Kisii Governor James Ongwae is now seeking senators’ help to get land for establishment of a multi-billion shilling sugar factory.
The governor appeared before the Senate Committee on Land Environment and Natural Resources Committee, where he appealed to the House to approve excising of 120 acres of Nyangweta Forest to allow for setting up of the project.
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Mr Ongwae, who was defending a petition he has lodged before the Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi-led committee about the proposed sugar factory, argued that it would go a long way in changing economic prospects of the region.
The county chief said once complete apart from sugar the factory, which will have a capacity to crush 5,000 tonnes of cane a day, it will produce 10 megawatts of power to the national grid and ethanol.
“We appeal to the Senate to allow us take part of the forest that is at the centre of the sugar belt to accommodate the sugar factory. Due to population pressure and diminishing land sizes in Kisii it has been impossible to get land for this investment,” said the governor on Thursday.
The senators at the session heard that an Indian investor, Kanoria Group, has already registered Kisii Renewable Energy and Sugar Factory Company Limited and will invest Sh5 billion to build the sugar factory.
“The move to excise the forest land is the last resort,” added Ongwae, who said his administration has come up with remedial measures to ensure the ecosystem is conserved.
He said his government has identified 13 parcels of land in different parts of the region, totaling up to 461 hectares which they want to trade in with the Nyangweta forest land.
“We have offered the land, which belongs to the county government to the Kenya Forest Service for gazzetment and use, since as an administration we care about the ecosystem,” said the governor.
Senator Sam Ongeri (Kisii), who attended the sitting as friend of the committee, supported Governor Ongwae’s petition.
“The sugar complex project has the potential of changing the economic fortunes of the region,” he said. The committee chairman said he has invited Environment CS Keriako Tobiko and his Agriculture counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri to appear before the House team next Thursday to give their view on the matter.