Ward reps hold key to success of the Lake region economic bloc

Sunday April 15 2018

Lake Region Economic Bloc chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya says they have started the process of forming a regional bank and are hopeful that it will be in place by October this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Lake Region Economic Bloc chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya says they have started the process of forming a regional bank and are hopeful that it will be in place by October this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By DERICK LUVEGA
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Ward reps could make or break the new Lake region economic bloc even as 14 member counties start the process of setting up operations of the group.

Head of bloc secretariat, Mr Abala Wanga, says Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) will be required to give life to the association launched on March 26. 

It should start business if a third of the 14 devolved units ratify the agreement that created it, which includes approving formation of the secretariat and terms of reference. Ward reps will be tasked with that duty.

They will also be required to pass similar laws to avoid contradictions, and allow seamless implementation of the projects identified by the bloc.

“County assemblies are very important here and so they must be involved in the process and also be made part of the bloc through an instrument called County Assembly Caucus,” he said.

“They will be looked upon to approve many of the activities we are undertaking to turn around the region,” said Mr Wanga. 

The group covers counties in Nyanza, western and parts of the Rift Valley with a population of 14 million people. 

Member are Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori, Nandi, Bomet and Kericho.

The 42-member County Assembly Caucus, Economic Caucus, committees on infrastructure, tourism, trade and health as well as establishment of five saccos require the nod by the 14 assemblies before they become operational. 

A meeting, which had been planned for Monday April 16 to inaugurate County Assembly Causes that will consist of 42 members, has been pushed to May 4 to pave the way for counties to plan for the Devolution Conference to be held in Kakamega later this month. 

The assembly caucus will comprise of 14 Majority Leaders and an equal number of chairmen of Budget Committees and majority whips. This will install MCAs at the heart of running the bloc that they will have ratified. 

Mr Wanga said funding of the secretariat and establishment of the regional bank will come from each member county, making it necessary to involve the legislative wing of the county governments.

“Each county is expected to give out Sh200 million towards the bank that we will roll out in October as our flagship project,” said Mr Wanga.

“Each county government will also be required to give another Sh10 million every financial year to go towards the running of the secretariat. The assemblies are required to approve such spending,” added Mr Wanga.

“We want a 200 bed hotel in Kakamega forest,  improved airstrips,” Mr Wanga said.

“We have received good political will as well as outside attention. We are good to go.”