One more county needed to allow Lake region bloc launch

Nyamira county assembly in session. /FILE
Nyamira county assembly in session. /FILE

The Nyamira county assembly has ratified the Lake Region Economic Bloc Bill, increasing the momentum to also operationalise the bloc.

It became the fifth county to ratify the Bill.

The bloc has 14 counties. Six counties have to pass the bill to enable the bloc’s operations to take effect. Kisii, Migori, Kakamega and Kisumu had adopted it. They now need one more.

Other members are Vihiga, Homa Bay, Busia, Bungoma, Kericho, Trans Nzoia, Siaya, Nandi and Bomet.

Gesima MCA Charles Maroko said the formation of the bloc is an important step towards spurring development in member counties and creating jobs. He criticised some leaders for opposing the bloc.

“We’ve heard a section of residents and leaders rising against the idea of joining the bloc by our county. They should be informed that the only way forward is doing everything possible to ensure development. This is one way of ensuring we do what is expected by our residents,” he said.

Maroko said is better off joining the bloc as it provides a brighter future for residents.

Kemera MCA George Nyachae said Nyamira will be a major beneficiary as the LREB will boost its agricultural sector — its economic mainstay.

“As a county that depends on agriculture, we have every reason to support the membership as we will greatly benefit from the resources that will be generated to our county to boost farming,” he said.

The bloc seeks to raise Sh2.8 billion to have a controlling stake in a commercial bank. Each county is required to allocate Sh200 million for formation of a regional bank — the bloc’s flagship project.

Last week in Bomet, MCAs failed to commit funds for the bloc. Governor Joyce Laboso planned to allocate Sh50 million per financial year, but the county assembly declined. The county boss sought Sh5 million from each of their 10 departments. But Budget committee chairman Haron Kirui said the LREB is not a priority.

“Deducting money meant for development was not wise. Since we have not passed the bill, no money should be committed,” Kirui (Silibwet ward) said during a special sitting to pass the supplementary budget.

But Embomos MCA Robert Serbai said the assembly will consider the allocations once it passes the Bill.

In January during the Lake Region Summit, bloc chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega governor) urged the remaining counties to adopt the bill by the end of this month.

“I’m happy that the counties, which have not ratified the bill, are at various stages of legislating it,” the governor said.

Lake Region Economic Bloc Assemblies Forum chairman Moffat Teya (Nyamira) says other counties are in the process of passing the bill.

“In some counties, public participation took longer than expected. But we expect the bill to be passed. We are committed to the LREB,” he told the Star.