Members of Parliament,
Members of County Assembly and Executive,
Members of the Clergy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We gather yet again for another occasion to mark Mashujaa Day, a day when we remember the great men and women who have brought glory to our nation Kenya.
It is however unfortunate that this year 2020, we have little to celebrate owing to the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic that affected not only our country but the world over and led to loss of lives. We are however grateful to God that the pandemic did not ravage our country and Africa in general as it did other parts of the world.
Here in Elgeyo Marakwet, we had very minimal cases. Two people died in our County after contracting the disease in other parts of the country. Currently, we have two active cases while six people who also contracted the virus have since recovered from home based care.
I take this chance to send a message of sympathy to all families in our County and across Kenya who lost loved ones as a result of this disease and wish all those still suffering from this disease a quick recovery.
I also want to remind everyone that Covid-19 is still here with us and we must continue to take every precaution to shield ourselves and our families until it is eradicated. It is regrettable that some of us have stopped wearing masks, washing hands or keeping social distance on the assumption that this disease has gone away.
As a matter of fact, our neighbouring counties like Trans Nzoia County have started experiencing an upsurge of Covid-19 cases. So let us therefore be careful and continue following the Ministry of Health precautionary guidelines.
Let me also request parents to cooperate with our schools management to ensure that they jointly put in place measures to protect our children, now that our learning institutions have reopened.
As a County, we will work closely with the Ministries of Health and Education to ensure that our children are safe. We have made arrangements to attach our health staff to schools in the event of any emergencies.
It is our recommendation to the national government and education stakeholders that we all monitor the resumption of learning very closely and should we experience a spike in cases, we should not hesitate to take rapid action to safeguard the lives of our children.
I take this opportunity to further thank the national government and the various development partners for the support they gave our County in form of donations and thus helping us in our mitigation efforts against Covid-19.
As a County we put very strong stop gap measures, including setting up an ICU facility, to ensure our people are safe. We remain optimistic that God will intervene and this disease will soon be eradicated.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Covid-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity for our country to prove it can resolve its internal problems. Since every other country was faced by this public health challenge, it was everyone for himself and God for us all. Our human resource was our only hope in dealing with this pandemic.
We saw Kenyans coming up with innovative ways to combat this disease including artisans who built hospital beds to help increase the number of bed capacity in our hospitals, youths who invented jua kali temperature checking and automated sanitizer dispensing machines and learning institutions including our Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) here in Elgeyo Marakwet County who started producing face masks for free distribution to our people.
Kenyans also came together to assist their fellow citizens whose livelihoods were affected by this pandemic and I want to single out the many well-wishers who came to our County to donate food to our athletes whose incomes were affected by Covid-19.
In Iten town, the business community helped to fumigate public offices in addition to assisting us educate members of the public on anti-Covid precautionary measures.
We also had individuals like Caroline Makena, a police officer in Tot who used her tailoring skills to produce masks which she distributed free of charge to residents in Kerio Valley as well as Shokwei Barsulai, a teacher who volunteered her time and resources in her ‘Don’t Touch’ Campaign to educate our girls against early pregnancies and marriages while they stayed at home due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Another group that deserves special recognition is our health personnel, who continue to be on the front line in the war against this disease and are putting their lives on the line to protect us. Sadly, some of them have paid the ultimate price by losing their lives in the line of duty. We appreciate this sacrifice and our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. We pray that God will repay the good deeds of the departed medics to their loved ones left behind.
We also thank our security forces for braving the cold nights to enforce curfew restrictions, which are still in force, to stop the spread of Covid.
To me, all those who continue to help us navigate through this pandemic should be the heroes we celebrate today. Without doubt, they have displayed our true and resilient Kenyan spirit.
Allow me to further pay tribute to our daughter of the soil, Brigid Kosgei, who won the London Marathon early this month and retained her title which she won last year. To Brigid, we say hongera sana and we wish her the best as she continues to carry our County’s flag high.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we continued to provide services at the County Government and I am glad to note that development initiatives did not stop, although they were scaled down.
We only faced the challenge of delayed disbursement of funds for the current financial year 2020/21 due to the disputed revenue sharing formula at the Senate. We however thank the President for helping to unlock the stalemate by offering over Ksh 50 Billion in the next financial year to assist counties achieve equity in revenue sharing.
I am also hopeful that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) where I serve as the Rift Valley Chairman will ensure that counties get increased allocations from the national cake. I appeal to everyone to look at the positive objectives of BBI and support them.
Elgeyo Marakwet County was set to receive over Ksh 300 million in additional funds if the new formula proposed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) could have passed. Unfortunately, the Senate did not approve it and the status quo remains as we wait for the President’s pledge next year.
We regret the direction taken by the Senate especially because I had made a lot of effort and eventually convinced the CRA to allocate us more resources given that Elgeyo Marakwet is one of the most disadvantaged counties in resource allocation.
Nevertheless, we shall continue using the available resources to transform the lives of our people as we expect better days ahead. I am however glad that our County continues to make tremendous progress in development, and our efforts keep earning us national recognition.
Last month, our County was again named among the best counties to do business with, in a report released by the Controller of Budget. Our County was placed at second position. This recognition is in addition to a Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report released last year that placed our County’s economy as the second highest Gross County Product (GCP) per capita in Kenya.
This proves that we have used County resources well since 2013 when we started laying the foundation of this County. I am very confident of the stability of this foundation, and I remain optimistic that future governors of this great County will find it easy to continue with the progress we have made this far.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since 2013, we concentrated a lot in initiating basic infrastructure and programmes in all sectors of our County. These included roads, ECD classrooms, agriculture subsidy programmes and value addition, water projects, health facilities improvement, sports development, livestock breed improvement among many other initiatives.
The Equitable Development Act (EDA) gave us a good platform to deliver development in all our 20 wards in a just and equitable manner. Eight years down the line, I believe time has now come to move to bigger and more high impact projects in each of our four sub counties.
Let us make EDA better by proposing high impact projects that can be initiated on rotational basis in all locations of our wards. I am glad that members of the public have started adopting our new approach to EDA by not spreading too many projects in one financial year.
It is our wish that we cap projects to 10 per ward per year. Not only will such projects be impactful but it will also do away with delayed implementation that often results to roll over of funds in every financial year as is the case currently.
I appeal to all stakeholders, including our Members of County Assembly, to continue guiding our people in this direction so that we can even move this County from economic empowerment to industrialization.
At the County Executive, we have started going this direction with donor funded projects and one such example is the Ksh 169 million grant that we received from the World Bank after being rated as one of the top performing counties under the Kenya Devolution Support Programme (KDSP).
With this grant, we have identified four high impact projects spread out in all our sub counties. They are; Mother and Baby Hospital in Keiyo North worth Ksh 62 million, a Potato Seed Multiplication Centre in Marakwet West which will cost Ksh 30 million, Kapkobil-Chepuser Irrigation Project in Marakwet East at Ksh 42 million and Ainabyat Water Project in Keiyo South costed at Ksh 34 million. This is the way to go if we are to create jobs and wealth for our people.
Since the inception of EDA, we have witnessed very strong collaboration between the county government and our citizens. I know that if we continue collaborating, the future of this County will shine even brighter.
In conclusion, I wish to call upon County staff and contractors who will participate in the implementation of this financial year projects to move with speed given that we have already lost over three months due to the revenue stalemate. Let us not waste any more time in delivering the much needed service to our people.
Allow me now to wish you a Happy Mashujaa Day and may God bless you.