President Uhuru told Muhoroni M.P while they were at the Laboso funeral that he wants to come to Kisumu for development projects and not funerals.
That is right. But Mr. President please don’t come to announce dead projects or white elephants. They are worse than funerals. They represent a dead body lying in front of you for years which turns into decades. And you can’t even bury it. Frightening stuff.
That is what is happening now with Itare Dam. It is awful looking at that thing. They have hundreds of tractors and other huge building machines lying there in a deserted vast land.
The contractor is gone. The company declared bankruptcy and left. This company was pretty much bankrupt when our politically bankrupt leaders gave them a ton of taxpayer money.
This is the result of the Itare Dam debacle.
The government has forgotten that even while those huge equipments are lying fallow there they are still under lease and are being paid for while nothing is being done.
People who own those equipments are being paid on a per day basis as if the equips were being utilized. That is the economic world order. You don’t have to be too smart to avoid this nonsense.
If you rent a bus and park it at home you still pay the owner. That is what we are now engaged in with the entire dams fiasco. We are paying lease charges for equipments we are not benefiting from.
They are in sheds. The owners of these equipment companies are rolling in money and laughter at us. No wear and tear and no servicing and money in their pockets. Lovely.
But Uhuru and his government are afraid to remove the equipments from these embarrassing failures because that will announce the official death and burial of the Itare Dam project. We are still paying just to continue being foolish and pretending. Brilliant. Isn’t it? For them.
They took the money, shared it with our local thieves and gone. Kenyans now have a hole in their land with nothing happening and even a bigger hole in their pockets. And this is just one of the more than ten failed dam projects starting with Galoleni Irrigation project in Tana River.
I say this because I already had a big fight with our leaders about the proposed Kisumu Port which at one time was estimated to cost Kshs 14 billion which the government claimed was budgeted for.
Now we are being told the government is committing Kshs 2.8 billion for the Kisumu Port which is supposed to be commissioned this month when President Uhuru visits Kisumu.
In fact I have been hopping mad because my beloved Lwang’ni market is being demolished to provide space for the proposed port. In my opinion that proposed port is an emerging white elephant.
First the money involved is enormous and we are dealing with a broke government at the moment. Secondly the logistics are very complicated.
The SGR has to reach Kisumu and that may never happen at all. Then a port has to move goods from somewhere to another place to be functional. That we don’t know yet and so many other things. This port if it ever sees the day is coming around the year 2050 at best. None of us will live to see it.
In any event that is another story already covered in this website in an open letter I wrote to Hon. Raila Odinga and Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o.
My good friend has assured me he delivered the letters and has had some discussion with the governor and we are looking into a whole bunch of remedial actions to save Lwang’ni market.
Now to the issue at hand. Kisumu politicians want development and they want President Uhuru to come help them.
My first problem here is that every time you hear about development in Nyanza it starts with sugar factories like Muhoroni and Chemelil and it ends there.
It is so frustrating how many times we have to revive these Sugar factories every year now for decades. It is always the same thing in Western too with Mumias and Nzoia Sugar companies also on permanent death bed.
The politicians in these areas take the various presidents over the decades to these sugar factories, they take pictures and make speeches and kaboom the sugar factory is announced as revived and the politicians break into that crazy dancing jig of theirs and all is well for their constituents they say.
It is really annoying because as they dance they all know that the chronic problems bedeviling these enterprises like corruption, poor management, messed up market with imported sugar and relic machinery remain intact.
If we can’t change that rotten culture of mismanagement, these companies will remain on death bed forever. Or may be on life support. Choose your poison. You don’t have to.
There are alternatives if we are brave enough to pursue them which is to get rid of state cronyism, vicious corruption, lack of equipments and vision to move these big investments into the 21st century in the sugar industry in Kenya.
We are a big time sugar producing country. Let’s get out act together and get our market range.
But I am tired of these endless resurrection of Sugar Companies in our country.
Even Jesus only resurrected Lazarus once and he was up and running and of course dancing.
Jesus didn’t have to come again and again to resurrect poor Lazarus ten times which is exactly what we are trying to do with our sugar companies with huge taxpayer investments. Let’s fix what is really wrong with these investments that include huge sums of public money.
I will leave Kisumu town for now because I have said enough about it in my letter to the two amigos. But let me say something about our urban centres and urban development as a key piece of transforming our country for the good.
I will take Bondo where I live and invest just like others. It is beautiful growing urban centre. The establishment of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Unversity there added a whole new dimension to the growth of the town.
Construction is the fastest growing industry there. Folks are building everything and the housing sector is money in the bank if you pull it off. My son who fell in love with Bondo when he was five years old told me after our last trip there that we have to be careful.
He told me you can’t change Nairobi. It is too late. Kibera will remain Kibera. You can’t uproot it. But he said in a town like Bondo which is just growing if it is planned right you can build it the way it serves people best. These towns have zero infrastructure. Garbage is everywhere. Most people just set them on fire.
I always tell my sister who has huge operation at the Bondo market that it is a miracle the market hadn’t burnt down and it will. Of course none of these towns anywhere have even heard of something called the fire fighting department.
In other words any small fire can blow up these towns in minutes. Even the Nairobi City fire department exists only in name I remember seeing scenes when JKIA went up in smoke fire fighters were carrying water in pales to go stop it. That must have done wonders but I digress.
My point here is that in terms of development one area we need to look into is how to modernize our municipalities and help them create more work and opportunities as they grow.
That is what all countries do. Here in Canada we are having a federal election in two months. One of the biggest areas of focus is which of the two big parties are presenting a credible plan to build and sustain Canadian municipalities.
So I would want President Uhuru to come up with a plan of OK this is what I will do to help Homa Bay town, Maseno, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bondo etc and the same thing with Murang’a, Nyeri, Limuru, Kericho, Voi, Garissa and others then we are talking development. Not just sugar and more sugar, please.
Then we have to look into emerging silent economic giants. In Nyanza that would be cage fish farming which simply means people build cages that they float in the lake with their own fish fingerlings and grow fish until it is ready for harvest. It take just a few months and you can harvest thousands of tilapia ready for the market which is abundant.
The beauty of cage fishing in Nyanza would be that you don’t need to build a fish pond on dry land which is very expensive to do and to manage. When you do fish farming with cages in the lake you already have abundant water and all you need to do is build the fish cages and figure out how to float it. The technology is already there in Kenya and a few people are doing it commercially and it is very profitable.
This is what Cage fish farming looks like:
In Bondo our M.P Ochanda who is a very industrious M.P is piloting cage fish farming in Usenge beach with the help of technicians from Jaramogi University. It is looking very promising.
The amazing thing here is that if this technology is harnessed and residents who live near the lake and others willing to invest come along we can get more fish from cage fishing in Lake Victoria than the dwindling returns we get from our age old traditional fishing of harvesting fish from lake. The fish there are in limited supply now.
This is one of the many successful cage fishing operations in Lake Victoria:
And I really like this guy:
But building and promoting cage fish farming in Lake Victoria is very doable but we need to harness the technology, build the infrastructure mobilize the resources and the people and get everybody busy making money.
Look at these folks in Busia.
And in fact cage fish farming might finally give us the economic incentive to get rid of this hyacinth nightmare.
Look at this guy getting to work in the face of our lake terrorist called hyacinth.
This is what the Lake Basin Development Authority should be doing instead of building dead malls in Kisumu City and giving away half the fertile land in Nyanza to Dominion company to make a mess.
This is Bondo. Just great.
I will talk about Dominion later in this piece. But forget about Lake Basin whatever. Now we need to talk to President Uhuru and tell him this cage fishing in Lake Victoria could be a goldmine for everybody. If Nyanza people don’t do it, people with money are going to come over and take over the lake.
It will be the colonization of Lake Victoria the second time from when the wabeberu renamed it from Nam Lolwe and put the queen’s name on it. But this economic colonization of the lake could have devastating impact.
Once I put my cage you can’t ask me to remove it. Nobody owns the lake. It is the only unclaimed territory in the nation. Even Museveni wants part of it.
So we need to jump on this new trends in development. We cannot just be stuck on the same things forever like the way people just grow maize and beans. It drives me nuts.
If the government get involved in this cage fishing and build facilities including storage and cooling facilities and help the fishing folk get access to market you create a whole new economic stream for the country and it could be huge.
From my vintage point we have the Usenge lake line, we have Nyamonye where some with connections in Germany has set up a cage fishing operation.
I personally would settle for Lwanda Kotieno beach. It would be marvelous for cage fishing plus my sister lives there. Also from Kotieno I can sell my fish in South Nyanza. It takes less than half hour of ferry ride and you are in Mbita.
You can go anywhere in South Nyanza from there. Homa Bay, the capital of South Nyanza is just a shot away from Mbita.
And the road system from Kotieno Beach all the way to Kisumu is perfect ass well.
I am going to talk about other things later. But one thing for sure, when I went through most of Bondo area in Siaya county in my last trip there I was stunned with just how good the road network is and they are tarmacked roads.
I was telling people the roads only mean development if you can produce something and use the road to go sell it.
The road itself is not development if you don’t use it. You can’t eat the damn road for the love of god. I will continue with that and talk about Dominion fiasco after I finish my morning errands.
I am back.
Now let’s look at Dominion grand fiasco in Siaya County.
The Lake Basin Development Authority gave away this most productive piece of land anywhere in the world. This was at the foot of Yala Swamp and its entrance into lake Victoria.
This is what I am talking about:
Pictorial essay on Yala swamp / Dominion Farms project
This was a blunder and just plain robbery of land handed to a foreign company with the support of local politicians.
I am talking about 2,300 acres of absolute fertile and fragile land partly owned by the Kenyan state. We have the Yala Catchment area miles and miles before the river enters the lake. This is like a nature filtration system between the rivers and big waters.
We are blessed to have them. In fact the extinction of great fish species like Ningu and osoga, the white little fish and even the big one, kamongo (oh my) are partly attributed to the demise of the water catchment areas entering lake Victoria. That is where they breed. And it has been messed up for decades even before Dominion.
Now that catchment area is a no man’s land and everybody is fighting for a piece of it. That is bad news for everybody.
Dominion is dead. Their projects are dead.
This 2,300 acres of land with unimaginable possibilities for development and ground breaking successful investments in cereal produce, fruit produce and processing, massive fish production and processing including inland fish farming, massive vegetable produce for local consumption and export and so many more is rotting in negligence.
How can we look at that and talk about development in Nyanza.
Let us correct the mistake of giving our most fertile land and fragile eco-system cog to a failed foreign investment.
Now is the time for President Uhuru with the leadership in the region to come up with a well thought out plan and investment to get these 2,300 acres of our prime land into use and productivity.
It will produce billions every year and if we get it right that money could be going into the hands of a lot people down. What is wrong with that.