put off yet again
By Musindi Nzuma
UNCERTAINTY shrouds the launch of the Konza ICT City by President Mwai Kibaki.
The official launch of the works plans has been postponed on several occasions, sparking questions on what is actually happening.
Recently, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said for the umpteenth time in Machakos that Mr Kibaki would perform the ground breaking ceremony ‘soon’ and now residents are about to believe that it may take a long time to be done, if at all.
Hear him: " Plans for the groundbreaking of the proposed Konza ICT city are at an advanced stage.The multi billion techno city project is a reality I encourage people in Ukambani region to prepare to invest there.The proposed Konza city will definitely change the face of Makueni County and the country as whole.It will comprise of major projects including a major hospital” He gave no specific timing, meaning that there may not be strict dates at all.
The first launch was planned in June 2012, then it was moved to August and now no one seems to know when of if it will happen although those in the know say that Mr Kibaki would want to do it as soon as possible as it would mark part of what he wants to leave behind as part of his legacy.
Observers are keenly watching events unfolding over the ICT City, the recent one being the proposal to prosecute Information PS Bitange Ndemo for abuse of office over the manner in which the land ofr the city was acquired through single sourcing.
To manage to prosecute a PS over the land previously known as Malili Ranch is as good as casting aspersions on the integrity of the entire project.
Observers are not oblivious of efforts by some powerful politicians to shelve the Konza city plan and shift it to a site along Thika Road that has been donated, as opposed to one bought under controversial circumstances.
For those in the dark, the land for the Konza ICT city was acquired in controversial circumstances where the state used Sh 1b to purchase 5,000 acres of land for what was then known as Malili City. Each of the farmers was to be paid Sh 200,000 per acre. Each farmer owned 7.8 acres of land, meaning they were each to get Sh 1.4m. But in the end many received Sh 1.1m and the rest was shared by politicians and officials of Malili ranch. Two of them were taken to court to overshadow the theft and were later acquitted of the allegations.
Due to the controversy existing at the time, it was decided that the project name changes from Malili to Konza but matters have not necessarily been smooth.
There is still a misplaced row between the Machakos and Makueni Counties over where the city is located and an Environmental Impact Assessment report for the project has dragged unnecessarily until last moth when stake holders were called to deliberate over its outcome
The NEMA report was communicated at stakeholders meeting, attended by representatives from OleKajiado county council, and their Machakos and Makuei counterparts as well as members and management committees from the surrounding farms like Konza Malili and Aimi ma Kilungu that endorsed the long awaited NEMA report to enable the project kick off. It is unimaginable that those who planned that the President launch the project in June wanted it done without such a key undertaking.
Already a caveat has been slammed on a 10km radius, preventing development of permanent structures till a development plan is completed. Nevertheless, structures of all shapes are still sprouting in the area and it is still possible that one will have to drive through a shanty town before reaching the Vision 2030 Strategy metropolis.
An official at the Ministry Mr. J Mung’asia assured the participants that the construction of the project would kick off before the end of the year and called on the relevant stakeholders and surrounding community to extend the necessary support towards the initiative.
Reading Mr Ndemo’s speech to the meeting, Mr Mung’asia, said that the government carried out the strategic Environmental and Social Study in 2011 to ensure that the project implementation does not impact negatively to the community and environment adding that the government was commitment to the establishment of the Konza technology city to spur investments which will create wealth and employment particularly to the youth.
The PS further indicated that the project would be implemented through a public private partnership in four phases where the government will invest in horizontal infrastructure such as roads, energy and water sewerage system while the private sector will invest in vertical infrastructure that include commercial and residential buildings among others.
‘’In addition, the government is developing legal and Institutional framework that will create an enabling environment for investment in the Konza city’’ said the PS,.
He cited the project as one of the special economic zones that the government plans to establish like the Lamu port, Isiolo Resort cities and the Mombasa Free port among others.
He said the government has already hosted a successful international investors conferences where both local and international investors have expressed interest to invest in the city.
He therefore called on the stakeholders to pool resources together to invest in the city