Kenya’s Senate has approved the transfer of more key functions to the counties, setting the stage for a battle with the national government currently in charge of the tasks.
In a report adopted last week, the Senate wants counties to take charge of their grain storage facilities and agricultural machinery in their areas, Class D and E roads, even as they play a role in the running of harbours and ferries.
The Senate also recommends that county governments implement some policies on forestry and natural resources and manage all libraries in their jurisdictions except the Kenya National Library Headquarters.
The report, which was prepared by the Senate Committee on Devolution chaired by Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, however, reveals the weaknesses of counties in terms of skills, personnel and facilities to handle the functions which are to be devolved.
“Continuous capacity building of the county governments should be undertaken by the National Government and the Transition Authority to ensure the Counties have adequate capacity to handle the transferred functions,” the report, which was adopted last Thursday states.
The committee, which took up the task last year following an appeal by 29 counties against the Transition Authority, was in agreement that while the silos of the National Cereals and Produce Board were part of the National Strategic Grain Reserves, each county should be allowed to take charge of its own silos.
“As part of the National Security function, the National Cereals and Produce Board Silos should remain as part of the National Strategic Grain Reserves. County governments should be able establish their own silos and grain storages facilities in accordance with their needs,” the report states.
However, the Senate recommended the full devolution of agricultural machinery which are in the hands of the national government which ought to devise mechanisms of sharing the existing machinery amongst the counties.
The committee, also, ventured into the controversial area of management of roads which are run by the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA).
Governors have been fighting for transfer of county roads management by KeRRA and KURA to their jurisdiction saying they were better placed to manage them. On Sunday, chairman of Governors Council Mr Isaac Ruto said: “We have always told them that we want to manage those roads because they are not taking care of them. That is exactly what we want and they should also reclassify some of those roads for us to manage.”
In the report, the Transition Authority headed by Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi said they were ready to transfer the management of those roads once the modalities have been agreed upon.
“The bone of contention is the transfer of county roads managed by KURA and KERRA. TA has no objection in transferring the management of these roads and is in the process of developing modalities for the transfer of the functions.
TA undertakes to ensure the county roads managed by KURA and KERRA are transferred as soon as possible and in any case well before the expiry of the statutory transition period,” he said.
( Courtesy Daily Nations & Government of Kenya ….. Our Freelance Contributor in Nairobi & New Africa Business News )