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Sh6b waste plant raises hopes of jobs for struggling residents

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Swedish VR Holding Limited Company President Victoria Rikede at the official commissioning of construction of energy from waste plant at Mung'ang'a in Mumias East on March 1, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The construction of a multi-billion-shilling waste-to-energy plant in Mumias East, Kakamega County has started a decade after it was initiated.

A delegation of top county officials led by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and a foreign investor presided over the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sh6 billion project expected to incinerate approximately 800 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day.

The event gives hope to a community that has been struggling to put food on the table since the collapse of Mumias Sugar Company.

Oparanya’s administration purchased the 15-acre piece of land when he was first elected governor in 2013. The parcel has been lying idle, dashing hopes of the project ever taking off.

Dickson Orata, whose home is close to the site said the groundbreaking ceremony has rekindled hope among the residents.

“We have suffered a lot since the collapse of Mumias rendered sugarcane farmers insolvent but we are happy the waste to energy plant will help residents generate some income,” said Orata.

“Our children, most of them graduates from different universities will be employed at the factory which will also create many other opportunities that could empower us economically.” 

Samuel Odong’o said they were reluctant at first to accept the project. “We were hesitant at first because we thought this village would be turned into a dumping site, but after public participation sessions, people started appreciating the value of the plant and we are happy things are progressing well.”

He said residents will earn money by delivering solid waste to the factory. “It could not have come at a better time.”

According to Governor Oparanya, construction will be completed in the next nine months.

“The firm contracted to construct the factory has already acquired a clearance license from the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and given the green light by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) after seven years of engagement,” said the governor.

The county chief disclosed that the license was released following intervention by President Uhuru Kenyatta during devolution conference in Kirinyaga in 2019.

He said the energy from the waste plant would transform and revolutionise the county’s approach to dealing with waste, besides creating employment opportunities.

“Management of solid waste remains a major public health and environmental concern in our county which has over 2 million people, but with the establishment of this plant expected to combust waste to produce electricity and clean energy, we shall overcome the challenges,” said Oparanya.

“It is projected that the plant will create at least 1,000 new jobs for our people, in our 25-year lease agreement, the county government will remain the custodian of the land and locals will be given first priority in regard to employment.”

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