Let us manage Galana Kulalu, Coast governors tell state

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro addresses residents during a funeral in Ganze.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Governors in Coast region want the national government to allow the six counties to manage the 1.7 million-acre Galana Kulalu irrigation project abandoned by an Israeli company after a falling out with the previous administration over contractual disagreements.

The county chiefs want their Jumuiya za Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) economic bloc, led by its chairperson Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), to take charge of the failed Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project to fight hunger in the area that has been hit hard by the searing drought.

Mr Mung’aro and Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir said the counties should be allowed to take over the project from the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) and National Irrigation Board (NIB) claiming that the two state agencies had run down the project.

“I will ask donors to help [fund and revive the project in order to help our] people who are staring at starvation.

"Next week, I will join Governor Mung’aro in a relief food distribution exercise. The region’s MPs and senators should push for the handing over of the Galana Kulalu land to county governments. Kilifi and Tana River counties that own land should push for the same through their assemblies,” said Mr Nassir.

He said JKP can source for investors to pump funds into the project to revive agricultural production. Mr Mung’aro said he will also petition the Council of Governors in a bid to retake the land.

“We must work together to combat drought and food scarcity inthis region,” said Mr Mung’aro, who spoke during a burial ceremony in Kilifi.

Mr Mung’aro claimed land grabbers were eyeing the Galana Kulalu and Malindi ADC lands.

He added that, in the upcoming JKP meeting, the region’s governors will formally kick-start the process of retaking agricultural lands being held by the national government.

“Counties can run those failed projects and revive agriculture to feed our people. We cannot allow the lands to be given to private individuals. Kilifi residents donated the lands to the government for development projects but, if the state has failed, let the land be returned to the people,” he said.

Mr Mung’aro called for unity among Coast leaders in the efforts to push for more resources.

“We must unite regardless of our different political affiliations. The time for politics is over and we now need to unite and push for our interests such as food security, repossessing our lands among other issues,” he said.

Kilifi leaders, including Senator Stewart Madzayo, Woma Rep Getrube Mbeyu, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, Assembly Speaker Teddy Mwambire, and Ganze MP Kenneth Tungule accused the national government of skewed distribution of relief food.

They urged President William Ruto to serve all Kenyans equally regardless of political affiliations.

“We are seeing North Eastern region getting special attention while Ganze is ignored,” said Mr Tungule. Mr Mwambire said the Kenya Kwanza administration has alienated Coast hustlers.

“They are now in power, they have forgotten the starving voters,” he said. Mr Madzayo pledged that lawmakers from the region will resist attempts by the government to increase taxes in the National Assembly and Senate.

“We will not allow the President to increase taxes including NSSF [National Social Security Fund] contributions because Kenyans are already suffering,” he said. On Dr Ruto’s Cabinet and Principal Secretary nominees, Mr Madzayo said they “do not show the face of Kenya, we want equity”.

Ms Mboko said the drought has adversely affected Ganze and Magarini residents.

“We are telling the national government to ensure equity in food distribution. Ganze should be prioritised in allocation of funds. Women are suffering searching for water. We won’t relent in our criticism of the state of the government,” said the Likoni MP.