Why Finance Bill 2024 is bitter pill for Coast residents

Coast leaders led by Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako (centre)speak at the Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, August 24, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Coast leaders have criticised the decision by the National Assembly to defend stalled projects in the region, saying President William Ruto had promised to include them in the 2024/2023 Finance Bill.

They told the National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee that stalled water, roads, electricity, health, and education projects have not been allocated funds for completion.

Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako said the Mzima water project would benefit Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

Ruto promised to factor the Sh30 billion Mzima II water pipeline project into the 2024/25 budget and ensure the 50-50 per cent sharing of revenue from Tsavo National Park with Taita Taveta County.

Other planned road projects include the Sh2.2 billion Bura-Mgange-Werugha-Wundanyi-Mbale-Msau-Mto-wamwagodi road, which passes through Wundanyi and Mwatate, and the Sh6 billion Taveta-Njukini-Elasit- Loitokitok road.

Mwashako said leaders used the projects to gain political mileage in the 2022 electioneering period and have now reneged on their promises.

He noted that the contractor of the Bura-Mgange-Werugha-Wundanyi-Mbale-Msau-Mto-Wamwagodi road deserted the construction site after the government failed to pay him Sh331 million.

The MP said they were wondering why the government has allocated only Sh78 million for the road project in this year’s financial budget, terming it a drop in the ocean.

"We are wondering why the government has only allocated Sh78 million while the contractor is demanding to be paid his Sh331 million to resume work. The problem is that the government does not listen and has to be pushed. The National Treasury removed Sh500 million set aside for the roads project,” Mwashako told the meeting.

Taita Taveta Woman Rep Lydia Haika demanded funding for Mzima II, the biggest water project in the Coast region that serves five counties and more than 1.5 million residents.

Haika appealed to the government to rescind the decision to scrap the Linda Mama, Edu Afya, school feeding programme saying they helped to reduce the mortality rate and improve education standards.

“These programmes should be reinstated for the benefit of Kenyan women and students. School capitation should also be enhanced in this year’s budget,” she said.

The Women Rep urged the government to set aside funds to pay village elders and the elderly stipend for social protection, fencing of Tsavo, expanding electricity projects, and construction of dams.

ACK pastor Rev Raphael Mwalukuku said schools were facing infrastructural challenges which should be urgently addressed.

Mwalukuku regretted that the poor road network in the region had affected food production and urged the government to address the same and construct markets.

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers official Edwin Nyabuto urged the government to allocate resources to employ 46,000 Junior Secondary School teachers.

JSS teachers have been holding protests countrywide demanding permanent and pensionable employment terms, promotions, and hardship allowance.

“Schools have reopened, but we have no funds in our bank accounts. Projects have stalled, and contractors have deserted construction sites,” said Taita sub county Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association chairperson Gibson Mwaluma.

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