Ukambani counties get nod to form regional bloc

Monday, September 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Machakos county Assembly Speaker Florence Mwangangi addresses journalists, yesterday. Photo/PD/Gastone Valusi

Counties in Ukambani have received the green light to form a regional bloc after the Machakos Assembly ratified recommendations to set up a joint Assemblies Committee to facilitate establishment of the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB).

The three counties are Makueni, Machakos and Kitui.

Machakos Speaker Florence Mwangangi  said the idea of SEKEB goes back to 2014 when leaders  gave the proposal,  because it has benefits that would help elevate the people of the South Eastern Economic Bloc. 

“We had seen a report that was prepared in the first attempt and we felt it needed to be taken to fruition,” said Mwangangi. 

Mwangangi  added that a joint committee by the three counties, assisted by  offices of the three Speakers and relevant national government officials will kick off a process of putting in place a joint legislation for the same.  

 “The idea of the Economic Bloc is to pull resources together for the benefit of people,” noted Mwangangi. 

Speaker noted there are several investors, who have expressed interest in working  with SEKEB for the interest of the people so that they can explore their natural resources. 

Speaking at the weekend, Mwangangi said while there is coffee and avocado growing in Machakos, industries in Athi River, Kitui has coal, honey processing, textile centre and other resources that can be exploited for the benefit of Ukambani people and the entire country.

 Mwangangi further added that the first thing the block plans to do, is to put up a Cultural Centre at a point where the three counties join, which is in Wamunyu where Kitui, Makueni and Machakos get to join and call it a ‘No man’s Land’. 

“The Cultural Centre will attract tourism, as we showcase our culture and in return boost our economy,” she added. 

She said they will start on a draft legislation and have a public participation session to involve the people and give official members of SEKEB a period of one month to speak to the public and get their opinions on the matter.

Kathiani Ward Rep  Dominic Ndambuki lauded  the Speaker for initiating the second phase of talks and also for convening the first meeting of the three Speakers of Kitui, Makueni and Machakos for deliberating the issue. 

Feasibility study

Joint committee recommended SEKEB should conduct a feasibility study taking into consideration shared resources, interests and benefits for the region and undertake robust public participation.

In August 2020, governors Prof. Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui), held the first ordinary summit meeting of SEKEB in Machakos.

Top on the agenda of the meeting was development of modalities to enhance inter-county trade, identification of priority programmes and projects, marketing of the bloc as a key investment zone, infrastructure development to expand interconnectivity for ease of doing business and movement of people. 

The leaders agreed to establish a technical committee comprising Trade CECs as well as create a Cabinet portfolio from each county, to drive the SEKEB agenda. 

Governor Kibwana said the bloc is eyeing a Sh4 billion grant from the Global Climate Fund, which if approved, will fund several mega dams in the region, besides funding climate smart agricultural projects. 

Mutua said they had agreed to create a proper political environment that drives genuine development and rolling back the poverty ravaging the region. –KNA

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