Governor Amason Kingi has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to hand over the multi-billion shillings Galana-Kulalu irrigation project to Kilifi and Tana River counties.
Mr Kingi said if handed over to the counties, they will in five months produce food from the one million acres irrigation scheme and feed the entire country.
“Since agriculture is devolved, our plea to the President is that the project should be handed over to the two and in the few months we will show you the results. We will feed the entire country and our neighbours. If we fail, then the national government should take the project back,” said Mr Kingi.
His calls came as parts of the country including Coast counties are faced with starvation due to a biting drought.
The government had earlier said that about 165,000 people from Tana River, Kilifi and Kwale are among those affected.
Mr Kingi said parts of the country are starving because the project is in the hands of corrupt individuals who “keep on lying to the President”.
“Our people are dying of hunger because the project collapsed. We will continue to suffer if the project is left in the hands of the corrupt people who lie to the President. Those who are involved in corrupt [deals in] the project are the same people who go to misadvise the President,” added Mr Kingi.
The governor said corruption is the only reason that the project has collapsed and unless this is dealt with, it will not be salvaged.
He said together with his Tana River counterpart Dhadho Godhana, they have engaged the company working on the project, “which told us that if we end corruption, then the project will move on and in three months we will have produce”.
“Tana River governor and I have shifted our focus to the Galana-Kulalu project. We spoke to the company officials and we have plans to visit Israel and have the project realised,” he added.
He reiterated that corruption has been the only stumbling block for the project that has put the Jubilee administration on the receiving end.
“President Kenyatta has now been at the forefront fighting corruption but he cannot do it alone, we have to support him. Kenyans are saying that the President is not serious in his fight against corruption, but I want to tell you, whatever efforts that the President will put in to deal with corruption he will not win until we support him,” said Mr Kingi.
Galana-Kulalu is among the national government’s flagship projects and it traverses Kilifi and Tana River counties.
A feasibility study located 1.2 million acres of arable land in Tana River and Kilifi counties, of which the government planned to use one million acres. It was established that a dam with water harvested from River Galana would be sufficient to irrigate 400,000 acres.
From the studies, it was proposed that a model farm be built on one percent of the one million acres, translating to 10,000 acres.
This project was given to Green Arava on September 11, 2015 at an initial cost of Sh14.5 billion.