Tolgos - Changwony handshake goodies

Governor Alex Tolgos  poses for a photo with officials from South-South International Trade Promotion Centre after signing to promote contractual farming in the County.

The County government of Elgeyo Marakwet has entered into partnership with a Consortium of International investors to promote contractual farming and stepping up value addition arrangements.

Governor Alex Tolgos hosted his former political rival in the gubernatorial race Mr Moses Changwony who led a delegation of the investors to the Governor on Saturday at his Iten Town County offices.

Speaking after signing a Memorandum of Understanding MOU to seal the deal with the investors, Tolgos said:"In the Spirit of embracing the famous Handshake with former political competitors, this is one of the fruits of the 'Handshake’ between myself and Mr Changwony that is going to benefit our people immensely,"

He said he shook hands with Mr Changwony after the heated 2017 politics and thereafter the two shelved their differences.

Since the Governor promised to support any idea that would offer solutions towards poverty eradication in the County and exploring wealth creation opportunities, the two leaders agreed to work together.

Mr Changwony said his team of investors was seeking serious farmers sensitization campaign in Elgeyo Marakwet to put about 12,000 acres of farmland under cultivation of cash crops promoted by the agency.

These crops include high value Tea, Coffee, Avocado, Macadamia, Mango and nuts.

"We are targeting at least 3,000 acres of land in every sub-county in Elgeyo Marakwet. Farms in this county particularly Kerio valley and the escarpments are known to be the best areas where these crops perform very well,"said Changwony, adding that the agency will supply farmers with free high value seeds.

The former Sasini Tea company Chief Executive Officer said the investors will establish factories in the county for purposes of processing the produce before export.

"There is a guarantee market for these cash crops in Asia. We are very certain about the market. What will only be required is a consistent supply," said Changwony.

Tolgos said virtually every crop does very well in Elgeyo Marakwet because of the composition of the Highlands, the hanging valleys and the Kerio valley which were endowed with different climatic conditions favorable for various farming activities, sufficient rainfall and fertile soil. 

He said his government will sensitize farmers to embrace the contractual farming concept, though farmers would later commit themselves to the partnership with the agency.

With the coming up of two mega multi-purpose dams undertaken by the national government in Keiyo South and Marakwet West which are expected to provide water for irrigation, the Governor said chances for farmers embracing the promoted crops were very high.

The officials of the agency Mr Benny Wijaya (China) Layla Yusuf (Italy) and Abdulahi Mohammed representing (Juba Valley group) assured the meeting that every crop they promoted had a guarantee Market.

South-South International Trade Promotion Centre is a Legal institution established in Shanghai, China, a Pilot Free Trade Zone.

The meeting was attended by Members of County Assembly MCAs Zachariah Magut, (Soy North), Jonah Tanui (Soy South) and John Yator (Emsoo) alongside County Executive Committees CECs for Agriculture and Irrigation, Shadrack Yatich, Finance and Economic Planning, Isaac Kamar, Health and Sanitation, Kiprono Chepkok and Chief of Staff Mr Kimwetich Barmaasai.

Governor Tolgos moves to calm compensation fears

Governor Alex Tolgos speaks on Fluorspar Mining company compensation in Kimwarer, Keiyo South.

The national government's planned compensation arrangements for people displaced by Fluorspar Mining company in Keiyo South has attracted the concern of both the beneficiaries and the local leadership.

Governor Alex Tolgos attended a public baraza convened by the area MP Daniel Rono in Sugutek, Kimwarer location to deliberate on the slow pace of the implementation.

According to the Governor, there was need for the community to harmonise their preferred choices between those who wanted money for land compensation and those who opted for land for land arrangement.

"We appreciate that Land compensation issues are usually emotive and therefore the process shouldn’t be rushed anyway" said the Governor. 

Instead, he said the over 4,000 identified beneficiaries should be in agreement with the process before the commencement of payment.

The community around Kimwarer has decried fears over delays and uncertainty but the leaders assured them of the government's commitment. 

"We are hopeful that your long wait for justice will eventually bear fruit," Tolgos told the meeting.

The meeting was attended by Soy South Member of County Assembly MCA Jonah Tanui and County Executive for Water, Environment and Natural Resources Abraham Barsosio.

Leaders Moses Changwony and Micah Kigen vowed to join the community in their push for meaningful compensation that conform to the current competitive land market prices.

The National Land Commission NLC which has been overseeing the implementation asked for more time to finalise issues surrounding the process before it makes official communication to the community.

Mining lease for Kenya Fluorspar company expired on March 31, 2018 and was not renewed.

The firm exited site early this year, and the government has been keen to leasing it to a new investor with a view to reviving mining activities.

Relief for patients as county acquires CT scan machine

CEC in-charge of Health Kiprono Chepkok, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Governor Alex Tolgos during a visit at the Iten County Referral Hospital.

Iten County Referral Hospital will receive its first CT scan machine in a month’s time, the ministry of health has announced.

Speaking during a visit at the hospital, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the hospital would soon offer services only currently available at the Eldoret based Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Iten County Referral Hospital is among 36 public health facilities that are being equipped with a CT scan machine through Ministry of Health under the Managed Equipment Services (MES).

The CT scan project is set to enable the public access to specialised services based on advanced technology at affordable cost, she added.

The CS said the medical equipment is expected to enable the facility attend a number of patients currently seeking the services at MTRH thereby easing congestion at the facility.

She noted: “Once the CT scan machines start working here, it will relieve the pressure currently witnessed at MTRH. Patients will also be relived of costs and pain as they will no longer travel for long distance.”

Governor Alex Tolgos said the move to equip the hospital with CT scan machinery was welcome since many cases related to fractures and head injuries occur in the region. “This will help reduce the burden patients go through as they seek CT scan services in Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital which according to records serves twice the number of patients it is expected to attend to,” he added.

Tolgos said the new machines will also help patients from the neighbouring counties of Baringo and West Pokot who often seek treatment in Eldoret to access the services timely owing to the congestion at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Governor Tolgos hailed for fighting alcoholism

Women rehabilitaed by Elgeyo Marakwet County make a presentation during a ceremony to honour more than 1200 reformed brewers in Iten.

The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) has recognised Governor Alex Tolgos for his efforts in fighting alcoholism in the country.

Governor Tolgos has been in the forefront in fighting second generation and illegal brew since the beginning of his first term in office which according to NACADA CEO Victor Okioma, was a big political gamble.

Speaking during a ceremony to honour more than 1200 reformed brewers in Iten, the anti-drug abuse agency boss said efforts by the governor had shown success and asked other leaders to support him.

He said: “It is encouraging to see these women today. I am happy with the county government for having thought on how to improve the lives of these mothers who were prisoners of illicit brew.”

The governor said he decided to embark on a mission to eradicate illicit brews in 2013 after a survey showed that Elgeyo Marakwet was one of the leading Counties hit by alcoholism.

He said: “It was not an easy task but we gave our best as we targeted the brewers in a bid to reduce alcohol in our villages. I received a lot of criticism but I had made the sacrifice even if it was going to affect my re-election.”

According to NACADA, more than 70 per cent of young people under the age of 29, which is a productive age group are abusing alcohol.

Tolgos said alcoholism has been a great challenge to several families which according to him has led to families braking up and many children dropped out of school as their parents are unable to raise their fees. “Many have lost their loved ones, others lost their jobs and several others rendered paupers due to the vice. These women out of our discussion said they were ready to stop brewing but the biggest challenge was an alternative source of income,” he added.

The County took the women for rehabilitation and training on alternative livelihoods at the Ukweli Training Centre in Ilula where the women picked areas they could do well back at home as a way of raising money.

While giving testimonies the women narrated how their families had been transformed since they stopped brewing.

Ruth Chepkok from Tugumoi said through support from the County of Elgeyo Marakwet, she had ventured into boda boda and baking business. “I make doughnuts (Kaa ngumu) and I am a happy woman. Nowadays my children are eating and dressing well, I am a living testimony that brewing of illicit liquor has no economic value. I am so sorry to those people whose families broke up as a result of drinking in my house,” she said.

Alice Bain, another reformed brewer from Marakwet West said looking back on her past was like a dream. “I sold changaa and busaa almost in a daily basis. But what is still surprising me is where the proceeds from the sales went to. After the rehabilitation, I can today sale eggs and milk from my farm. I am a changed woman. I ask those brewing to listen…there is hope out here,” said Mrs Bain.

The women are encouraged to form groups upon successful training in order to benefit from the government.

Anita Kimwatan, who is the CEC member for youth, sports women and social services, said the department had supported the women through poultry keeping, dairy and crop farming among other ways of income generating activities. “We have helped the women buy Posho mills, set up zero grazing units and even supplying them with tents to help them generate income,” she said during the function.

Acquire technical skills to beat unemployment

A section of the students from Chepkorio Vocational Training Centre during the graduation ceremony.

With the rising rate of lack of employment, the youth have been urged to acquire technical skills which would help them be self employed in absence of job openings.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony of more than 200 students at Chepkorio Vocational Training College in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Vocational and Technical Training (TVET) Deputy Director Irene Kamau said the government was promoting practical training that would improve youth employment in both public and private sectors.

The Deputy Director further praised Elgeyo Marakwet County for sponsoring students joining TVET institutions through bursary funds.

More than 2700 secondary, college and university students from needy families benefitted from Sh27 million bursary funds from the County.

Mrs Kamau said Technical and Vocational Education and Training is a key initiatives in achieving Vision 2030 and key to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s big four pillar. She said the government has allocated Ksh2.5 billion to support TVET institutions in the country.

“There are a lot of projects going on in the country and this is where your skills will be needed.

I urge those who have completed secondary and primary education to join the TVET’s around because the skills needed are not enough,” she said.

She cited the upcoming of Kipsaiya and Kimwarer dams as the next stop for people with technical skills in Elgeyo Marakwet. Arror dam will cost Sh38.5 billion and Kimwarer in Keiyo South Sh28 billion.

“The welders and electricians who will work on the sites will come from those of you who have graduated here today. I am impressed by the number of those who have graduated today. The technical sector still requires a lot of labour force,” she added.

Elgeyo Markwet Education and Technical Training Chief Executive Member of Education Edwin Kisang said the county had recorded a 47 percent increase in enrolment in TVET colleges in the county since the inception of devolution.

He said: “This is encouraging and as a result we have increased the number of instructors in all our 11 registered colleges.”

He said through the subsidised tuition fee the enrolment is expected to increase in the coming year which has seen the county construct more VTC across the Wards.

“We are establishing more vocational training centres to help tap the skills that would have otherwise gone to waste in the villages,” he said.