State to hand over 25 museums, gazetted sites to counties

Culture and Heritage Principal Secretary Ummi Bashir. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The national government has started the process of handing over 25 museums and gazetted sites to counties as the process of transferring pending devolved functions gain momentum. 

Trans Nzoia Wednesday became the first county to have a museum transferred to it by the national government through the National Museums of Kenya with six other counties also identified for the exercise. 

Culture and Heritage Principal Secretary Ummi Bashir Wednesday revealed that a total of 25 museums, national monuments, and gazetted sites are set for transfer to county governments of Kisumu, Wajir, Isiolo, Narok, Garissa and Marsabit. 

The PS however clarified that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) heritage sites such as Fort Jesus would not be affected by the transfer of devolved functions. 

“The government has officially transferred the museum of Trans Nzoia that sits on 33 hectares of land, and we are implementing what is stated in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution,” said Bashir who was speaking during the handover ceremony in Nairobi. 

“This is something that should have been done a long time ago but we are moving one step at a time to ensure that the handover is done across all the remaining six counties,” she added.  

The transfer of museums comes amidst an ongoing validation of pending devolved functions in Naivasha where the governors, Principal Secretaries and the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) are meeting. 

President William Ruto had given the parties a 60-day deadline that lapses at the end of this month to have concluded the transfer of all pending devolved functions and determine the value of their accompanying resources. 

Bashir yesterday noted that her ministry, in conjunction with that of Devolution was still evaluating the resources to be transferred alongside the museum but intimated that the national government had set July 1, 2024, as the deadline for resources to have followed the transferred functions. 

She added that last year, the national government transferred 61 libraries to various county governments with an accompanying budget of Sh450 million which was captured in the current 2023/2024 financial year. 

“We have until July this year to ensure the resources required to run the museums are availed. We are headed in the right direction with regards to this process and we are confident that the counties are capable of running the museums and libraries," she said. 

Devolution Principal Secretary Teresia Mbaika said that the handover of the museums was a testament to the commitment by both levels of government to ensure the seamless transfer of all pending functions per the law. 

Mbaika further noted that the undertaking by Trans Nzoia County was evidence of its preparedness to receive and run the functions. 

“The government has committed to ensuring that the transfer of functions will not only apply to museums but to all remaining functions that are still being validated by both levels of government through IGRTC,” she said. 

“The process to transfer devolution assets is on course and we are confident that we will meet the set deadline," the PS said.

IGRTC chairperson Kithinji Kiragu said the national government has committed to gazette all remaining validated devolved functions before March.

He explained that the state agency had identified 12 sectors where devolved functions were still being performed by the national government through the ministries and departments. 

They include health, energy, trade, education, regional development authorities, tourism, wildlife and culture, agriculture, health, lands, public works, housing and urban development, education, and environment and disaster management.

“We are committed to seeing this transfer of functions concluded. We urge other ministries, departments and agencies to follow the example set by the State Department for Culture, Heritage and Arts,” stated Kithinji. 

Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya expressed readiness to work with the national government to ensure the expedient transfer of the human resources and financial budgets to run the museum.