Kakamega County sets aside Sh100 Million for calamities

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa and his Deputy Ayub Savula during Mashujaa celebrations at on October 20, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega county government has set aside Sh100 million for emergencies including perennial accidents in gold mines.

Governor Fernandes Barasa said the allocation will cushion residents against all emergencies other than the expected El-Nino rains.

"As a county, we have earmarked Sh100 million for disaster management whether predicted El-Nino rains will be there or not, we would like to cushion our people, especially artisanal miners against accidents that occur in the mines," he said.

He said the county was prone to mudslides and related accidents during heavy rains. "It is better to put in place measures to prevent such eventualities instead of dealing with devastating effects," he said.

Mr Barasa said his administration has made arrangements to prevent calamities. "We have the personnel and adequate equipment, so far, we have intensified surveillance in areas prone to disasters including Kuvasali hills in Kakamega North as well as Ikolomani and Rosterman where artisanal miners have died in the past."

The governor said he has instructed the Ministry of Disaster Management and Preparedness to fast-track resettling people who live near River Nzoia in Navakholo and Mumias West.

"I have instructed the ministry concerned in collaboration with the national government to oversee the resettlement of residents to higher grounds," he said Barasa.

Shinyalu mining committee chairman Samwel Njomo said the occurrence of heavy rains and lack of proper mining materials like oxygen cylinders expose miners to dangers.

"We have engaged both national and county governments to streamline the sector but it appears we have been abandoned and the artisanal miners are on their own," claimed Njomo.

He took issue with the two levels of government for ignoring their plight and only demanding taxes from them.

"What we only see is the government's running after miners and gold mine sites to pay taxes and royalties out of the venture without investing into the sector," he said.

According to him artisanal miners require recommended tools of trade, training, and proper laws regulating mining to restore order and sanity in the sector.

Njomo said most of the gold mines are not above board and their safety is wanting especially during rainy seasons.

"How do you expect miners to improve the safety of gold mines when the sector is unregulated," posed Njomo.

"The government ordered owners of golf mines to build their mines to a certain standard but there was no follow-up, we have people digging gold mines beyond 100 metres, most of the walls are weak and the rains make things worse," he said.

Western Region Police Commander Kiprono Langat has urged residents living along rivers and dangerous places to move to safer places stating they have kicked off relocation plans.

"What we are advocating for is awareness and we have already kicked off the process of ensuring those people living in areas prone to El-Nino such as Budalangi in Busia and Navakholo in Kakamega to move to safe areas," said Langat.