu-Brigadier road that is one of the main roads linking the proposed milling plant at Brigadier and other trading centres including Naitiri, Soysambu among others.
However, despite the challenges and delays that have raised concern among the residents, Wasike urged the residents of Tongaren and the entire county of Bungoma to be patient as the county government continues to push the investor to put up the plant as promised.
“What I would like the people of Brigadier and the entire Bungoma County to embrace is patience and tolerance so that we also take time to push the investor and make him know the need and urgency of having the plant operational and how the governor’s political ambitions may be affected in any eventuality of not delivering the maize mill.
Contract on a BOT basis
The chief officer revealed that the terms of the agreement between the county government of Bungoma is on a BOT ( Build, Operate and Transfer) basis on a lease of eight years.
She said that the only contribution that the county government was supposed to offer under the agreement was land of which the investor builds projects on the land, operate them and then later hand over to the county government after the terms of leaseholds have expired.
Therefore the chief officer pointed out that the county government does not have much to do to the investor during the period of the leasehold which in this case is a period of 8 years.
“Under a BOT agreement we as the county do not have much that we can do to see the investor deliver the project within the time that we expect it to be delivered because it is now upon him to put up the plant and later on transfer it to the county government,” she said.
At the same time, Wasike said that it seems the investor is having issues with the funding of the project from his home government of China hence it might be one of the reasons as to why he has taken this long without doing much on the site.
Despite the assurance by Dr. Bai that once he gets hold of the leasehold then in one week’s time the construction process shall commence and despite the county government promises that it will push hard to have the investor deliver the plant, it might still take long for the people of Brigadier and other parts of the county to enjoy the services of a Milling plant in their midst.