A row has erupted in Kisumu over an incident in which ODM leader Raila Odinga was heckled by a group of youths opposed to establishment of a project on land in Muhoroni sub-county.
A day after Governor Peter Anyang Nyong’o put up paid advertisements apologising over the incident, area Senator Fred Outa said he should take responsibility for the incident.
Mr Outa said the Prof Nyong’o-led government was to blame “for failing to sensitise residents over the proposed project and how they would be compensated”.
He said county officials working in Muhoroni could have warned of impending protests by the locals on Monday. During the protests, a handful of placard-waving youths opposed the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the 107-hectare land, saying they had not been consulted.
Nyong’o, area MP Onyango K’Oyoo, MCAs and elders have since apologised over the incident.
The governor claimed the incident was preplanned to embarrass Raila and his guests, who included Cabinet secretaries Peter Munya (Trade), James Macharia (Transport) and John Munyes (Petroleum and Mining).
Yesterday, Outa claimed the county authorities should be held liable for failing to carry out proper civic education on the importance of an industrial park.
“They should have, prior to the launch of SEZs, carried out proper civic education to let the residents understand SEZs are key to creation of wealth and jobs,” Outa said.
He was irked by a section of Ombeyi residents opposed to turning of the huge swathe of land that had remained fallow for decades into an industrial park.
While waving placards, some of the Ombeyi ward residents staged a protest against what they claimed was a forced takeover of land for SEZs.
They claimed the county government did not consult them even as the Deputy Governor Mathews Owili explained that the parcel in question had been procedurally acquired.
The land, they said, was ancestral and given to the Kisumu Municipal Council in the 1980s. They wanted compensation before the SEZ project could begin.
A search at the Ministry of Lands shows the land measuring 107 hectares is held in trust for the Sidho West community and is reserved for grazing.
Yesterday, Nyong’o lashed out at the critics of the project even as he came under fire from Kenyans on social media.
“Outa should not have skipped the event if he so values it. The government will engage with the residents to relook into loss of livelihood and investment in the land. The land belongs to the county government, which wants to transform it into productive use. Anybody who stands in the way of the project is an enemy of the people of Kisumu,” said Nyong’o’s director of press Alloys Ager.