This is in response to an article titled “Regional bloc faces crisis as summit records poor attendance,” which appeared in the Sunday Standard on January 19.
The article was erroneous and a misrepresentation of proceedings of the 5th Lake Region Economic Bloc, (LREB) summit meeting at Siaya KMTC grounds, from January 14 to 15. The writers allude to the desperation of the LREB technocrats racing against time to revive a dying entity. Secondly, that poor attendance had stalled key discussions which they qualify with presence of uncollected registration tags on the registration table. They also wrongly stated that only nine out of 14 counties had representation at the meeting and this affected discussions on the bloc’s flagship projects. This is quite vexatious to the subjects of the region.
Let me start by saying that of the existing seven county economic blocs in the country, LREB is the most vibrant. It has not only within the second phase of devolution managed to properly institutionalise within the proper framework of an intergovernmental organisation, but its process has greatly informed the draft National Policy on County Economic Blocs. Furthermore, flagship projects namely; development of a regional development bank, revival of maritime transport and associated services across Lake Victoria, conservation of shared natural resources, combating climate change and sugar sector revival are firmly on course.
The bloc not only successfully championed for payments to sugar cane farmers, but also steered the sugar sector revival taskforce whose report awaits unveiling by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Member counties have budgeted their share capital contribution for development of the regional bank. Moreover, the LREB counties are working to put in place climate change governance frameworks at the counties and regional levels. These projects cannot be on course with a “dead institution in need of revival” as alluded by the writers of this article.
To qualify the assertion of a struggling LREB, the writers deliberately mislead the public saying only nine counties were represented at the summit. Notwithstanding the flagrant misrepresentation of an activity beamed live on KTN News the writers ignored the three counties (Kericho, Nandi and Trans Nzoia) represented by their deputy governors and Migori which sent an apology, besides not taking notice that Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok was present.
Another misrepresentation is the assertion that the bloc is still struggling with institutionalisation process. The irony is that while making this claim, the writers acknowledge that 10 member counties have already passed the LREB Bill 2018. How is this then presented as a credible challenge when the LREB executive agreement has a threshold of 1/3 member counties translating to 5 member counties passing the Bill for the bloc to be fully institutionalised?
Despite the summit programme having been widely shared at the venues, the writers chose to ignore it. For the record the 5th LREB summit meeting was organised in two parts: - Day 1 being pre–summit meeting and Day 2 being the actual summit meeting.
All these meetings took place with various resolutions being passed and which informed the overall summit resolutions. It is therefore mischievous for the writers to claim that the agenda for the second day stalled whereas the summit resolutions were read by the LREB chair and shared with all journalists present. Finally it’s unfortunate that the writers did not focus on the positive socio-economic development agenda of LREB. The LREB reaffirms its commitment to a better life for the people of the region.
- The writer is LREB Communication Director