H.E. James Ongwae' s speech during Jamhuri Day Celebrations at the Gusii Stadium


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Ladies and Gentlemen:
As you are aware, our county lost five gallant sons and daughters in the Mandera Massacre two weeks ago. Before I proceed further with my remarks, I ask you to join me in observing a moment of silence as we remember and honour the victims of this terrorist attack.


I am delighted to join you on this auspicious occasion when we commemorate Jamhuri Day. This is a significant day in our national calendar that reminds us of the time in 1964 when Kenya attained her full independence from colonial rule.


I would like to extend my warm greetings to all Kisii County residents and I thank the general public, who left their houses, out of a sense of patriotism, to celebrate this day.


Today is not just a day for remembering the day our dear republic was born; it is also a day for paying tribute to the Founding Fathers and the gallant men and women who toiled to give freedom and nationhood to this land of our birth.


As we acknowledge the crucial role independence heroes played in our country’s history, we must remember that the greatest honour that we can accord them is to espouse the high ideals they envisioned for the country.


It is because of the courage, self-determination and dignity that they displayed that we stand here today to commemorate the birth of this nation.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Independence brought with it many prospects and opportunities as well as responsibilities. Our founding fathers advised us to use whatever abilities and advantages at our disposal to increase the prosperity of the country.


I wish to echo their sentiments. I wish to reiterate my pledge as Governor that I will make full use of the advantages our county has to actualize our dream of transforming into a middle-income economy.


Governance is a shared responsibility. Government can and will provide the necessary social infrastructure and incentives, but unless we take collective ownership of the challenges that face us, unless we show a strong commitment to be part of the solution, our efforts will come to nothing.


I invite you once more, to join me in this venture of socio-economic transformation by pledging to believe in, to sacrifice and work for the betterment of this great county.


Currently, in Kisii County, we are confronted with many challenges. We are grappling with unemployment, food insecurity, poverty and disease.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
In the past 19 months of our nascent government’s existence, we have fully institutionalized our governance structure in readiness to deliver service to the people. Over the past one and a half years, we have made significant strides in overcoming the challenges that we face.


Indeed, our desire is to ensure our people enjoy the fruits of devolution as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 by bringing services closer to them.


In this regard, I wish to state that we are firmly focused on implementing our development agenda as detailed in the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).


Ladies and Gentlemen:
In the area of health services, my Government continues to invest heavily in preventive and curative healthcare in our quest to promote in every respect, the individual citizen’s right to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare.


As I indicated recently, the Kisii Hospital has now become a Teaching and Referral Hospital. We have finalized the necessary protocols to have Kisii University set up a school of medicine at the facility.

Already, we have inaugurated a management board chaired by renowned scholar Prof. Isaac Kibwage and my Government is modernizing facilities at the hospital including installing state of the art diagnostic machines, construction of a 150-bed ward, a modern mortuary, a pharmacy store and a new parking lot.


To ease congestion at the Kisii Hospital and improve healthcare services in the Sub Counties, we have set aside KShs.150 million to improve infrastructure at Nduru, Kenyenya, Iyabe, Marani, and Masimba Level Four Hospitals.


We have set up a Ward Development Fund (WDF) of KShs. 135 million with each ward getting KShs.3million that will be used to rehabilitate health centres and dispensaries.


Regarding Human Resource Management for our health sector, we have recruited 300 personnel among them clinical officers, nurses, medical lab technologists and anesthetists.


Further, we are in the process of hiring more doctors especially in the specialized services to fully operationalize Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.


Further, we have set aside KShs.40million for the social protection programme to improve access to healthcare.
This will be used to pay National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) subscription for the elderly poor in the county.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
I thank the Beyond Zero Foundation for selecting Kisii County as a beneficiary of a fully kitted mobile clinic for purposes of HIV control and improvement of Maternal and Child Health.


I am glad to report that we have since received a second clinic donated by CARE Kenya. The two Mobile Clinics will enable our healthcare staff to reach our people especially in the remote parts of the county. The health services department has identified and posted medical staff to work in the Mobile Clinics and is developing an operational schedule to ensure coordinated service delivery to all.

A week ago, the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital organized a weeklong free medical camp that attracted thousands of patients from all over the country.


I thank the 25 specialist doctors who attended to the patients conducting corrective surgeries to those who needed it. I urge Kenyans of goodwill to sponsor such medical camps to avail the much-needed healthcare for our people.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Turning to Roads, Public Works and Transport, we have prioritized infrastructure development throughout the county.


In the past one-year, we built over 500km of roads up to compacted murram standard, easing transport problems in rural areas.


In this financial year, we plan to do another 500km of compacted gravel roads spread across all 45 wards and tenders were recently advertised in local dailies. We have also finalized mechanisms for making the road works labour intensive thus creating jobs for the youth and women.


To boost efficiency in road construction, my Government has acquired equipment including graders, drum rollers, excavators, tippers, shovels and bulldozers that are available to contractors on hire. We intend to purchase additional equipment to supplement the existing ones.


I am glad to announce that we have established a road maintenance unit that will conduct routine maintenance all year round and already, we have drafted a maintenance policy to guide the operations of the unit.


My Government remains concerned over the state of urban roads particularly in Kisii Town. These roads are still managed by the National Government and we have waited for too long to have them repaired. As a County Government, we have decided to repair them and already, we have advertised a tender for the Gusii Stadium-Suneka by pass. We expect works to begin in the next one month. Additionally, we shall build the Makutano-Getare Junction road.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Agriculture remains the backbone of our county’s economy. Indeed, our vision as a County Government is to promote food security through sustainable agricultural growth.


Blessed with abundant rainfall and fertile soils, our county has been self-sufficient in food production over the years. However, intensive land sub division for inheritance purposes has reduced land sizes to uneconomical portions leading to declining food production and currently, our poverty index stands at 51 per cent.


Indeed, a recent survey ranked our county as among those that are food insecure where only 34 per cent of households enjoy food security.
To redress this, my Government through the department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative Development is implementing strategies to ensure food security including adoption of new technologies like greenhouses and tissue culture banana farming.


We shall establish satellite cereal depots in all Sub Counties to facilitate provision and distribution of farm inputs. Farmers will be provided with soil testing kits to help manage soil fertility.


Turning to the area of value addition, I would like to see farmer groups and cooperatives venture into not only value addition, but also into branding, packaging and marketing. Only then can we create jobs and boost earnings to farmers.


We are modernizing our Agricultural Extension Service to allow farmers access it through use of Short Messaging Service (SMS), our County Website and other media platforms.


To boost earnings in the sugarcane sub sector, I am happy to report that the Kisii County Assembly recently passed a bill and we have done public participation on the planned excision of land from Nyangweta Forest. The contractor will be on site in the next two weeks.


On the area of agricultural inputs, we are concerned that the prices remain high and that the quality of seed available to farmers is not good. We are working on a bill to be tabled in the County Assembly with a view to subsidize these critical inputs. We are streamlining the input supply and distribution system to eradicate counterfeit products.


To ensure access to quality inputs ahead of the next planting season, we have finalized plans to purchase 36,000 bags of subsidized inputs (seed and fertilizer) to supplement what is provided by the National Government.


Further, I note that coffee prices have improved drastically and to ensure farmers reap maximum returns from this sector, we have set up a committee to implement recommendations of the Coffee Taskforce in our broad plan to revitalize cooperatives in the county.


Ladies and gentlemen:
Turning to trade and industry, we are determined to transform Kisii County into a middle-income economy so as to create jobs for our young people, ensure food security, and provide quality education and healthcare among other services.


As part of youth and women empowerment, we have set aside KShs.33 million for the Kisii County Credit Scheme and already a Bill has been prepared for debate in the County Assembly to operationalize the disbursement of these funds. We expect to roll out this program early next year and ultimately, this revolving fund will be increased to KShs.90 million to ensure each ward receives KShs.2 million.


In this financial year, we are refurbishing three markets at Ramasha, Nyakoe and Etago while construction of markets at Itibo and Marani is ongoing. Further, each ward has been allocated funds for the renovation of an existing market or construction of a new market.


Turning to Daraja Mbili Market, we are modernizing the facility at a cost of KShs.600 million in partnership with the National Government.


Architectural designs and bills of quantities have already been done. To ease congestion at the market and improve working conditions of traders, we are constructing a parking lot for the market across the river. Traders will access it using a footbridge to be constructed this year.


In tourism, I am happy to report we successfully held the Miss Tourism Kisii County competition where a university student was crowned the winner. My Government will support projects initiated by the winner.


We have also mapped out all tourist sites and products including soapstone. We intend to protect this stone and in this regard, a bill has been tabled in the County Assembly for necessary debate and approvals.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
In the area of Education, Labour, ICT and Manpower Development, I am proud to report that we continue to break new ground as we strive to actualize our manifesto and County Integrated Development Plan.


Although education is not a fully devolved function, we have instituted deliberate measures to see that the county gets involved in matters of education.


In this financial year, we plan to build more ECDE classrooms; workshops in youth polytechnics; procure and distribute teaching and learning materials; recruit instructors for our youth polytechnics; and equip our polytechnics with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.


To boost transition rates, we have established the County Bursary Fund with KShs.90 million leading to each ward receiving KShs.1 million in the last financial year.


This kitty will be tripled in the current financial year to KShs.135 million, with each ward set to receive KShs.3 million for the bright and needy students.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Turning to Culture, South, Sports and Social Services, we have made significant strides.


It is worth noting that some of the functions in this sector are still with the national government meaning we cannot initiate any activities as funds for this are with the national government. This notwithstanding, we have initiated a number of projects including the construction of youth empowerment centres at Kenyenya and Keumbu which are ongoing.


To boost literacy among our people, my Government is building community libraries at Kenyenya and Ogembo Towns. We also intend to put in place a library at Kiamokama.


The Zephaniah Anyieni library at Kenyenya is nearly complete and we expect schools in these areas to benefit from these libraries once complete.
As I indicated recently, we have embarked on a major upgrade of sports facilities in the county starting with the Gusii Stadium. In the first phase, we are renovating the stadium up to international standards to allow us generate revenue and this includes construction of a perimeter fence, three new pavilions, new toilets, offices and changing rooms as well as a separate warm-up field to ensure the facility meets international standards.
Once complete, the facility will host games for Shabana FC that recently returned to the topflight league. We shall have a sitting with Shabana FC officials to discuss the way forward.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
My government appreciates the importance of water in the socio-economic development of our county.
In a bid to boost access to clean, safe drinking water within reasonable walking distances, we have entered into a Public, Private Partnership with Scope International to drill 45 boreholes across the county with each ward getting one borehole. Drilling is currently ongoing and four boreholes at Kebere, Kenyorora, Kianyabinge and Borangi are complete.


The boreholes will be fitted with hand pumps but ultimately, they will be developed into water schemes to ensure each household in the county has access to reticulated water.


In this financial year, we shall revive stalled water schemes at Riokindo and Birongo and rehabilitate water supplies at Masabo, Nyaore, Ogembo and Nyamache among others.


In the last financial year, we protected at least five springs per ward and a similar number will be protected this financial year.
In Kisii Town, we continue to face challenges in water supply due to an ageing supply system that was installed back in 1932.


The reticulation system from Kegati and Nyakomisaro intakes is dilapidated occasioning underground leaks that ultimately affect the quantity and quality of water available to residents.


To address this, the German Bank (KFW) will invest KShs.1.2 billion to rehabilitate and expand the water supply system in Kisii and Nyamira Counties. The rehabilitation work starts early next year and will include modernization of the existing intakes at Kegati and Nyakomisaro as well as re-laying the pipeline to reduce wastage and improve the supply capacity.


With the help of the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation Agency, we are restructuring Gusii Water and Sanitation Company to enable it provide services in both urban and rural towns.


In the interim, we are exploring possibilities of boosting water reticulation in Kisii Town through gravity from Getenga, Nyaura and Nyakobaria hills.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Ladies and gentlemen, on the area of Lands, Urban Development and Physical Planning, we have a number of projects that relate to street lighting, solid waste management and decongesting Kisii Town.


In the area of street lighting and security program, we have elaborate plans for lighting up Kisii Town and other outlying urban centres.


For Kisii Town, we have a two-pronged approach where the existing streetlights powered from the national power grid have been rehabilitated. We have also installed eight (8) high mast streetlights popularly known as Mulika Mwizi at designated areas to boost security.


To supplement the existing street lighting system in Kisii Town, we entered a Public, Private Partnership with an investor who is has installed 200 solar powered streetlights from Daraja Mbili to Daraja Moja and in Kisii Town’s CBD. In the sub counties, installation of Mulika Mwizi street lights is almost complete.


On the decongestion of Kisii Town, we have put in place measures among them training and re-routing of boda boda operators to manage their movement in town, in line with recommendations of a task force I formed early this year. I extend my appreciation to the leadership of bodaboda operators in Kisii Town for their cooperation in this endeavor.


In the last financial year, we opened up several urban roads within Kisii Town. In this financial year, we are opening up backstreet roads among them;
• Gudka-Christamarriane junction
• Ram Hospital-Rehema Academy
• Dados Hotel-Nyachae Flats
• Tuskys - Ram Hospital and;
• Roads behind Kenya Commercial Bank and Gusii Deluxe within the CBD.


This will not only improve access in the town but also help in disaster management particularly facilitate our fire engines access fire incident scenes.


Regarding solid waste management, we have completed the acquisition of a waste disposal site for Ogembo Town and, finalized the process of buying land for a dumpsite in Kisii Town.


Further, we have purchased an exhauster, which will be available on hire to help manage solid waste disposal. We have also bought two refuse compactors and collection bins to enhance waste management in the county.


On Physical planning, we have finalized the physical and urban development plan for Nyamache Town and the same has been forwarded to the County Assembly for necessary approval.


The development of a physical and urban development plan for Ogembo Town is underway and it will be available in digital format.


However, we are faced with serious challenges in accessing land meant for public utilities because most of it has been irregularly acquired or put into other uses. An analysis of the status of land in the county done early this year indicated that 77 plots have been irregularly acquired.


This report has been handed over to the National Lands Commission for further investigations, with recommendations from the County Government to revoke the certificate of leases issued in respect of the said plots.


Ladies and gentlemen:
On the area of disaster preparedness:
I note that our County has experienced a number of fire incidents in the past few weeks leading to loss of property.

While our fire department is doing its best to respond to emergencies like fire incidents, the fact that most buildings in Kisii Town lack disaster preparedness is a worry.

Most buildings lack fire extinguishers; fire exits and even way leaves making it difficult for our firefighters to access the buildings. I have instructed my officers to ensure all buildings in town comply with fire safety regulations.


To ensure the county government is prepared in the face of disasters like fires and accidents, we plan to build a disaster response station at a cost of KShs.30 million to house the fire engines.


Ladies and gentlemen, in the area of revenue collection:
I wish to remind our people that all these planned developments require substantial financial resources.


Indeed, Article 207 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides that the capacity of counties to carry out their functions is dependent on their ability to collect revenue.


To ensure prudent financial management, planning and budgeting, we have automated the revenue collection system for Kisii Town parking. I urge those of you who use this service to be true patriots by dutifully paying your dues and those who collect to faithfully remit what you collect to the county treasury.


The Kisii County Finance Bill, 2014 was passed in the County Assembly and it has mapped out existing and new revenue sources for the county.
In conclusion, allow me to make a comment on the security situation in the country.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our sovereignty has been tested; the freedom that the founders of this great nation fought for is slowly becoming an illusion and this must be a concern for everybody.


As the Council of Governors, we commend the efforts of the National Government in ensuring the safety of our people. However, insecurity has claimed the lives of innocent Kenyans. Ruhilla Adatia lost her life in Westgate, Karisa Thoya died in Mpeketoni, Violent Moranga and Dennis Nyakemba died in Mandera, Ezekiel Chege was murdered in Kapedo.


These are just a few of the many Kenyans who have lost their innocent lives across the country. Our hearts go out to their families.


It will take our collective effort to guarantee the security of our Nation and it cannot be left to the National Government alone. It will take cooperation, collaboration and more importantly consultation between the two Governments.


Our contribution as your Governors to finding a lasting solution, we are ready to provide administrative support and resources where needed to enhance the stability of this nation. In accordance with section 54 (6) of the County Governments Act, 2012, we urge the National Government to engage our leadership through formal consultative forums that will enable the two levels of Government share security briefs regularly and consistently if we are to safeguard our borders and the right of our people to a secure environment in which to live and work.


Ladies and Gentlemen:
Finally, I take this chance to wish all Kisii County residents, those in diaspora and all Kenyans blessed holidays, a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Let us remember the less fortunate in our festive activities.


I wish you all happy Jamhuri Day celebrations. God Bless Kisii County.


I thank you!