County bosses face daunting task of completing unfinished projects

Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa tours a new maternity wing at Malava sub-county Hospital on March 9, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Three governors in Western Kenya have embarked on the task of completing multi-million shillings projects started by their predecessors.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, his Busia counterpart Paul Otuoma and Kenneth Lusaka of Bungoma target to complete main projects that were initiated by former county chiefs but stalled along the way due to financial challenges, among other factors.

The governors believe it would make economic sense for them to complete the stalled projects instead of starting new ones.

So far, governor Barasa, the chairman of the Council of Governors Finance, Planning, and Economic Affairs Committee, has inspected most of the targeted projects initiated by former county boss Wycliffe Oparanya with a view of giving them a new lease of life.

In his five-year County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), Barasa's administration has earmarked billions of shillings for the stalled projects.

They include the multi-billion Kakamega Referral and Teaching facility, the Tumbeni milk processing plant in the Malava sub-county, and several health centres slated for a facelift, among others.

The Sh10 billion Level Six hospital is a mega project started six years ago by Oparanya, whose government initiated a process to hand over the facility to the national government due to financial constraints that forced the contractor on site to abandon the project midway.

Mr Barasa has been engaging the national government and private partners, with a view of completing, equipping, and internationalising the hospital for the benefit of residents of Kakamega and those from neighbouring counties.

The governor said he met President William Ruto and discussed mechanisms to complete the referral facility through Private Public Partnership, where the head of state committed to injecting Sh3bilion into the mega health facility.

"We agreed that the national government will help complete and equip the referral facility under a private partnership development model without necessarily having to surrender the project," said Barasa.

"The hospital has the potential to employ 5,000 people, and this is what we are looking up to in order to create jobs for our people besides benefiting medical students from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in terms of practical lessons and research," he said.

The multi-billion health project was one of the Oparanya mega projects launched in 2016, and its construction started in 2017.

On Monday, Barasa launched phase two of the Sh100 million Tumbeni Milk Processing, one of the key projects initiated by his predecessor.

Finish milk plant

"We want to empower our people through the available resources and projects, and that is why we have allocated Sh100 million in the next financial year to finish the milk plant so that we can uplift the living standards of our people and the economy of our county," said Barasa.

The governor also launched the fourth phase of the One Cow Initiative, a multi-million dairy farming project through which the county government gives out dairy in-calf heifers to residents.

Others are the Sh2.5 billion Bukhungu International Stadium, currently under construction, and the Amatsi Khumukuru water initiative geared towards expanding pipe water coverage across the county.

In Busia, governor Paul Otuoma has vowed to embark on the revival of the cotton industry, which was on its deathbed, the health sector, and improving the road network and infrastructural development at the border county.

Dr Otuoma said the cotton industry has the potential of creating 1,000 jobs and generating Sh12 million per year.
The first-time governor has also embarked on decongesting the busy Busia town, an initiative launched by his predecessor Sospeter Ojamoong.

Last week, Otuoma met Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Kipchumba Murkomen to lobby for the construction of Busia Customs - Korinda dual carriage road in order to ease congestion within Busia town and open up the county to investors.

Already KeNHA had committed to taking charge of the maintenance of key roads in Busia County and tarmacking of bypasses like Mundika- Siteko-Busia Stadium and Works-Angorom-Otimong primary school roads.

So far, Otuoma's administration has demolished stalls and kiosks in major towns across the county, with plans of expanding and decongesting them.

Governor Otuoma has also vowed to give Busia General Hospital and level four hospitals a major facelift.

In Bungoma, Governor Lusaka has embarked on streamlining the county scholarship programme to benefit needy cases.

Mr Lusaka has the daunting task of completing Musikoma - Kanduyi dual carriageway, a project initiated by former governor Wycliffe Wangamati.

Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka is tasked to complete projects inherited from the previous regime ranging from the health sector to roads.

Among these projects are the construction of a 60-bed capacity at the Bumula sub-county hospital that is being funded by the Kenya Devolution Support Programme.

The facility is 90 per cent done and sets to be completed soon.