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31 MCAs walk out on Oparanya during official opening address

By Nathan Ochunge | Feb 27th 2020 | 3 min read

Kakamega County Assembly opposition side during the official opening of the fourth of the second county assembly on February 25, 2020. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Minority party ward reps yesterday staged a walkout on governor Wycliffe Oparanya during the official opening of Kakamega County Assembly after Christmas recess.

The ward reps, drawn from ANC, Ford Kenya, Jubilee Party, and United Democratic Party refused to listen to Oparanya's address to the House, accusing his administration of misappropriating development funds and trying to gag them.

Led by Isukha South Ward rep Farouk Machanje, Walter Andati (Butsotso South) and Joab Mwamuto (Shieywe), they accused Oparanya's administration of allocating the troubled Mumias Sugar Company more money before accounting for some Sh200 million allocated the miller in 2014/2015 financial year.  

“We cannot be addressed by Oparanya unless his administration accounts for taxpayers’ money sunk into the ailing Mumias Sugar Company. When we ask for the whereabouts of this money, we are intimidated. We refuse to be gagged,” said Mr Machanje.

The Isukha South Ward rep said the governor had indicated in his speech when he handed over a sugar taskforce report to President Uhuru Kenyatta that he had set aside more money to support cane farming as part of Mumias' revival plans.

They accused Oparanya of trying to intimidate and gag ward reps who questioned how money allocated to the sugar miller was spent. 

The ward reps further accused the county administration of diverting a Sh100 million conditional grant given by the World Bank to the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital. They said this prompted the bank to slash the grant this year.

“This financial year, we have received Sh50 million instead of Sh100 million as a conditional grant to support health services since the previous grant was not used for the intended purpose. Bungoma has received Sh200 million in grants for prudently spending their previous allocation,” said Machanje.

According to the World Bank grant rules, the money granted should not be diverted from the intended purpose without the bank's approval. 

They also wanted Oparanya to explain why the construction of the Kakamega Tea Factory in Shinyalu has never kicked off even after the project was allocated to Sh40 million in the 2018/19 budget.

“We were shocked to be told during the supplementary budget that the money has been reduced to Sh10 million since the donor pulled out of the project. Where did Sh30 million go?" he said.

The war reps also claimed that Oparanya's administration diverted some Sh30 million allocated for water projects in all of the county's 60 wards in the 2018/19 financial year.

“The money was to be spent in the rehabilitation of springs within the wards, but we did not receive it. Now, the electorate is threatening to send us home for not giving them clean water,” said Mr Andati.

They also demanded to know what became of the cash allocated for power transformers in all wards and for the Governor's Cup tournament 

Also queried was the spending of some Sh37.5 million that the ward reps claimed was allocated for small and medium enterprises loans,

But Oparanya, in his address to the Assembly, dismissed the walk-out as a sideshow and maintained that his administration was committed to reviving the ailing Mumias Sugar Company.

“There are 1,000 cases against Mumias Sugar Company including one at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, but I am determined to see the company up and running. I will establish a county sugar fund to help in its revival,” said Oparanya.

He said the allocation of money to the health sector will be increased to ensure the county rolls out the Universal Health Coverage by the end of this year, saying a new referral hospital will be launched in three months’ time.

Mumias West and Shamakhubu Sub-county hospitals are also coming up.

Oparanya promised the Assembly that all homes in the region would get access to piped water and electricity by 2020.

The county's communications director, Dickson Rayori, dismissed the ward rep's claims as "an attempt to gain cheap political mileage."

"Their claims were responded to by the county executive a long time ago. What they are bringing up are political sideshows," he said.

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