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With Mike Ochieng 

Details have emerged that Siaya Governor James Orengo launched a falsified County Land Use Plan (2023) to grab land belonging to vulnerable people without offering adequate compensation. The Governor wilfully made a pretence of launching a new document in the 2023-2032 Land Use Plan when in reality he was using a re-edited similar document issued in 2018.

The proposed Siaya Aggregation Industrial Park is situated on Got Akara, Ndai village of Central Alego on private parcels of land. Initially, the County Government had proposed the construction of the Governor and his Deputy’s residences on the same parcel before it was forcefully expanded to include land obtained without adequate compensation.

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Siaya County has only one gazetted game reserve which is Lake Kanyaboli National Game Reserve under the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS). Due to political gambling, the game reserve is yet to be fully developed to attract more tourists to the high potential of its location.

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An Industrial Park located less than 2km from the game reserve, with the commensurate factors of environmental pollution, will impact negatively on this ecosystem.

Where is the Environmental Impact Assessment Report for this Project? (If any was carried out).

Were the local landowners compensated for their land at market value?

What happened to Got Akara people’s petition to Governor Orengo and the County Assembly?

Were the proper guidelines for land acquisition followed?

Governor James Aggrey Bob Orengo and by extension, the Siaya County Government have willingly subverted the will of the people as they contravened the following principles:

Principle 1: Involuntary resettlement should be avoided, or minimized where unavoidable. Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) has to be done considering the potential environmental impacts, capital and recurrent costs, suitability under local conditions, and acceptability by neighbouring land users, among other pertinent factors. That enhances the project design thereby reducing the anticipated impacts.

In disregard, the Siaya County Government is imposing mortuary and dumpsite projects on people’s private land unawares through fake county physical plans.

Principle 2: Displaced persons should be meaningfully consulted, and participate in planning and implementation of resettlement programs. This is done to ensure that genuine consultations and fair as well as equitable set of compensation options are fully incorporated.

Principle 3: Pre-resettlement baseline data must be established. An environmental and social impact assessment study must be carried out by the Siaya County Government.

Principle 4: Resettled persons should be assisted with the move and provided with support during the transition period. It must thus be necessary to develop a log frame for the project and agree with other stakeholders on the proposed timeframe.

Principle 5: A fair and equitable set of compensation options must be negotiated. Displaced persons must be compensated for their losses at full replacement cost. With proper valuation determine the cost estimates, land acquisition and compensation for structures, crops, trees, etc.

Principle 6: Where resettlement is unavoidable, resettlement plans and activities should be executed as a development that ensures the Project Affected People (PAP) benefit. An extensive public consultation process must form part of the RAP study to provide an opportunity to all the communities in the areas where the proposed Project is expected to be implemented. This will allow the displaced to raise issues and concerns about the project, and allow the identification of alternatives and recommendations.

Principle 8: Resettlement must be seen as an upfront project cost. The valuation determines the cost estimates and enables the Siaya County Government to make arrangements for the inclusion of the Resettlement component in the project budget before implementation.  This simply means people are paid before, not after, the project is launched.

Principle 9: An independent monitoring and grievance procedure must take place.

All the above principles were willfully neglected by the County Government and its Representatives thereby making the Siaya Aggregation Industrial Park project an illegal pursuit.

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