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Ward reps face protests for snubbing Sh6 billion budget :: Kenya

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Siaya County Assembly speaker George Okode consults North Ugenya MCA Fred Opanga. The assembly rejected the supplementary budget claiming it did not comply with the public finance act and directed it to be returned to the county treasury for review and changes. [Collins Oduor/Standard]

Residents have put the county assembly on the spot over its decision to reject a Sh6 billion supplementary budget.

MCAs rejected the estimates for the 2018/2019 financial year, saying they did not address the county’s priorities.

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The ward representatives asked why governor Cornel Rasanga increased travel costs for the executive from Sh8 million to Sh27 million while slashing funding for more pressing matters.

The MCAs said they were angered by Mr Rasanga’s decision to slash the Ward Development Fund from Sh30 million to Sh10 million, and reduce monies for buying drugs from Sh85 million to Sh79 million.

But Rasanga said the decision to reject the supplementary budget would affect the county’s development plans.

Speaking on a local vernacular radio station after the MCAs rejected the budget, Rasanga said: “Some of the road projects we proposed were even requested by our leader Raila Odinga.”

The MCAs, however, protested at the newly introduced projects, which include: the rehabilitation of five dams at Sh28 million, construction of the Ngeta Kapongo water project at Sh25 million and installing the Got Mbaga-Uranga-Nyadorera water pipeline at Sh15 million.

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Maternity wings

The budget has also set aside Sh135 million for an eco-ablution project whose location or implementation is unknown, Sh20 million to build a centre of excellence and Sh75 million for the construction of three maternity wings.

There is also the upgrading of the 10km Bar Kowino-Nango road at Sh350 million, the 2km Opoda-Nyakasumbi road at Sh70 million, and the 6km Segere-Ogaso road at Sh210 million.

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The total approved development budget for the current financial year 2018/2019 was Sh2.5 billion.

Yesterday, users of the Segere-Ogaso road, which connects Ugunja and Alego/Usonga constituencies, held protests against their MCAs Leonard Oriaro (Central Alego ward) and his Ugunja ward counterpart Odero Rambula whom they accused of blocking Rasanga’s plans to tarmac the road.

Speaking to The Standard, the angry residents demanded that the road be tarmacked, noting that it would ease accessibility and boost trade.

“We are the ones who suffer on this road especially during the rainy seasons. We are warning the MCAs to stop cheap the arguments that have been doing rounds that Rasanga only wants to tarmac the road because it passes near his home,” said a resident.

The protest comes barely a week after boda boda operators in Bondo sub-county also held demonstrations to demand for the tarmacking of the Bondo-Kopolo-Nango road, which had also been earmarked for construction through the supplementary budget that the MCAs shot down.

But Mr Oriaro dismissed the insinuation that they were sabotaging the executive. “We are aware that the governor has resorted to sponsoring youths to hold demonstrations against the MCAs and we are warning him that this is bound to fail.”

His Yimbo East ward counterpart Francis Otiato said that some ward-based projects that had been identified through public participation were scrapped from the proposed supplementary budget.

“We are not going to be cowed. We must tell our people that if this budget is passed, it is likely to frustrate the achievement of the needs of the people of Siaya,” said Mr Otiato.

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