Legislators Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Paul Katana (Kaloleni), Michael Kingi (Magarini) and Teddy Mwambire (Ganze) say the national government should revert the the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme to Kilifi and Tana River counties claiming saying it has failed to sustain it.
Speaking after meeting 50 farmers' groups at Matsangoni in his constituency on Tuesday, Mr Baya termed the privatization a “well calculated scheme” to subdivide the land and sell it to prominent people in government.
“If the national government has failed to sustain the project, then it should give it back to the counties which are the custodians of the agricultural sector after it was devolved,” he said.
The MP said the plan to have the Agriculture Development Corporation (ADC) take charge of the project was uncalled for.
“ADC has a record of failed development in Kilifi County. It took more than 100, 000 acres of land in Sabaki for a livestock production project. It failed miserably and the land was eventually subdivided to wealthy people. For now, it has no capacity to develop the food project,” he said.
Mr Katana demanded an audit report of the project he said was another rip off of taxpayer’s money by the government.
“Before the project changes hands, we would like to know how the Sh7 billion released to fund it in 2016 was used. We highly believe that the money was wasted,” he said.
“We know there are cartels disguising as land buyers who are preying on the Galana-Kulalu land and they want to use ADC as their entry to grab the land. We shall use all the available means including Parliament to gag the plans,” he added.
Mr Kingi said he held a meeting with his counterpart from Garsen constituency Ali Wario and agreed to push governor Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) to have the project returned under their watch.
“I know how ADC operates. It is an institution whose credibility came to the fore after it failed to sustain the Kisiwani ADC farm in Sabaki where the land was later grabbed. We shall sit with the two governors to have them push for the retention of the project by the counties,” he said.
Mr Mwambire said the government ought to have consulted Kenyans on their privatization agenda because it was implemented with a taxpayer’s money.
“There is more than meets the eye in this whole process. The government never consulted the public on the wishes to privatize the project, making it more suspicious then earlier believed,” he said.
Last week, the government announced it will give 20,000 acres of the Galana-Kulalu project to private firms to increase the acreage under maize.
Water CS, Eugene Wamalwa, said the private firms and ADC would plant the maize in March.
It is expected that this will result in availability of two kilogramme packet of maize flour to be sold to Kenyans at Sh75 each. Currently the commodity sells at between Sh115 and Sh120.
Only 5,000 acres, out of the targeted one million have been put under crop as work is fast-tracked for completion of the remaining 4,400 acres after installation of five pumps.
The completion date of the remaining part of the irrigation infrastructure has also been revised to March from last September. The CS said construction on an additional 10,000 acres will start in August.
The National Irrigation Board (NIB), which is implementing the project, is expected to hand it over to ADC which will be fully in charge of commercial operations in the next two months.