Homa Bay prison of no economic value in Ndhiwa, elders say

Administration and lecture hall at Tom Mboya University

The main administration building at Tom Mboya University, Homa Bay.

A group of elders has opposed the government’s plan to relocate Homa Bay GK Prison to Ndhiwa in Homa Bay County, arguing it will add no economic value to the new location.

They also claimed they were not consulted, that there was no public participation and that they have not yet received official communication on the plan.

The group in protest of the move is led by Joseph Ogada, the Homa Bay chair of the Luo Council of Elders; former Ndhiwa MP Otieno Ogingo; Gor Omondi, the council’s chairman in Ndhiwa; secretary Alfred Ogao and member David Aroko.

Addressing journalists in Homa Bay town, Mr Ogada claimed prison officers were seen on the land last week, which he said amounted to confirming the relocation plans.

“We cannot reveal our sources but rumor has it that the correctional facility will be moved to Ndhiwa without our consent,” he said.

Last week, John Warioba, the Kenya Prisons Service commissioner-general, announced plans to relocate the facility to allow the expansion of Tom Mboya University. The relocation is necessary as the prison and the university are adjacent to each other.

After asking President William Ruto to expand the institution, the leaders proposed that the prison be moved to either Ndhiwa, Rangwe or Suba.

Even though Deputy Governor Oyugi Magwanga assured all stakeholders that the matter would be solved amicably, it appears the process is already facing opposition from different groups.

“The land had been set aside for construction of a constituent college of Tom Mboya University. We therefore do not welcome the idea of putting up a prison,” Mr Magwanga said.

Within Kuoyo village in Kanyamwa Kosewe ward is a piece of land where the elders think the prison will be stationed.

It is a 50-acre piece that was purchased by the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) in Ndhiwa for expansion of Tom Mboya University.

“In January 2022, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga and other politicians visited the land and decided that the new university would be named Raila Odinga University College of Agriculture and Technology,”

Mr Odinga had also laid a foundation stone for the building.

In case the plan materialises, the original plan to have a college may be scrapped.

"We cannot allow for a college to be swapped with a prison. A learning institution is like an industry that will employ our people," Mr Ogada said.

He said the land should be returned to the NG-CDF for another project if Tom Mboya University does not want to use it.