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BBI report proposes retention of the 47 counties

By Rawlings Otieno and Moses Nyamori | November 27th 2019
ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team has proposed the retention of the 47 counties and called on them to consider forming regional blocs.

This is a setback to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party which had proposed repealing of County Governments Act 2012, to be replaced with Devolved Governments Act and Regional Public Service Boards Act.

In its submissions to the task force, Raila Odinga’s party had proposed the introduction of 14 regional governments as per the Bomas Draft, and creation of regional assemblies comprising all members of county assemblies in each region.

A regional government has control on their specific small area and occurs when city and counties merge to form a single regional government.

Raila had said Kenya should retain the current counties but establish 14 regional or provincial blocs as units of disbursement of resources and the national government.

“The Bomas Draft divided Kenya into 14 regions, it is time to look at how to recover the original spirit. My proposal is we adopt a three-tier system ,” Raila told a devolution conference in Kakamega last year.

However, county chiefs opposed Raila’s proposal of a three-tier government, arguing that creating another layer of representation in the form of regional bosses would increase bureaucracy and burden Kenyans even more.

At the time, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi argued the government should focus on strengthening the existing economic blocs instead of creating another political layer.

The report submitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader leader Raila Odinga, proposes that representation and legislation should be undertaken in larger regional blocks.

“Retain all the 47 counties but encourage and assist counties to form voluntary regional economic blocs,” reads part of the report.

The team suggested that depending on further consultation with Kenyans, there should be a consideration that while citizens are strong supporters of devolution and their counties, they also want better value for money and more money to be used for development as opposed to high recurrent and administrative costs.

“Perhaps there is a way that the 47 counties can be maintained as the focus of development implementation and the provision of services, while representation and legislation are undertaken in larger regional blocs.”

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