Photo:Official opening of the 5th session of Marsabit County assembly by H.E Governor Ukur Yattani.
SPEECH BY:H. E. AMB. UKUR YATANI
GOVERNOR, MARSABIT COUNTY
MARSABIT COUNTY ASSEMBLY CHAMBERS
14TH FEBRUARY, 2017
I am pleased to join you and the people of Marsabit County this afternoon for the official opening of the 5th session of the County Assembly, and to address you on this very important occasion. I welcome you back from your recess which I believe has energized you for the final leg of the assembly calendar before the next general election due in August this year. I also believe that in spite of the ravaging drought currently affecting our county, members had fruitful engagements with their electorates during the break and now more invigorated to resume the house agenda with requisite zeal.
As you commence the final Session of the last term of this pioneer assembly, you should call to mind your critical roles both individually and collectively as the premier County Assembly members – that there is a duty that weighs more heavily on us than any other generation; the duty to leave indelible marks for generations to follow, for in our hands, will rest the final success or failure of our course. This unique historical opportunity accorded to us as first crop of elected leaders under the new Kenyan constitution reminds us that we are here, not for ourselves but as peoples’ representatives and voices to the many and varied interests of the county. I thank you all for staying faithful to this call while discharging your mandates with dedication and commitment over the last assembly sessions.
As the first County Assembly of this county, I applaud you for exercising your legislative and oversight functions effectively, particularly bearing in mind the need to set the very foundation and pace for the development of Marsabit County. In this regard, I wish to point out that despite some good efforts, the general legislative agenda of the assembly is lagging behind schedule and therefore deliberate measures should be put in place to fast track critical bills and policies that have stagnated in order to realize full benefits of devolution.
I further wish to mention that, in this final session of the Assembly, the executive intends to transmit the following legislative proposals for your urgent consideration;
1. Conservancy Bill
2. Sports Bill
3. Trade Market Management Bill
4. County Industrialization Bill among others,
It’s therefore my hope that given the importance of the said bills, the assembly will accord necessary priority to actualize the intended benefits for the county.
Peaceful co-existence of communities in this county is a mandatory call for us all. Our aspiration to be a cohesive and prosperous county of choice should be fostered at all cost. It is fresh in our minds how agonizing tribal feelings can get and how difficult it is to reshape the attitude of a tribal guild, but we should never relent as civilized society in enhancing cohesion. Never again should we allow lives scarred by barriers of hatred and ethnic discordance.
On my part, I want to reiterate here that, my administration has remained steadfast in uniting communities of this great county, for I believe true socio-economic and political verve of this county cannot be realized if we continue to be held back by retrogressive divisive politics of yester years. And so I say to you Honourable members, and to all the resident of Marsabit county, that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying us our future. Let’s always endeavor to look at the greater ideal of community integration even as we engage in political contest. The recent systemic outbursts by some desperate political leaders who are caught up in a time-warp and bent on stirring ethnic emotions particularly through local FM radio stations, with the dim-hope of reviving diminishing political careers and prospects must be condemned for they are not only sad reminders of that part of an ugly history but also a threat to societal integration and general human civilization.
Devolution came as a joyous daybreak to end the long nights of marginalization and exclusivity in this region. While I remain fully aware that the work ahead is still enormous particularly laden with heavy public expectation and demand for instant results, it is gratifying to note that, my Government, in the short period of its existence has registered tremendous progress in many fronts. In line with our County’s mission of spearheading transformative and sustainable development towards achieving quality life for all, my administration has not only revived the previously collapsed social-service but also initiated new development programs and projects capable of stimulating economic prosperity in the region in the long run.
In line with the new constitution that envisions values of sharing and devolution of power, particularly observing the tenets of devolving of resources and decision making to the lowest devolved units, my government has kept faith by establishing fully-facilitated units of public service delivery in all the four (4) sub-counties, twenty (20) wards and our two (2) towns; Moyale and Marsabit. My Government has occasioned deployments of well trained and well equipped staff to all these units with a view to enhancing quality public service delivery in respective areas as well as streamlining development plans and coordination of all development actors. Despite executive’s desire to operationalize devolve units to the lowest possible level of the village in conformity with the County Governments Act, regrettably, this honourable assembly has not lived to its mandate and for undisclosed reason has failed to expedite the passage of the said bill for over 3 years. The bill if passed would have had net import of enhancing service delivery and public participation in the affairs of government at the lower levels. It’s indeed unfortunate that this honorable assembly will be deemed to have failed to take advantage of the unique historical opportunity accorded to it as first crop of leaders to institutionalize such important matter that’s dear to the citizens of the county.
As you are aware, we inherited a health sector that was not only grossly under resourced ranging from human resources, finance, supply of health commodities but also with completely rundown infrastructures and lack of clear referral and outreach services. Our consistent efforts of allocating over 30% of our annual budget to the sector in the last 4 years have borne dividends and led to a turn-around and increased public confidence in the sector. Just to mention a few; the sharp increase of health care staff from under 200 to over 800 during the period coupled with regular and enhanced supply of drugs, modern infrastructural growth as well as installation of modern medical equipment has revitalized health care service delivery in the county.
The on-going doctors’ strike that has considerably impacted on the health services delivery is regrettable, and could indeed have been avoided if all the stakeholders embraced dialogue and negotiations. I wish to appeal to our doctors, majority of who have undeniably shunned the strike to continue with their critical services to humanity as their welfare issues are being addressed.
Despite the fact that Marsabit is a water scarce county, I note with great satisfaction the positive strides we have made in the water sector. In the last four years we have managed to drill over 40 boreholes, constructed several dams and pans in strategic places both for domestic and livestock use. These interventions have reduced average distances to water sources from over 70kms in 2013 to below 20kms at the moment. Despite strides in the sector, water for Marsabit and Moyale towns, our key urban centres remain the greatest challenge for my government, given the monumental financial investment required to realize the project. I am happy to note that our discussion with African development bank through Northern water services for development of Marsabit water and sewerage project has been generally successful. The Kshs 1.6 Billion project is expected to commence soon as initial procedural activities including identification of land for sewerage plant, completion of the project design and formation of a local water company have been successfully executed.
It is also indeed regrettable and offends all moral sense that despite lots of talks on the stalled mega dam that was expected to supply water to Marsabit town, to-date no tangible action has been taken by the relevant agencies of the national government to revive the stalled project despite loss of billions of tax payers’ money.
Road infrastructure is not only essential for service delivery but also offers a major impetus for trade, investment and wealth creation. In the County road sector, my administration has upgraded over 5,000Kms of road network with construction of additional 1,000Kms in the last 4 years. This has not only enhanced mobility but also improved security and opened up access to remote pasture lands.
Undoubtedly, we are exceedingly excited to witness the completion of the Isiolo-Moyale road which is destined to spur economic growth in the region significantly. Equally, we have also embarked on upgrading of Marsabit town roads to bitumen standards as promised. I wish to reiterate that as we enjoy the full benefit of the super highway and tarmacked urban roads, users, particularly motorcycle riders should take extra-caution to guard against loss of lives through road accidents.
My Government in its desire to raise the standards of living of the people has carefully and systemically initiated appropriate strategies and policies to support meaningful exploitation of our rich economic potentials particularly in the sectors of; livestock, fishing, tourism, mining, energy and trade. We shall continue to pursue both policy and legal measures that will make our County attractive to investors.
Unlike in the past, with increased population in the county, food insecurity levels have risen to historic heights. There’s therefore need to anchor Agricultural sector as a turn-point in reversing the devastating effects of poverty and dependency. The need for using better farm methods through acquisition of more modern tractors, provision of seeds and stepping up of extension services and increasing land under food crop cultivation in the coming years is not only urgent but top priority and remains the only sure way of confronting this challenge.
Livestock, the mainstay of Marsabit County through its contribution of over 80% to the economy, remains a critical catalyst in attainment of food security, provision of jobs and creation of wealth for the people of the county. My Government will therefore continue to invest in this sector particularly in ensuring completion, equipping and operationalization of the ultra-modern Segel Abattoir currently under construction in a year’s time, with a view to making livestock products competitive in the world market.
In the area of trade, the ultra-modern Marsabit Market currently under construction in Marsabit town alongside many other urban markets as well as numerous Livestock markets all over the county constructed in the last 4 years are intended to facilitate the private sector as part of our broader sector development strategy. This market projects and the new Biashara centre initiative will be a major milestone in bolstering trade and enterprise in the county.
I am also happy to note that the Kshs 60 Million County Enterprise fund and the matching Kshs 90Million funds from KCB Foundation and SNV development partners that were recently disbursed to over two thousand small and middle level entrepreneurs have already had positive impact on the local economy through employment creation and promotion of entrepreneurial growth; a much needed catalyst in promotion of the private sector as engines of growth and wealth creation.
The county’s renewed development priorities in the sector of tourism are anchored in the Vision 2030 strategy. In addition to mapping out of tourism sites in the county, my Government has developed unique and attractive facilities including Bongole resort, Kalacha and Loyangalani Bandas to promote the sector. It’s noteworthy to mention that, Tourism will not only remain as an important generator of employment opportunities but also an instrument for economic growth in the County.
In the devolved areas of Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, home-craft centres and child care development, my administration has undertaken numerous construction and equipping of such facilities across the county. Besides, we have recruited adequate number of ECDE teachers and continue to offer a sustained school feeding programs for over 17,000 children in the county. We endeavor to sustain this expansion to provide opportunities for all our children to access school.
Further, I am glad to note that the long awaited County Scholarship Fund is due for launch on 20th February, 2017 (next week). I commend the selection committees at different levels for timely execution of their mandates despite initial hiccups in the establishment of fund’s administrative structures. I am profoundly pleased that over 500 students pursuing various courses at various levels will not only have their college fees paid for them but will ultimately get employment opportunities with the county as we have serious skill gaps in the said areas at the moment.
Improvement of our sporting facilities, talent identification and nurturing is a commitment of my administration. The construction of multi-million Marsabit stadium to an international stadium has commenced and will undoubtedly change the face of sporting facilities in the region. This is in fulfillment of my inauguration pledge and a commitment to the youth of this county.
Proper land use planning guarantees prudent land management. As such, we have embarked on planning of all urban centres as well as agriculturally rich areas to optimize its potential. In the Energy sub-sector, recognizing its significance as an important enabler for development take-off, we continue to work closely with several development partners including GIZ, UN agencies and other private investors in the area of renewable energy particularly in our abundant wind and solar to harness the rich potential for the benefit of the population. I am happy to note that in the coming two months we will have light all streets of Marsabit town and create a 24-hour economy.
As you are aware, our desire for continuous improvement and monitoring & Evaluation of our development planning and implementation, resulted in the revision and subsequent launch of our County Integrated Development Plan with the support of UNDP. The plan was lauded as the first in the country and now bench-marked as a model by all other counties. The next step now remains how to translate the CIDP’s vision, aspirations and strategies into real change so as to improve the well-being of our people.
Realizing resource constraints given our limited allocation from the country treasury against the huge development challenges, we have been engaging development partners with fairly reasonable success. Our partnership with the United Nation country office to undertake an area based “Cross-Border Integrated Program for Sustainable Peace and Socio-Economic Transformation for Marsabit County and Southern Ethiopia” to spearhead socio-economic transformation of the region is well on course.
I am pleased to note that two States; Kenya and Ethiopia as well as the project host regions are due to execute the project document in a week’s time for program take-off and resource mobilization is well under way. In fact, the UN Country Team has already offered to provide technical assistance to my Government in areas of capacity building, baseline-data collection, planning and coordination of area-based development.
This is no ordinary time for our people. As leaders we have heavier responsibilities in the face of the currently raging drought which has shaken us to the core. Livestock continue to perish in numbers and human life is at risk. The need for water trucking, urgency to supply fuel and spares for boreholes, provision of food relief and other emerging challenges including addressing security concerns remains urgent. In the face of this devastating life threatening situation we must individually and collectively re-commit ourselves as leaders so that no one dies of hunger.
In this respect, i have forwarded to this honorable assembly a supplementary budget three weeks ago, where I have detailed strategies of confronting the drought including cutting on most recurrent costs of the departments as well as postponing some development projects with a view to saving lives and lessening the sufferings of our people. Sadly, though this is a real time emergency, I have not seen equivalent and urgent level of response from your end. I implore upon you to rise to the occasion and put the interest of our people first and execute this matter in the shortest possible time.
I also hope that the President’s declaration of the current drought as a national disaster will open doors to humanitarian agencies and national government for more assistance.
As I conclude, the distinct role performed by the executive and the assembly complements the functions of the other. Therefore, I wish to underscore the importance of consultative approach between the two arms, rather than mutual suspicion that have on occasions scuttled service delivery to our people. Let’s continue with the conduct of house debates and interactions on the high plane of dignity and discipline as demonstrated before.
I ask of us here high standards of strength and sacrifice, with history the final judge of our actions, let us go forth to deliver diligently on the task at hand, the task for which we took the oath of office.