- The leadership of the county must focus on reforming the architecture of that town as a matter of priority.
- The proximity to Lake Victoria has not helped in opening up the county to tourism-related activities nor the existence of Rivers Sio, Nzoia and Yala
The commissioning of the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) at the Busia Border some years back by the heads of states from the East African region and the promise to use the model intervention as a best practice sounded so encouraging.
The operating framework for the OSBP required some serious work on improving the road, transport (water transport across the many water bodies and reworking the airstrip in Busia), power supply, creation and maintenance of an industry park be done, without which the project would not succeed.
The leadership of the county must focus on reforming the architecture of that town as a matter of priority.
A comprehensive town reform roadmap using a multi-sectoral approach is very essential. That town must change even if we focus on other areas.
Several years later, the pace and priority for investing in the infrastructural sector by the relevant agencies have been slow-paced, even as reasons for the neglect are given.
The town has been kept as a shanty with old structures thrown all over the town for quite some time, without care to urban planning principles, disorder is the order of the day with oil tankers parking on the roadsides as the potential for harm dares at the town residents.
That Busia county has severally failed to host the national leadership because there is no national project to warrant such attention is disgusting.
Imagine even, the Mulwanda border point, which was gazetted by the Kibaki government is yet to be operationalised for whatever reason, outside the opportunities that would come with such action is worrying.
The town has no airstrip, land sites/beaches on Lake Victoria that act as entry and exit points from other countries in the region remain neglected and the existing transnational road is always under consideration for construction is no better news.
The potential for a dry port at the Busia border point is real given the availability of goods in transit to the other East African countries which will see more investment opportunities and income generation for the country and county government.
Investment in the improvement of infrastructure will obviously have an impact on cross-border trade and movement and related envisaged regional block advantages of the East Africa Community.
Studies show that, in addition to the port's potential as a link to the great lakes region and central Africa, the county has a huge potential for cement production (it shares similar topographical characteristics with Tororo region in Uganda which produces cement), organic fertiliser manufacturing plant and Cassava and sugar production on large scale so long as investors are looped in or the larger national government investment.
The proximity to Lake Victoria has not helped in opening up the county to tourism-related activities nor has the existence of Rivers Sio, Nzoia and Yala seen the exploitation of the irrigation potential of the region.
We have always remained in pilot mode forever. Budalangi remains tormented with floods yearly instead of the water being useful to the residents.
Busia county, with its transit points, is a serious contributor to the national exchequer, with conservative estimates indicating that it brings billions from cross-border trade through the transit towns of Malaba and Busia. 40 pe cent of Kenyan exports are sent to Uganda and imports from Uganda to Kenya worth about $150 million pass through the two towns.
The county government must find creative ways of working closely with the national government, NGOs, trader organisations, private sector, standard-setting organisations, regional economic communities, regional national and international research organisations, academia among others to ensure this works.
There is a lot of goodwill, but this must be preceded by improvement in the infrastructure to facilitate this.
The national government is aware and should help jump-start the area, through the relevant ways, otherwise, we are missing out on the opportunities that are bound.
The transformation of the town is a critical starting point for many far-reaching developments in the county, and pushing the EAC regional block agenda, which the country is keen on.