Fear in Kisumu over re-emergence of a dangerous gang

Fear has gripped Kisumu County residents following re-emergence of a gang, even as police promises to wage war against them. The gang christened China had faded away few years ago after a confrontation with their rivals the American marine in Kisumu.

China who are well off with big businesses in Kisumu town and its environs, subscribe to the Jubilee coalition while the American marine who mostly control the main bus park are believed to be followers of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and by extension Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD).

The two groups however reconciled after a lot of interventions and all disappeared until two weeks ago when members believed to belong to the China squad stripped naked, tortured and whipped more than 10 youth they suspected to have been breaking into shops in Kisumu.

The incident happened on March 16, 2015 where after being whipped they were chased away by the perpetrators as they fled for their dear lives. One of the youth alleged to have been tortured by the gang, Paul Owino went to the police station to record a statement stating how he was beaten yet he was innocent.

“I was just walking near Cooperative bank when some people confronted me accusing me of being a thief and later ordered me to remove my clothes,” Owino said. The youth claimed they were being tortured to reveal who was involved in the alleged crime committed few days before the incident.

The incident has created an uproar from leaders, businesspersons and traders who are now fearing that Kisumu may slip back to what it was few years back. The police however down played the allegations, insisting that they cannot allow residents of Kisumu to be held at ransom by a few individuals.

Nyanza Regional Police Coordinator Willy Lugusa, who is hardly three months old in Kisumu however revealed that he has dealt with criminals such as Mungiki but this was not the case for Kisumu.

“It requires more time for the police to study the patterns of the terror gangs in Kisumu,” he said, adding that they are going to use information given to the police to track the terror gang.

via PorkNoser 

Amos & Josh to perform in Kisumu this weekend

Admin:

Kisumu’s Finest Artists will be LiVE on Stage this Saturday with entertainment ranging from Live Band Music, Dance, Poetry, Spoken Word, Narrative, Fashion & Design among others ……..Exploring LUHYA Culture. STUDENT tickets: 500 bob for 2.

The famous duo of musical genius – Amos & Josh will be in the house too. You don’t wanna miss this :)

Originally posted on OMINDE'S WORLD:

Amos & Josh Amos & Josh to perform at the next monthly Lakeside Culture & Talent exhibition at Alliance Francaise de Kisumu

TPF 6 Finalists Amosh & Josh who are currently riding high on the airwaves with their hit single Baadaye featuring Rabbit Kaka Sungura will this weekend headline perfomances at Kisumu’s Alliance Francaise.

The performance will be part of the monthly  talent showcase event that features spoken word artists, dance, narrative, fashion & design among other forms of art.

The event is sponsored by Alliance Fracaise de Kisumu, County Government of Kisumu, Ricotel Technologies, Tecno Mobile, Orange and Kisumu Businessman Aleki Alex.

Follow me: on Twitter @IamOminde on IG @iamominde

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OBONGO THE RAIN MAKER~by Godfrey Kedogo

Admin:

We bow in supplication to you
We bow to say thank you
Thank you for listening to our prayer
Thank you for answering our prayer

Originally posted on OUR POETRY CORNER:

OBONGO THE RAIN MAKER

We bow in supplication to you
We bow to say thank you
Thank you for listening to our prayer
Thank you for answering our prayer

Obongo the rain maker
The amazing drought braker
For so long we’ve been in deep sorrow
Hoping and wishing it rains tomorrow

Barren grounds
Infertile soil
Bare grounds
Yearning for your magical drop

We bow to you Obongo
Forgive us that sin
That awful sin
The awful sin that made you hold onto the rains

We have cried
We have longed for your rains
We have cried
We have longed for the grounds to open up

Obongo Nyakalaga
Obongo the rain maker
We’ve come to say thank you
Thank you for the quenching drop

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Of Rats and Ratalympics

The first (and only time I saw them with such an immense turnout) was just a couple of days after I moved in here. I want to assume that they too, as a social species had decided to hold their A.G.M at that time of the year, and that my tiny room (out of all other considerably big and wafted neighbors’) was selected for this exercise. This must have been too serious a rally, I could tell. The manner in which the leader ( I could tell this as the rodent was he only one standing on my Ampex sub-woofer and others literally looked up to him) clenched his fists and jabbed the air several times only made for the following antiphony in my head as I lay on my bed later on.

‘’Comrades riaahhh!! ’’

‘’ Riaahh!! ‘’

‘’ Comrades rialalah!! ‘’

‘’ Rialala!! ‘’

‘’ Comrades rialalest!! ‘’

‘’ Rialalest!! ‘’

‘’ For weeks we have suffered under the new occupant!! ‘’

‘’ We have suffered!! ’’

‘’ He has fed us on poison for days!! ‘’

( they shake their heads dejected )

‘’ And yet the lady next door cooks better than him!! ‘’

‘’ Yes, cooks better than him!! ‘’

‘’ But look at us now, still strong we stand!! ‘’

‘’ Yes, strong we stand!! ‘’

I must have interrupted all affairs at this point because upon pushing the door open all rats broke loose ( forget hell my friend ) scampering for safety. With my 3 by 3 I still wonder where they supposedly run to during such times.

My neighbor says she only has spotted, sorry, crammed three of whom she says fancy the idea of making a run from point A to B just when she is hosting ‘important guests’.

She claims one as a beard.

I agree. I must haves spotted the rodent on top of my woofer shouting slogans, or what is that sound made by rats again?

I’ve protested as to not having seen any during one of my visits to her place to which she calmly responded that how the rats decide who is a visitor and who is not is still beyond her.

Now am not the type to spend money on poisoning rats, no that’s inhumane, sorry, inratane. You must have heard the rats complain about being poisoned. That’s not me I swear, and that’s not my worry at the present but how they did confuse me for my roommate who rarely spends time in the room. I mean the guy is the shortest you’ll ever find in any campus but fortunately for him, he is the only one I presume, who knows how to keep the rodents at bay. He is simply genius on matters poisoning.

On a normal poisoning day he will simply make an arrival, prepare food, eat it all, sleep and snore then finally unconsciously cut short the supply of fresh air. Genius I said. No rat in sight for the next couple of days as they will need these to seek an antidote for the noxious gases inhaled. Our poorly ventilated room suffices pretty much very well such an exercise. The only problem with this is that it ends up keeping everyone at bay, visitors, the landlord and even myself. Matter of fact I was recently forced to have a nap outside under the mango tree. I had arrived, sweating from a rather rushed uphill climb from school, hunger problems friend. A push on the door is all I needed to get the stubborn hint. A wave comprising a concoction of gases hit and pushed me back and almost locked the door itself. Now on such occasions you simply let a brother rest in peace, quite literally, lest you find yourself in the sanatorium with gas-related complications.

The relationship however isn’t all that strained as my roommate makes it look. We have this symbiotic relationship with the rodents. You mind them when measuring out your day’s proportion for supper and they entertain you at night, with their night Olympics of course. Such a rare relationship I tell you. Olympics, talking of which my neighbor on the farthest end of the estate has reported spotting a rat doing push-ups when he woke up in the morning one day.

He recounts, having turned slowly to one end of the bed and was almost stepping out, he heard a panting he had never heard before. What he saw would astonish even you. Picture a tiny padlock-sized rat doing press-ups on top of your sky-plast super drum being the first thing you see in the morning. Strange isn’t it? Well, not here. We have seen a hundred meter dashes, relays using your matchsticks and even javelin throws using your spoons. Ratalympics friend.

They had their revenge though, to my roommate. Having persistently ‘poisoned’ the rodents for long, they finally had their go.

My good friend attends Bible Study groups in school. These they host in different rooms depending on whose turn it is to welcome guests. He joined it is first year, you know, back then when inviting guests to your room just when roommates were seated for supper was still considered an affront to decency.

He now was living outside school and as such, his guests had to make it early in order to avoid the unpredictable Njokerio rain. Rarely do we cook more than three different dishes at the same time, but with the Holy spiritually filled guests coming, we had to make an impression. So two junior bachelors endeavored on a journey of labored cooking, and honestly after such straining, it is all up to the rodents if they still think my neighbor cooks better than I do.

The guests soon enough arrived.

A ‘’The Grace’’ here and there, a ‘’Lamentation’’ here and there and finally after everyone had their fill of spiritual food, a prayer that would go a long way in blessing ‘’the food before us’’ and also ‘’ guiding the visitors back to school’’ was said.

It must have been during this prayer that stuff happened, I cannot exactly say how, but they did happen.

I made for the stew sufuria and it is the sight of a rodent doing a backstroke that greeted me. Initially struck me as to why my roommate decided to cut large chunks of meat and yet we had plenty of visitors. It was a rat, a backstroking rat that had somehow found himself floating in the stew after what I suspect was a record-breaking pole vault show.

And by the way, why don’t we reserve the rest of the story for another day? Trust me you don’t want to find out what happened next, or do you?

Have an integrated exam time, won’t you?

rat

Akello

Akello ssun

The Matatu seat was first mine, then ours, then hers.

Five minutes earlier we had been standing at the bus stop, Simba station-the exact place I had boarded our blue old school van years back. Taller buildings had been erected while I had been away and evidently more business went on in this south western part of the city. The sun was up and shadows fell with a chilling exactitude reminiscent of years past, when I occasionally missed the bus and received a generous share of Mr. Ochar’s best three on my bottom.

I remember seeing her eyes first, the first and last time I was to see them. I only knew them for that  split second, when her pen fell and on picking it sought to know whose shadow it was that served a weird complement to hers on the cold tarmac. Eyes of impeccable authority, I had looked away. The morning spoke only of her scent, mine subdued ages before, and with every passing vehicle, her flowery dress was blown till her knees showed. Each time she held the hem tightly to her knees until when no vehicle was oncoming.

Simba bus stage had not experienced a rise in public transport like other stages did. So here we’d wait for no less than ten minutes. Jaj was this very moment enjoying a morning concoction of urinal and faecal odour in Central Police station cells all the way in Kondele. Had called home to let us know he was apprehended the previous night. Claimed it wasn’t another club fight. He had-according to him- left the club very early, at 3 am. An exhausted wallet saw him trek back home in the dead of the night, and that’s when the boys in blue, having intensified night patrols in Milimani area landed on him. This had been in the wake of the Akshay brothers’ shooting in Milimani, and this being the shortest route home from town, that one of us would soon visit police cells for ‘walking suspiciously’ in Milimani was sure. The strong will of a younger brother got me out of bed that early to go bail him out, within I prayed he hadn’t lied about not having fought and probably ripped someone’s chest apart for it wouldn’t have been the first or second time. Jaj was calamity.

A ‘Nyanam Express’ screech made her hold the hem of her dress, only this time it would be the last time. Market women who had been all this while engrossed in steamy conversations scrambled for the back seats and she didn’t seem to mind that the matatu would soon fill up and be off, probably uncaring for her missing a seat. We were the last to board and I went in first. Only one seat remained and like all other good men, I offered to share it with my equally good woman here. So the Matatu seat was first mine, then ours, then hers. The plump woman to her right made it clear through her mass that she had paid for the space of two. I had been gradually but surely pushed to the missing sambaza so that my bottoms hang suspended mid air. I must have been in my best moods that morning, I felt adequately satisfied despite the fact that with every bump ‘Nyanam Express’ overcame I always left my ‘seat’ and flew up only to thud calamitously, and my bottoms sunk a little deeper each time. If this continued- I figured- I would arrive at Central Police Station sitting on the Matatu floor.

Akello’s warm thighs launched scalpel-like attacks onto my circulatory system, I fidgeted just enough to adjust to the changing environment. Her ID card had three names the first of which was the only one my craned neck could make out. I wished the matatu tout could give her change so that by returning to her purse I could see the other two names, and the blurry resigned face that I refused to believe was hers. I felt cheated, surely she couldn’t have fallen victim of the lies our ID’s tell. Her beauty was a life mask, a single flash across one’s face and it lodged there like gravel thrown on fresh black clay. She was not given change, and so she would remain Akello. No one had said a word as of yet, not even a ‘Hi’ that would open up a candor of possibilities.

‘Nyanam Express’ sped away after she alighted at Foamatt and as we approached the next roundabout I sought to have one last glance at her. My hinds comfortable now having taken her vacated seat I turned to watch her walk away and down the stairs of Ukwala supermarket. The old man’s knowing grin at the back seat chastised and brought me back into the matatu, and for the first time I realized that there was music in the vehicle, old gospel music. I knew the song. I remembered how as Form ones in High school we had been orientated into singing nearly all songs in the Golden Bells hymn book. The voice in the song from the matatu stereo was familiar too, Randy Travis no doubt. He sang-

In the sweet

By and by

We shall meet on the beautiful shore

In the sweet..,

 

Jaj had not mentioned the marijuana part, and I threatened to walk away for fear of parting with a little more cash than I had anticipated. On a normal day Jaj is an arrogant noonday ass, but not today. He begged from within the cells, and swore to pay back in whatever form. The part I liked best. I told him about Akello-who had colonized me to the very edges of my mind- and he affirmed that he would help. ‘’What are brothers for?’’, a cliche I had heard thousand times by now, pervaded my consciousness and I let him out of Central Police Station cells. The marijuana part would remain between us- as long as he held on to his end of the bargain.

Akello had now become selfish, turning everything in my mind into her. In here she had a sharpness of manner, appeared perfect in everything I saw her do. Everything she touched became perfect, it was like she qualified everything with her touch. So she trod, back and forth in my mind, her central deceit being her ever elusive face. I could never make this out.

That evening Jaj dropped two 3-quire counter books on the table and asked me to start combing through. Both were log books, one from the nearby Tom Mboya labor college and the other from J.O secondary school. I wanted to question the essence of all these but he signaled me to shut up and open the books and scroll down the names each page. He always wanted to work with the criminal department one day, and he still had these dreams of being a detective. I once joked that if ever he got close to the Cid department, it would be as a criminal. The jab that landed on my nose that day reminded me that criminals possess the heaviest blows. He left me to the task, and it was my problem anyway. I was surprised at the extent of his ‘help’ but babbled on at how big brothers might certainly be the most important people in one’s life, not the same as lovers though, but definitely needed, and with a brother caught up in marijuana scams, everything is possible.

Akello Ann Awuor was the last name that left the college premises that morning, according to Tom Mboya Labor college log book. I wanted to hug Jaj but he wasn’t around. I wrote Akello’s number down and stacked the two books for Jaj on his desk.

‘‘What took you so long?’’, the other end of the line. She sounded mature.

I almost hung up. This wasn’t what I had planned. This wasn’t how Jaj’s heads up to me stated. I was to be a stranger, a stranger in College seeking to recruit members of the college wildlife club-that had been a long shot though, had never heard of labor colleges having wildlife clubs. And this question she asked when I called made me hang up after a deafening silence as she awaited response from my end.

Maybe she’d mistaken my number for someone she knew. I would call again. This time my lines well rehearsed- ‘’Hi am John, a student in Tom Mboya labor college. I’m seeking to recruit new members for my club and I got your number from a friend. I was thinking maybe…’’. I wouldn’t falter this time, and Jaj was not around to make fun of me.

‘’Hello’’, I began

‘’Did I scare you already? It’s me Akello. I know who you are, and your voice isn’t much different over the phone.’’

I faltered in speech.

All the ‘I am John lines’ vaporated in the thinness of my room.

‘’Hello, are you still there?’’

I had never said a word to her in the matatu that early morning, save for the heated exchange I had with the tout who charged me a whooping fifty shillings from Simba to town. If she had audio-graphed this into her memory, then Akello knew more than just the voice.

Over the phone she was still heavenly, and original. And she dispensed her originality with such finesse of a peculiar kind. Each word that came out of her mouth sparked with sharp edifying sweetness and I felt intellectually challenged. For five minutes we spoke not of wildlife and clubs but of screeching vehicles with booming music and arrogant touts. She giggled when I-belatedly though- offered to hold her dress hem for her.

‘’If gentlemanly has been reduced to that then I bemoan my kind. We might simply fade out in history’s oblivion, perfect and intelligent and unmarried’’

I chuckled at that.

‘’So at what time do the gates of your face open?” I decided to let her know-or of course she already knew- the elusiveness of her face while in the same breath I had asked for a date. Jaj had done a good job. She had left school to go and keep an eye on her aunt’s children while the latter was away for the weekend thus she gladly welcomed me to check on her the following day. Her aunt stayed in Tom Mboya flats in town, not the college.

‘’You know where to alight, don’t you?’’ she asked amid laughter and I felt embarrassed at having stalked her that much. I would alight at Foamatt and she promised to be there. As I lay my phone down everything became Akello. An ant’s labored climb on the wall became an Akello wiggle. The halo on the virgin Mary’s portrait on the wall rotated in slow motion and in Mary’s eyes I saw Akello.

 

‘’You look like Napoleon and your rumpled moustache makes Hitler stir in his grave with anger. You also smell like burnt tea in the morning, and your belly makes you no different from a fully fed Ethiopian ibex.’’ Jaj’s opinion, when I asked him how I look, the morning before I left to go see Akello.

‘Nyanam Express’ pulled over as soon as I arrived at the Simba stage. Its tout still the same from the previous day. He cast a vile look at me as I boarded the vehicle and off it went. There is a mistaken notion, though ancient but it still remains with us, that an overdose of something, from fornication to food addiction will teach restraint by the very results of its abuse. The tout had so far abused hatred, because I felt immensely hated by him, and its overdose would never see him let a customer shun his Matatu when all he cared for was the extra coin drained out of unsuspecting commuters.

Five minutes off the stage and he poked at me to pay my fare. That is when the heavens realize that they have been too kind on your person and you realize that in your haste to leave home you forgot your wallet. The tout sounded a victorious thump on the sides of the matatu signaling the driver to stop for in here we had a hitchhiker. He had finally gotten back at me.

‘’Some boys think they are too smart for hustlers like us, kula jeuri yako sasa’’

Akello mat2

‘Nyanam Express’ sped away and Akello called, probably to ask where I had reached. I did not pick. Before I left home I had called to let her know that I was now leaving. It wouldn’t make sense to pick now, and say that I had been thrown out of a matatu? Hell no, my ego was the size of Zeus and Apollo combined. I walked back home in the hope I would find my wallet safe from Jaj’s itchy fingers. It took me fifteen minutes to get home and Akello called again. I did not pick. That was the last time she would call.

Fifteen minutes later I called her and it was her turn not to pick. Standing at the Foamatt stage I had armed myself with million excuses as to why I never picked up her call. It rang, and rang, and rang. She never picked.

Two newspaper sellers behind argued about how many casualties ‘Nyanam Express’ had caused only three months after it first hit the streets of Kisumu.

‘’This lady is the sixth I tell you, last Wednesday it knocked down a cyclist at Corner Legio’’

‘’No this is the fifth my friend, the cyclist’s passenger survived, only that would have made it six’’

‘’But matatus nowadays, pthoo!! Prying on innocent blood to flourish’’

I called Akello again and she did not pick up. I couldn’t figure out where she’d gone. She had said she would wait at the stage, right where she had alighted the previous day. ‘’You know where to alight, don’t you?’’, her voice rung in my mind and I heard her giggle. Still lost in this, someone pulled me from behind.

‘’Young man, you are standing on blood.’’

Kisumu artists team up to diss their Nairobi counterparts

The Kisumu City’s based artists have come together to produce a diss track against their Nairobi based musicians.

In the diss track titled “Beat Dem Bad”, produced by Street Breeze Records, the artists say in part.

Street Breeze wanna beat dem bad,

Mafala mko wapi mchapwe na hii,

Hao wengine kazi yao ni kelele

Mahaters wako wengi siwezi kapumua, ni yule dame huwa nawaua, nawaua na bazooka

among other hate-lines

I think this song is gonna get a lot of airplay, and will definitely be a club-banger in this lakeside city. It’s lyrically constructed and is sweet to listen too, you can’t stop shaking your head and thumping your feet. I love it.

Kisumu is surely rising. #DiscoverKisumu #MyKisumu #GoodMusic

To listen to this diss-track, follow this link: www.mdundo.com/song/25800

The Ksh 10 billion Mau Summit – Kisumu road funded by the national government and World Bank is 99.22% complete.

The road which is already open to traffic has restored the economic base along the corridor with numerous economic activities ongoing.

Minor works remaining include; repairs to damaged sections of the completed carriageway, Installation of road furniture and Markings, construction of drainage system and construction of road side amenities which include Nyamasaria lorry park and Awasi market.

The road under the jurisdiction of the Kenya National Highways Authority transverses through the counties of Kericho and Kisumu has been reconstructed and expanded to 11 meters wide from the bituminous surface 6.0 m to 6.5 m width that existed.

The upgraded road has already improved the social and economic welfare and the living standards of the people along the corridor. Some of the economic activities people engage within the area include agriculture, tourism and fishing which have already received immense boost. Land owners have also greatly benefited from the increase in value for their land.

It’s important to note most of the goods imported into Kenya from the port are transported by road along northern corridor that runs from Mombasa to Malaba which constitutes the newly rehabilitated Mau Summit – Kisumu. The road is expected to bear huge economic benefits in the country and in neighboring Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC Congo. The transportation cost will sharply reduce due to the minimal time spent transiting goods.

The once quiet shopping centres along the road are now vibrant and emerging towns. Fuelling stations, hotels and shopping centres are on the rise as residents look to capitalize on the good road infrastructure network.

The road will result to reduction of cost of goods since less time is spent transiting from one location. The distribution of locally manufactured goods to other countries will improve the competitiveness of the exports by also reducing the production and transport costs.

The road will also promote more efficiency in the facilitation of trade between Kenya and its neighboring countries and open up business opportunities in Western Kenya. Most importantly the road will boost development in the Great Lake region and drastically reduce road accidents. – Kenya National Highways Authority

Acacia Premier Hotel, Kisumu

The start of a new year ushers in the feeling of a fresh start as a unique attraction is opening soon in Kisumu City. It’s a new styled superior accommodation, complete with a presidential suite.

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Acacia Premier Hotel is a 4 star hospitality establishment with world class conference facilities, tantalizing cuisines, unrivalled services.

The high end hotel is ideal for your Business and or Leisure needs. A modern health club and gymnasium sets this property apart from the rest in the industry in western Kenya.

On the 2nd floor, swimming pool, gym with Aqua bar & grill has a breathtaking panoramic view and at first sight your words will be ‘’Wow!’’. Overlooking Lake Victoria, Kisumu international airport and Riat hills; this is the best place to experience stunning Kisumu Sunsets with Lake Victoria in the forefront.

Acacia Premier Hotel is a project of Simba Hospitality a division of Simba Corporation. The hospitality group already has two other hotels; Kempinski Villa Rosa and Kempinski Olare Mara.

Banquet room at Acacia Premier, Kisumu

Accommodation facilities
The beautiful Acacia Premier hotel has 94 modern guest rooms in; Standard, Superior, Club suite, Bay suite and presidential suite. All accommodations offer well-appointed rooms, with plush pillows and ultra-comfortable beds; in-room Wi-Fi service, computerized key card system, in room phone, mini bar, flat screen satellite TV, electronic in-room safe, climate control A/C. The Executive classes have a complimentary newspaper, fruit basket and bathrobes & Slippers.

Meeting & Event planning
In addition to contemporary comfort of our accommodation and mouthwatering cuisine, we offer outstanding service to make your banqueting and conferencing a complete success. Facilities are equipped with the latest systems and materials.

The Grand Ballroom which hosts up to 192 guests can be divided into 3 smaller ballrooms (Achiel, Ariyo & Adek), the connecting breakout area is great for cocktails, other breaks and buffet set up.

Food and beverage facilities include;

Baristar Coffee lounge

Barista Coffee Lounge offers a wide selection of teas and coffees from around the world as well as freshly made desserts, pastries and gourmet sandwiches, making this the central meeting point for a relaxing cup of your favorite beverage, a business meeting or just meeting up with friends.

CAFE AcaciaCafé Acacia, all Day Dining Restaurant offers extensive gourmet a la Carte menu and buffet cuisine. The menus consist of both local and International cuisines with a large selection of wines and beverages.

Buzz Bar

Buzz Bar is the place to be seen, meet, mingle and network. Comfortable soft seating and flat screen allows you to enjoy your favorite game, world class service & beverages, specialty cocktails and mouthwatering appetizers.
Aqua pool Bar and Restaurant

Aqua Pool Bar & Grill on the pool deck which is overlooking Lake Victoria is mainly open for lunch and evening cocktails with special themed nights and live music. Throughout the day guests can enjoy world famous cocktails and an extensive menu of drinks and snacks. The pool deck is the best place in the city to experience the famous Kisumu sunsets overlooking one of the world’s largest lakes.

Wellness & Fitness facilities

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On wellness and related activities, the hotel offers fully equipped state of the art gym, and wellness spa with 3 treatment rooms.

Website: http://acaciapremier.com/

Call: 0726774304

Local Benchmarking Tips for Counties

Adapted from the Standard Newspaper by Mohamed Guleid

Today, I will start with a rhetorical question: What does devolution aim to achieve?

Devolution, by its character, object and principles, aims to provide an opportunity for greater citizen participation in local development and permits the Government to respond quickly to local needs because the leaders are close to the people. In other words, it should hasten decision-making.

Looked at critically, it means that devolution could as well shoot Kenya’s growth into a Middle Income status before 2030. In its December 2014 report,  ‘Decision Time: Spend more or Spend Smart’, The World Bank recognises devolution as one of the key contributors to the positive leap in GDP growth last year, clocking above 6 per cent. No doubt, the cardinal principle of devolution is to distribute administrative, financial and political power to the local levels in order to augment the adeptness and efficacy of government. These principles, in turn, require enough resources to help the devolved governments realise the dreams of their people.

Most counties as of now are dependent on the shareable revenue from the national government. Even though a few of the counties have exhibited their investment potential to the investors, so far we have not seen results for that effort and the fanfare. Therefore, many counties are running at a deficit since locally-generated revenue does not meet the expected targets. Faced with that reality, a quick rethink to shift the minds of the people and the leaders is needed urgently. As a start, the counties will need to be innovative and raise their revenues by undertaking projects that are geared towards raising revenue rather than spending lots of funds on projects that don’t give returns.

One way many county governments believe will help them find ways to generate more revenue or learn about development models that are working is to travel to other parts of the world to learn best practices. After two years of criss-crossing the world, I guess most voters will tell you, nothing out of the ordinary has been witnessed on the ground. Many of these benchmarking efforts have not borne much fruit, so what is to be done? I propose that instead of hopping from one capital city of the world to another, county government officials need to visit each other and share experiences.

In May 2014, the Commission on Revenue Allocation launched model laws to help county governments plan and legislate for revenue raising policies. These model laws give a clear guideline which, if adopted, would help enhance the ability of the county governments to generate revenue.

The county governments have a lot to learn from each other when it comes to benchmarking. I visited Bomet County recently. I witnessed an amazing phenomenon. A modern international standard sports stadium is being constructed. The stadium, I was told, will be the third largest after Moi Sports Stadium Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium. Amazingly, the construction is being done by the county government and has provided employment to hundreds of people. The cost is conservatively low, meaning the county saved millions of shillings which otherwise would have been wasted through a lengthy and sometimes obscure procurement process.

The Bomet case is unique because a state-of-the-art stadium with a capacity of 37,000 spectators will no doubt generate revenue for the county government and increase the county’s ability to spend more money on development especially should Kenya go ahead and bid to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Bomet is two hours from Nairobi and may be, just may be, it will have set up an airport for light aircraft by the time. Another best practice is Kiambu County, which was assisted by the UN-Habitat to analyse ways of generating revenue. In ‘Scoping Analysis of Revenue Generating Capacity and Potential of Kiambu County, Kenya 2013′, the UN-Habitat presented very crucial recommendations to assist the county government identify efficient ways of collecting revenue.

The recommendations included inviting investors by allocating land to them. It also introduces legislation that will make investment in the county easier and friendlier. Therefore, it is not that counties don’t have the opportunity to increase their revenue base, the problem is more in managing the available resources and maximising output from the existing potential.

Benchmarking with counties within the country will immensely help boost the ability of the counties to do better in revenue collection and development.

For example, many counties don’t have proper land registry systems. I would call these the low-hanging fruits. One way of quickly generating revenue is by operationalising the land registry. People want title deeds to access credit from financial institutions.

But counties must ensure that the rot at the National Land Registry is not replicated because that would mean going back to where we started. Counties could also compete and market themselves individually as destinations for visitors, investors, students and workers.

I have visited various places in the last two years and I have not felt a great deal of a difference between the places.I don’t see something that invites me to, let us say, invest in the scenic Elgeyo Marakwet or Baringo or in Mombasa or in Kisumu or Laikipia. Anything means less tax, an assurance of security and clean, unpolluted air. A few have tried, but more needs to be done nonetheless.

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Mr. Guleid is the Deputy Governor, Isiolo County

Kisumu Education Fair

The  team are bringing to the lakeside city of Kisumu an education fair on March 30-31, 2015 @ Aga Khan Hall, Kisumu.

Keep it here for more updates.

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