By Asaka Nyangara
Muhoroni sub-county is endowed with fertile land and well known for its great potential for agricultural activities that include sugarcane and livestock production. However, due to mismanagement of resources and lack of interest by the County leadership, the economy of Muhoroni Sub-County continues to be on a steady decline, with more and more farmers losing hope on sugarcane growing and seeking alternative means of survival. Here below is the summary of the report of my recent visit to Muhoroni Sub-County and my thoughts on what can be done to revive the economy of Muhoroni, thus empowering our people, particularly the youths and women.
A lot has been said about the sugar industry being intentionally killed by Uhuru Kenyatta’s government by allowing cheap sugar imports from Uganda. We all know that Uganda faces huge deficits when it comes to sugar and one is left wondering where the cheap sugar that Uganda exports to Kenya would come from. We have since established that the sugar would be imported cheaply from countries such as Brazil to kill our own sugar industry, thus killing our economy, rendering our youths jobless, and making our people poorer. To salvage our sugar industry, we repeat that:
- Cheap sugar imports must be stopped. Illegal sugar imports must equally be stopped. Those cheating the tax system to flood our local markets with cheap sugar must be arrested and penalized;
- Our own sugar industries must be revived. The national government’s efforts to privatize the sugar industries must be done in a transparent and consultative way to prevent white elephant projects in Muhoroni sub- county;
- Sugar cane farmers must be paid promptly and at a competitive rate to compensate for the high cost of production;
- Reduce cost of sugar production by (i) upgrading the quality of the plants to be technologically cost effective; (ii) provision of subsidized farm inputs and implements to the sugarcane growers; (iii) reduction of taxes levied on sugar production;
- Introduce bonuses for sugar cane growers so that they can enjoy the same relief as their tea and coffee counterparts in other parts of Kenya;
- Introduce technologically updated farming methods and ways of grading of the sugar cane so that farmers not only get better yields but also get better pay depending on the quality and quantity of cane yielded;
- Merge the fragmented ‘sugarcane growers societies’ to form larger cooperatives which are professionally managed. This will allow the farmers to merge their small farm land to form larger blocks which are cost effectively easier to manage with the aim of better production (quality and quantity).
- Encourage food crop farming to broaden the livelihood base.
Most feeder roads in the county are impassable during the rainy seasons or even difficult to navigate through during dry seasons. We will petition the authorities that the CESS collected be made transparent and used accordingly to maintain these roads.
Those who keep livestock or operate butcheries are very badly affected by the closure of Muhoroni slaughterhouse. They reported to me that the closure was effected 5- 6 months ago. Reason given for the closure was that the slaughter house was in bad shape and did not meet the hygiene standards. A visit to the slaughter house revealed that it does not require substantial amount of money to be renovated to save our people from waking up at 4:00am to walk all the way with livestock to the existing slaughterhouse at Koru. My team is working with the residents to revive the slaughter house and in future we will get a means in which we can generate biogas from wastes here then get a special generator to turn the biogas into electricity to light up homes and the abattoir like it happens in Naivasha.
Like in other sub-counties, our people in Muhoroni are living in fear due to escalated insecurity. Just this week, a body of a resident was found brutally murdered and dumped in a sugar cane plantation. While it is the responsibility of the National Government to provide security to all Kenyans, it is equally the responsibility of the County Government to complement the dismal efforts of the National Government in providing that security. Increased patrols, lighting up of streets, establishment of community policing are some of the things that the County Government can and should do. Another area where the County Government could help is to work with the County Commissioner, area member of Parliament and other leaders to complete building structure for the Chief Camp, which is located along God-Nyithindo- Muhoroni road. The uncompleted building had it steel doors vandalized by criminals and is currently a hiding den for the thugs and murders that harass residents. Our finding is also that funds were already allocated to this ghost building now housing these thieves and killers. We have written a letter to the area District Officer to complete the building before the end of this year.
Uncollected registration cards
Issuance of Identity Card is a right to all Kenyans. This right is being denied to our people in Muhoroni sub-county. A visit at Manera revealed that hundreds of Identity Cards remain uncollected because of corruption. After processing the IDs, the ID owners are being asked to produce some money to the corrupt goons that manage registration office before their IDs can be released to them. We have names of those corrupt pests and we have alerted authorities including EACC accordingly.
El Nino weather phenomenon
Those who listened to the radio (Ramogi FM) on 12th September heard me issuing a warning to our people on the upcoming El Nino weather phenomenon in Kenya. While we hope that the impact would not be similar to what Kenyan’s experienced in 1997, our people in low lying areas must be made aware of the impending catastrophe caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and all necessary preparedness put in place to mitigate the impact. Possible impact of the phenomenon includes loss of life, assets/livestock, disease outbreak and damage to our fragile infrastructure. We therefore should move to safer grounds/ high grounds, ensure safer storage for our farm produce, avoid crossing bridges (unless if advised by the authorities) during the rains as structures could be weakened, equip our hospitals to deal with cholera outbreak, snake bites, malaria, and water borne diseases. Community monitoring of water levels along our rivers that burst their banks should be in place. I have already spoken to Kenya Red Cross officials and they have assured me that they have disaster preparedness in place but I still want to urge our residents to take extra precautions during the El Nino period that could last even longer than a month starting from the month of October.
Muhoroni residents reported to me and my team that a strange thing is happening in the sub county, especially in areas surrounding God- Nyithindo. Although many of them claim that the “gods must be angry”, what they described to me resembles earth tremors which are quite normal and harmless. Earth tremor is an involuntary movement of earth surface caused by stress in the underground rocks. They are signs of seismic movement within the earth. I therefore urge Muhoroni residents to continue with their lives unabated and consider the earth tremors as normal and natural. Any threats from these would be outlined by the geology department at the University of Nairobi and mitigating factors put in place, if needed.
Lack of clean water in Muhoroni Sub County
This was reported to us in every ward that we visited and we will address this serious issue separately.
Poor healthcare delivery in the county
This is another issue reported to us and because of the seriousness, we will discuss this separately.
Dilapidated infrastructure for education
This is yet another critical issue raised by the residents and we will issue a better statement and way forward after more assessments.
Youths presented to me and my team petitions on the high rate of unemployment in the sub-county. This is similar to all other sub-counties in Kisumu. We had addressed this in my previous article but want to underscore the revival of sugar industries to absorb our youths in Muhoroni sub-county.
This too was discussed and local solutions offered. I will articulate this in the next article.
We met with the youths who spoke to us passionately about sports and what we can do to support sports. For a start, the youths requested for balls to enable them enjoy football. We will work with the youths and avail to them the balls within the coming days.
Concerns with Lean Solutions Company.
Last but not least, a resident of Muhoroni sub-county, Mr. Albert Omondi outlined the desperation of Muhoroni residents in regards to Lean Solution Company. He handed in a copy of the letter that he sent to the management of the company. The letter is copied to area Member of Parliament, Hon James Onyango K’Oyoo. My team will soon meet with the Managing Director of the company to find a solution to the problems faced by the residents. Below are the issues raised by the community, through Mr. Omondi.
P.O Box 11295-00400,
September 14, 2015
The Managing Director,
P.O Box 121-00606,
Dear Sir/ Madam,
SUB: Concerns with Lean Solutions Employment Conditions
I appreciate your company offering employment opportunities to the residents of Got-Nyithindo ward. Nonetheless, as a concerned resident of Muhoroni Constituency, Got Nyithindo Ward, I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the way your company has been treating members of my community. The conditions under which they work, is regrettable and unacceptable under Employment Act, 2007.
The following areas require your immediate action.
Provision of reasonable/favorable working conditions:It is the responsibility of employer to provide free protective equipment including clothing and appliances, and where necessary, suitable gloves, footwear, goggles and head coverings to the workers involved in hazardous work. The type of protection needed varies depending on the nature of work being performed.
Lean Solutions is exposing the workers to very inhuman working conditions/environment. Workers are handling the factory waste with no protective clothing during their industrial undertakings. As you are aware, there have been cases of illness attributed to this. A few have died due to inhaling gas dust that comes from the waste. Your company, to the best of their knowledge, has ignored their plea to seek medical attention. The Employment Act 2017 provides that any employee who becomes ill or is injured by work related activities may make claim.
Fair Remuneration:I understand your company pays KES. 900 for one tone of the gas waste dried which translates to around 90 cents for one kilogram. In terms of operationalizing your payment, the terms means one has to dry about 45bags of the waste which lasts up to two weeks or more. A very hardworking casual employee at Lean Solutions can hardly make an income of KES. 2000 in amonth. Compared to the gazetted minimum wage bill which is KES 528 a day, translating to about KES. 15,840 a month, this kind of earning is quite dismal and need to be corrected
Employees should be under a contract:It is required by law that all employees be under a contract whether casual or on permanent basis.A contract is a well laid down document that legally binds both the employer and employee under terms and conditions. As per the operations of Lean Solutions, no single casual worker has signed or is under a contract. As such, your workers can hardly exercise their rights to any claim in case of work related accidents or illness.
Provision of medical insurance:The Employment Act 2007 further mandates the employer to provide proper healthcare for his/her employees. The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is the primary provider of workers health insurance in Kenya. The benefits package includes comprehensive medical coverage for all diseases.An employer is under obligation to provide medical treatment to his/her employees during time of service and, if possible, medical attendance during serious illness. Lean Solutions should take up a medical insurance scheme for the benefit of his/her employees.
I look forward to your responses in addressing these concerns.
Omondi A. G.
Cc: Hon. James Onyango K’Oyoo- MP Muhoroni Constituency
End of the letter.
Signed: Asaka Nyangara
The People’s Governor.
The author is a leading gubernatorial candidate in Kisumu county.