Turkana ready to host Senate sittings in September, officials say

 Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye during the Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association retreat at the Serena Beach Resort & Spa, Mombasa on June 9, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The county government of Turkana is ready to stage the Senate plenary and committee sittings slated for September 25-29.

A team, led by Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye visited the county assembly in Lodwar where the sittings will be held and reported that it is satisfied with the preparations.

The sittings in Turkana are part of ongoing efforts by the upper House to enhance its working relationship with counties and interaction with the people at the grassroots in an initiative dubbed Senate Mashinani.  

Senate Majority Whip Boni Khalwale, in a motion presented before the house two months ago, said the decision to have the sittings in Turkana is a means of bringing the Senate closer to the counties and the general public at large.

Khalwale noted the critical role the Senate plays as a link between the national and county governments. He said the House is also determined to have some of its sittings outside Nairobi. Some such sittings were previously held in Uasin Gishu and Kitui counties in September 2018 and September 2019, respectively.

“This decision is in acknowledgement of the recommendation of the Senate Business Committee that a sitting of the Senate is held away from the traditional premises in Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, during the term of the 13th Parliament,” said Khalwale.

And on Friday, August 4, 2023, Nyegenye said: “After inspecting the Turkana county assembly where the senators are expected to conduct their affairs, the Senate board of management is satisfied with the level of preparedness ahead of the plenary sittings.”

Senate Majority Whip and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale at the Parliament buildings in Nairobi on March 8, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

He said both the Senate and county assembly of Turkana have been working together to ensure the sittings are flawless.

The Nyegenye-led team said a total of 250 dignitaries, among them 67 senators and members of the technical team, are expected to attend the sittings in Lodwar.

"The Senate board is satisfied with the preparedness of the county to host the board. The sittings are not just symbolic but complete Senate sittings," Nyengenye said ahead of the third such sitting after Uasin Gishu and Kitui staged such sittings in the past.

After the Uasin Gishu and Kitui events, the sittings would be suspended in 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The meeting is a follow-up to the previous ones and we are excited that we shall pull off successful Senate Mashinani sittings," said Nyengenye.

The Senate sittings come at a time Turkana will be holding its annual Tourism and Cultural festival dubbed Tobongulore.

"The Senate sittings will provide an opportunity for the legislators to interact with the county assembly and the residents as well as see how devolution is working," said the clerk.

Turkana county assembly clerk Linus Lokawa said they are ready to host the Senate sittings.

Lokawa said a team from the local county assembly is working with representatives from the Senate to make accommodation arrangements for the lawmakers and the Senate staff.

"We are ready to host the Senate in September. We have also identified tourist attraction sites because we want them to enjoy their stay in Turkana," the Clerk said.