Chaos as Kericho MCAs throw out mace to protest airstrip project

Monday January 15 2018

ANITA CHEPKOECH
By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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A Kericho County Assembly sitting ended in disarray on Monday morning after its members clashed over the amendment of a supplementary budget to increase allocation for the upgrade of Kerenga Airstrip.

Some members who opposed the project claimed that the governor had paid off some of them to reinstate the initial Sh100 million for the airstrip, yet they had slashed the amount to Sh25 million in December 2017.

MACE

Trouble began after several anti-riot police made their way into the House, raising questions on who had dispatched them and their role at the chambers.

The officers were shown the door by the angry MCAs, who said the officers were not needed.

Soon after the police officers left and the House business began, some MCAs threw out the speaker’s mace signalling an indefinite end of the deliberations.

It is claimed that the opponents of the project sat strategically near the symbol of power. They grabbed it and made their way to the window, throwing it into the backyard of the assembly.

PRIORITY

Kapsoit MCA Paul Tarimbo, who has vehemently opposed the construction of the airstrip, accused the governor of bulldozing his way to force them to allocate a bigger budget for the project.

He said the airstrip was not a priority for residents.

"The Governor has been buying some people to get his way, but we will do all within our means to ensure that Kerenga Airstrip is not built using county resources," said Mr Tarimbo, the chairman of the Roads and Infrastructure Committee, after the chaos.

The House had a quorum of 40 MCAs, 30 of who Mr Tarimbo claims were against the project. He said the remaining 10 had been "compromised".

He said although MCAs opposing the project would still have had their way, the stalemate was meant to pass a strong message to the governor to "stop forcing his way on matters".

AIRSTRIP

The debate on whether the airstrip should be upgraded has divided local leaders even as Governor Paul Chepkwony insists on building it.

On December 18 last year, the House slashed the Sh100 million initial allocation in the supplementary budget, saying that the rest would be channelled to urgent projects such as water, roads and classrooms.

But the governor protested against the move in a memorandum, saying the amendments had been done against the law.

However, the House upheld their decision on December 29 last year, saying they were within the law.

The governor then wrote another memorandum seeking an increase in the allocation. But MCAs disagreed on the matter on Monday.

It is not clear when the next sitting would be scheduled.