Kenya: County Says There's No Land for Planned Webuye Industrial Park

21 January 2020

Plans to build the first ever multi-billion shillings industrial park in Bungoma are now in jeopardy after the county government disclosed that it lacks land for the project.

Whereas the investors who have shown interest in the development want 200 acres, the county government has less than 100 acres available for the project.

On Monday, the County Director of Communications Tim Machi told the Nation that there are about 90 acres of land in Webuye, part of which has been grabbed.

"Part of the county land where this project is set to be undertaken has been grabbed by leaders while others have private properties. This is the main reason why the project is yet to be implemented," said Mr Machi.

CHINESE INVESTORS

He indicated that about 50 Chinese investors had approached Governor Wycliffe Wangamati with an interest in the project but lack of adequate land had hampered their plans.

"We have been approached by over 50 Chinese investors who had requested us to provide them with about 200 acres of land around Mwananchi area in Webuye but unfortunately we only had 90 acres," said Mr Machi.

He said that the county government is racing against time to resolve the stalemate after the investors expressed willingness to set up shops immediately land is made available to them.

"You don't build an industrial park, you facilitate the building of an industrial park. The building is done by investors and we have investors who have told us what they want," Mr Machi said.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Last year, the county government announced that it had allocated Sh55 million for legal framework, feasibility study, policy formulation and public participation.

In May 2019, members of the county executive and MCAs took part in a four-day benchmarking trip to Uganda on the establishment of industrial parks.

The County Agriculture Executive Chirasha Makanda defended the Uganda trip saying that it was organised through the Ugandan High Commissioner to Kenya Phoebe Otaala as a follow-up to the 2018 tourism and culture exchange programme that saw attracted 100 delegates from Kenya.

COTTAGE INDUSTRIES

Uganda has increasingly invested in cottage industries mainly targeting agro-processing sector in order to grow its economy, address the challenge of unemployment and cut reliance on imports from Kenya, which for years fed the landlocked country.

The Bungoma County government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute to design the Industrial Park.

Meanwhile, Mr Machi said that a county land task force has been set up to establish grabbed government land with a view of repossessing it for public use

The 17-member task force is chaired by former MP Lawrence Sifuna.

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