Monthly Archives: April 2011

Rush for gold claims three lives at Rosterman in kakamega town

Thursday, April 14, 2011  By Chris Mahandara.

Three people yesterday evening suffocated and died on the spot in a gold mine at Rosterman in Kakamega town. Elly Omondi 43, Cosmus Muteshi 28 and Maxwell Wanyonyi 23 met their death at 5p.m while draining water from a gold mine tunnel. Three others, George Simwa 33, Andrew Shilongo 43 and Joel Lukalia 24 were rescued by members of the public and rushed to Kakamega Provincial General Hospital for treatment. Andrew Shilongo who survived the incident said the miners had spotted a Gold bar deep in the tunnel and were using a generator to pump water out of the tunnel in order to remove the gold. The generator which was inside the tunnel, he said suddenly went off and the site manager Elly Omondi went down to fix it. He was however engulfed in carbon monoxide emitted by the generator and fell unconscious. It is here that Cosmus Muteshi and Maxwell Wanyonyi went down the tunnel to rescue him but also got suffocated. Two others went in to rescue them but due to lack of oxygen they were unable to complete the mission. Speaking from his hospital bed, Shilongo said he went into the tunnel with a rope and managed to tie two of his colleagues and pulled them out. “By this time the three had already died and there is nothing we could have done,” he said. Police led by Kakamega Central Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Mr. Joseph Omijah rushed to the scene and with the help of members of the public managed to retrieve the three bodies from the 50 ft shaft and took them to Kakamega general Hospital mortuary. The OCPD urged area residents to keep off from the gold mines until proper safety measures are put in place. Protus Jamhuri a gold miner appealed to the government not to slap a ban on the exercise since it was the only source of income for area residents. Jamhuri further urged the government and development partners to assist the miners with modern equipment to ensure that they undertake the exercise safely. On a bad day, the miners at the ill-fated site collect a minimum of 10 grams of gold daily which earns them Sh. 25, 000 if sold locally in Kakamega town. Jamhuri said in 2008, the miners got a gold bar worth Sh. 12 million adding that the area was endowed with gold and with support from the government the miners stand to benefit. Gold mining in Kakamega District was started by a British company, Rosterman Gold Mines, incorporated and licensed in January 1935 to prospect and mine gold ores. With a capital of Ksh400,000, the company pitched camp three kilometers East of Kakamega. By the time it closed down operations in June 1952, it had milled about 655,000 tones of ore and produced over 259,000 ounces of gold, with a market value estimated to be about Ksh4 billion. Rosterman gold mines remains the biggest commercial firm to mine in Western Kenya. Since the exit of the British company, the interest in exploring gold deposits has been left for area residents and other small-scale miners. Experts believe that huge gold deposits and other minerals still remain embedded underneath the rocks in the province. This has renewed enthusiasm, and the once peaceful and sleepy village is now on a gold rush. Most of them have now underpinned all their hopes for better living on the elusive money-making gem. The renewed gusto in the trade has also reopened doors for companies who are now making camouflaged inroads into the gold project.


Lift ban on omena, government asked

KAKAMEGA    Thursday, April 07, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

Fishermen in Bunyala District of Busia County have appealed to the government to lift the ban on fishing of omena.

They said fish was a major economic activity in the area adding that following months of a dry spell they had nothing else to live on.

Speaking to KNA, Siaya County Council Chairman Aggrey Onyango asked police officers to stop harassing fishermen but give them time to look for alternative sources of income.

The annual ban on fishing of omena normally lasts from April to August to allow breeding of the omena.

Mr. Onyango said the ban would worsen food security in the area following the prolonged drought that affected all the districts in the lake region.

He added that it was unfair to deny Kenyan fishermen the opportunity yet their counterparts in Uganda continue to fish omena uninterrupted.

He appealed to the Kenyan government to consult with the Ugandan government over the issue.


Administration Police Officer embarks on an 8 days walk to raise blood

KAKAMEGA              Thursday, April 07, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

An administration police officer has organized a walk from Kakamega town to Nakuru to sensitize Kenyans on the need to donate blood.

Kakamega District administration police commandant Mr. Francis Kooli will walk from Kakamega making stop over’s at Mbale, Kisumu, Nyando, Kericho, Molo, Elburgon and Njoro.

He is expected to sensitize the communities at the towns on the need to donate blood regularly to replenish blood banks in the region.

The Kenya Red Cross and the Ministry of medical services will be on sight to collect blood and take to respective blood banks in Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces.

Western Provincial Commissioner Mr. Samuel Kilele will flag off the walk at the historic Muliro gardens on 11th then proceed for a blood donation drive at Mbale in Vihiga County.

The walk, a brainchild of Kooli is also aimed at changing the perception of the police and let members of the public know that they are also human beings.

“I want to enhance partnership between police and members of the public to let them know we are also human beings with feelings,” he said.

In an interview with KNA, Kooli said administration police are first aiders adding that the incidents they are exposed to in the event of a disaster or an accident motivated him to embark on the walk.

It will take him eight days to complete the walk which he says targets to raise at least 2, 500 pints of blood.

He said parents have abdicated the duty of donating blood to their children who donate while in school leading to an acute shortage of blood during school holidays.

Currently there is an acute shortage of blood in Western and Nyanza provinces. Koome appealed to Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and help reach the target so as to save lives.

Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugwa is expected to participate in the exercise at Nakuru on 18th of this month.



KEMSA to set up a commercial division to supplement government’s effort to supply drugs

KAKAMEGA         Thursday, April 07, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) is in the process of establishing a commercial division to supplement government’s efforts of procuring, warehousing and distribution of drugs.

KEMSA Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Munyu said Sh. 2.5 billion is required to have the division operational.

Dr. Munyu disclosed that KEMSA has already received Sh. 600 million from the World Bank for the project adding that the board would source for funds from other development partners to ensure the division is in place by September this year.

Once established, he said the division would procure drugs and medical commodities which the government is unable to procure through its budgetary allocation and in turn sell to public health facilities at a subsidized price.

This, he said would help the facilities save money for other development projects since in the event of a shortage they are forced to buy the drugs from private organizations at exorbitant prices.

The private division, he said will not duplicate the normal government procurement and supply chain of drugs to public health facilities.

Instead, the division through donor support would procure drugs and health commodities which the government is unable to purchase and deliver to public health facilities on request at a subsidized price.

Dr. Munyu who was flanked by KEMSA deputy chairman Mr. Cyprian Owiti and other board members made the remarks in Kakamega during the organization’s tour of western province.

KEMSA, he said has embarked on a national wide tour to assess its facilities and gauge its performance on the ground.

The tour, he added was a fact finding mission to help restructure KEMSA to be in line with the devolved system of government. Currently KEMSA has only eight regional depots.

Dr. Munyu said KEMSA would work hand in hand with the provincial administration and other government departments to identify land to establish facilities in all the 47 counties to bring services closer to the people.

He pointed out pilferation of drugs as a major challenge urging the government to enforce security at all KEMSA facilities to ensure that drugs bought by public money are not stolen.


Farmers urge WARMA to write off a Sh. 74 million debt.

Kakamega  Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Chris Mahandara

Farmers in Bunyala division of Budalangi district have appealed to the government to waiver a Sh. 74 million debt owed to the Water Resources Management Board (WARMA).

The farmers also want the government to explain how the debt accrued saying they are not aware of any such debt.

Led by Port of Victoria County Council Chairman Aggrey Onyango, the farmers said they would petition the government to cancel the debt.

However the Director of Water Resources in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation Mr. John Rao Nyaoro said the debt must be cleared urging the farmers to stop using ignorance as an excuse.

He said through a legal notice of 2007 WARMA charges 50 cents per 1, 000 litres of water used for commercial purposes to manage and conserve catchment areas.

Speaking at Bunyala in Budalangi constituency yesterday, Nyaoro said since the act came into force, the farmers who use water for irrigation have not paid a single cent leading to the Sh. 74 million debt.

The charges, he said were effected since all water catchment areas in the country were neglected and degraded reducing water levels.

Since the enactment of the law, he added water users associations have been formed and are given money by WARMA for technical support on how to manage and conserve water catchment areas for sustainability.

He added that the money collected from commercial users of water is also given to water users associations to establish tree nurseries, buy seedlings and plant trees to attract rain and conserve the environment.

Those who have complied with the regulation, he said have started seeing the benefits since they have water round the clock for commercial use.

“We charge Sh. 450 only for irrigating one acre of maize which in turn produces 40 bags of maize,” he said.

This, he observed was beneficial to the farmers since they can grow crops throughout the year and reap the benefits.

He asked the farmers majority of them from the Bunyala Irrigation Scheme where they grow rice to clear the debt and allow the government to facilitate the conservation of water catchments in the area.

Five chiefs installed

Kakamega Tuesday, April 5, 2011

As a way of assuring chiefs that their jobs are protected under the new constitution, Western Provincial Commissioner (PC) Mr. Samuel Kilele yesterday installed five chiefs in Sabatia district.

The PC assured the chiefs and their assistants that the government recognizes the role they play in maintaining peace and fostering national development.

Speaking after installing the chiefs at Gaigedi market in the district, the PC urged them to serve the community with diligence, trust and transparency to redeem the image of their offices which was tarnished during the past regimes.

“This is a new dawn, with a new constitution and a new people therefore we must operate within the confines of the law,” said the administrator.

The chiefs who were serving as assistant chiefs were promoted to the rank in Job Group J and would be charged with the responsibility of coordinating government programmes at their respective locations.

Stop defending yourselves in public, Ocampo six told

Kakamega Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

A Cabinet Minister and two legislators from western Kenya have urged the six post election violence suspects to desist from defending themselves in public but prepare to argue their case at The Hague.

Lands Minister James Orengo said the suspects must let the International Criminal Court do its work adding that if they are found not guilty the court shall set them free.

Speaking yesterday at Bunyala in Budalangi Constituency, Orengo said nobody was above the law adding that the trial would serve as an example to other Kenyans to uphold the rule of law.

Alego Usonga MP Edwin Yinda appealed to the suspects to remain calm since defending themselves in public was likely to make people and the court believe that they are actually guilty.

This, he said might just work against them because some of the sympathetic judges may change their minds.

“Let them go and defend themselves. If they are clean they will come back and if they are guilty let them serve their sentences and we shall still welcome them back home,” said the MP.

Budalangi Member of Parliament (MP) Ababu Namwamba said those making noise over the issue refused to support the formation of a local tribunal to try the suspects asking them to let the ICC conclude the matter.

ODM, he said has no scores to settle with the suspects but wants to see a fair trial and justice for the post election violence victims.

The legislator drummed support for Prime Minister Raila Odinga saying he was the only leader focused on developing the country.

He took issue with Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa who has declared interest in the top seat saying he was not trustworthy.

He said the MP was riding on his late brother’s name asking him not to tarnish the name of the late Wamalwa credited for his fight for the second liberation.

Speaking during the same occasion, Water Minister Charity Ngilu called for mature politics as the country gears towards the 2012 general elections.

He castigated leaders moving around the country to preach politics of division saying the move was likely to bring acrimony into the country.

World Bank allocates Sh. 2.2 billion to Lower River Nzoia Irrigation Development Project

Kakamega Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The World Bank has allocated Sh2.2 billion towards the construction of an irrigation project in the Lower River Nzoia basin in Western Kenya.

The project dubbed Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development Project would be implemented by the National Irrigation Board.

It is expected to cover Ugunja district in Ugenya constituency, Siaya district in Alego Usonga constituency and Budalangi district in Budalangi constituency a total of 10, 000 acres.

The project will use gravity for the flow of water from Ulawe water intake point to benefit over 40,000 residents.

Speaking yesterday during the launch of the project at St. Anne’s Bunyala Girls Secondary School in Budalangi constituency, Water and Irrigation Minister Charity Ngilu said the project would boost food production in the area.

She added that the project would also provide a solution to floods that have dogged Budalangi for many years.

A feasibility study, she said has already been conducted adding that farmers would be able to grow a variety of crops among them maize, sim sim, arrow roots, potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables for domestic consumption and export.

The government, she said would work hand in hand with the community to ensure that the project is implemented fully.

She said all sensitization workshops on the project would be done in the area to ensure that the money is not wasted.

Lands Minister James Orengo who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ugenya said all leaders from the three constituencies would work together to ensure that the project is completed.

He said the project could not have come at a better time since farmers would be able to grow crops throughout the year and boost their income.

Alego Usonga Member of Parliament (MP) Edwin Yinda urged leaders to stick to the memorandum of understanding that saw the project launched to reap full benefits.

He said the project would boost food production in the area and assist farmers venture into agribusiness and empower themselves economically.

Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said the project would enhance peaceful coexistence between communities living in the three constituencies.

He however urged the government to compensate all the farmers whose property would be affected by the construction of canals.

This, he said would reduce conflict and ensure effective implementation of the project to benefit the communities.

He further urged the NIB to show leadership and desist from inviting stakeholders to posh hotels for seminars but meet them in the field to cut on expenses and channel three quarters of the money into the project.

The MP said the Sh. 6 billion West Kenya Flood Mitigation Project launched in 2007 collapsed due to poor leadership and excessive workshops abroad saying area residents would not entertain such ventures in this project.