Dominion under fire as Siaya talks held today

A tractor ploughs land in preparation for the planting season at Dominion Farms in Siaya on February 28
A tractor ploughs land in preparation for the planting season at Dominion Farms in Siaya on February 28

Tension is high ahead of today’s public hearing of Dominion sugar plantation and milling project at Yala wetland.

Some of the Siaya county leaders have opposed the project.

The meeting at Raturo chief’s camp will also be attended by National Environment Management Authority officials.

Former Alego-Usonga MP Sammy Weya and Boro West MCA Leonard Oriaro don’t approve of Dominion’s sugar project.

Weya said Dominion has abdicated its primary role of planting rice.

He said it secretly plants sugarcane without following procedure, and not conducting impact assessment tests.

Weya accused the farm managers of using unapproved sprays on the crops and allowing chemical waste into Lake Kanyaboli, killing fish.

“The water level in Lake Kanyaboli has drastically declined, as well as the rare fish species population,” Weya said.

He said the leaders will not allow Dominion to proceed with the project.

Weya said Dominion, which is supposed to contribute huge revenue to the county government, has instead been remitting Sh150 per acre.

Those investing in the swamp are charged Sh1,500, he said.

Efforts to contact Dominion director Chris Abir were futile as his phone went unanswered and SMSs sent to his cell were phone not replied to.

Weya said instead of Dominion engaging in the sugar project, it should leave the remaining 24 acres to contract outgrowers.

Oriaro said the venue of the meeting is not central since those directly affected come from far-off places.

The MCA said the commissioner’s office is working with Dominion to have locals approve the project, to the chagrin of the suffering public around Yala swamp.

Oriaro said they have written a letter to the Nema director general and county commissioner, opposing the project.

Earlier, Abir agreed to an interview with the Star, promising to present the agreement the farm and the county government signed to dispel the notion that they are duping the locals.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said he is not opposed to additional sugarcane investors as long as the relevant agencies approve.

“We can even have three sugarcane factories in the swamp as long as the experts approve it,” Rasanga said on Sunday during a service at Siaya ACK.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo is among leaders who have openly opposed the project.

Sources told the Star powerful politicians from the region have vested interests in the sugarcane project, hence the stalemate.

Nominated MP Oburu Oginga said Dominion should put in place a strategy to smoothly implement the agreement.

Oburu was among leaders who invited Dominion to Yala.

He asked local leaders and the public not to politicise the project.

The former Bondo MP said closing away the American investor will scare away thousands of other investors.

“We need to give Dominion a clean bill of health but only if it assures residents on the implementation of the project,” Oburu said.

Two weeks ago, chaos erupted at Ratuoro in Kadenge, Alego subcounty, over the issue of an alleged illegal licence to Dominion as a sugar miller.

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