It is going to be costly to plant and maintain eucalyptus trees (sometimes referred to as blue gum) in Nyamira county especially on wetlands. This has emerged after Magombo ward MCA Honourable Richard Onyinkwa drafted the wetlands bill that is currently at the publishing stage.
The bill which is expected to be presented before the county assembly after recess, will empower the county government of Nyamira to demarcate all wetlands, zone them and then eventually protect them, giving Nyamira its lost natural vegetation.
In an interview, the first term county legislator said that it is disturbing to see Nyamira county, and Gusiiland by extension, sink to its lowest on matters wetland protection and the dangers of Gusiiland drying up when the causes are manmade.
“There has been an outcry from the people and the leadership that eucalyptus trees should be eliminated. That is okay but a strong and environment – favouring legislation will help make the blue gums extinct with time,” said the county legislator.
The bill, he added, will ensure that boundaries will be created between public and private land hence help reclaim public property which will be left to either grow naturally or other environment -friendly vegetation is introduced that will make wetlands thrive naturally.
Licencing the business
The legislator reiterated that the bill will introduce punitive licences to those who may want to plant eucalyptus tree species so that they pay to the County government eucalyptus tree maintenance fee, a venture not worth attractive because it will be costly.
“There is need for proper legislation to help in eliminating eucalyptus trees,” pointed Onyinkwa adding that Nyamira will run dry of natural water springs if blue gum trees are not eliminated from water zones.
“This will be my third bill to introduce in the county assembly after the disability bill, that seeks to empower disabled -but -abled -differently members of the society to access funds from the county government and from other avenues that will enable them to start income generating activities,” he said.
He added that for these groups to access funds, there should be strong legislation to protect these funds and regulate its access, failure to which there will be no accountability and effective utilization of the money.
“Personally am disabled and I know the challenges that people like me face in the process of seeking services and trying to earn a living, hence the need to use the legislative arm of the county government to empower people with different disabilities.” highlighted Onyinkwa.
His first bill that he presented in the county assembly, as a private member, Nyamira revenue authority bill that sought to improve revenue collection in Nyamira County has since been passed.
The Nyamira revenue authority bill, he said, can raise revenue collection and surpass the current figures if there is collective support.
Perturbed by the irregular disbursement of money from the national treasury-like it is now, Onyinkwa is never comfortable with the way county governments have been treated when it comes to accessing their equitable share and when demanding for a review upwards.
“The current stand-off is a clear indication that county governments will delay in implementing their projects. The first quarter of this financial year will be spent on analysing the budget and by the time of disbursement of the funds, there will be a lot time wasted and no tangible projects will have been done,” charged Onyinkwa.
Over Sighting the Executive
As the chairman of the budget and appropriations committee in the county assembly, the legislator feels there has been notable improvement in the budget making process and expenditure. However there are gaps at departmental level in terms of policy making, ownership of development projects and the procurement ghosts.
Budget implementation in the county government, he said, should have order with laid down mechanisms.
“For instance, there should be a thorough work plan verification process, a procurement plan scrutiny and close supervision of the implementation of the budgets in each department by individual County executive Committee Members(CECMs) whereby they present progress reports in the county assembly,” highlighted Onyinkwa.
Strained County Budget
He added that with good planning, there will be high absorption rate of the funds received because CECs will be accountable for implementing projects, supported by a strong team at the county treasury.
“In this financial year (2019/2020), budget prospects have been set at ksh 6.4 billion. I would wish to see into it that the thirty percent set for development is well utilized and projects as earmarked in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) in each ward are implemented on priority,” he added.
The controller of budget has set that thirty percent of the sharable revenue goes to development while seventy percent is spent on recurrent.
In Nyamira County, the 2018/2019 budget of Ksh 6.5 billion had set aside Ksh 1.9 billion for development while Ksh 4.5 billion was allocated for recurrent expenditure. 500million was sourced as grants.
He thanked the governor for accepting to set ksh31 million this financial year for each of the twenty wards in the county as grassroots development, money Onyinkwa said if well utilized, will greatly improve services in the wards.
On individual departmental expenditure, the county legislature recognized health services and transport, roads and public works departments as units that have really upped their service delivery and can be seen working.
Even with a junk of the health services department budget going to salaries at ksh 1.4 billion while a mere 135 million is left for operations, Onyinkwa says there is visible development in the health sector.
“There is close to 90 billion held back at the national government, while much of the services are offered at the county government. Why can’t a large portion of these money and functions be released to the counties because health is a devolved function?” lamented the county legislature adding that basic health care is at health centre level, facilities run by county governments.
The Magombo Agenda
As a representative of the people of Magombo ward in the County assembly, Onyinkwa said that his promises to the people are up and running adding that the remaining period he has in office will be crucial in delivering them.
“I promised the people of Magombo gravity water, through the Nyambaria water system. This project will involve purification of the water first before it is pumped to water kiosks then it will flow through gravity for access by people,” he added.
Besides water, the legislator promised to improve the roads and through the ongoing Mechanical Transfer Fund (MTF) road maintenance programme, he expects opening of new roads in his ward.
On health, the good news for Kenyamware and Nyamwanga people is that the two health centres that have stalled for ten years will be up and running soon.
“Sometimes funds delay but that will not deter me from achieving the expectations of the people of Magombo,” alluded the legislator currently pursuing a masters of project management the University of Nairobi.
Although the budget and appropriations committee chairmanship is involving, the people of Magombo ward remain close to his heart hence the more time he spends in his ward listening to the people’s concerns.
On education, there are two early childhood education classes that are being constructed while six new ones may be procured by the end of this financial year.
“Who knows whether they may reward me with another term come next election for having achieved to their expectations?” paused Onyinkwa.