NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – Kisii Governor James Ongwae on Thursday petitioned the Senate Lands Committee, seeking 120 acres of Nyangweta Forest land to construct a sugar factory in South Mugirango.
While appearing before the committee, Ongwae defended the move saying they have already gazetted 900 acres of land but needed the extra portion to develop the factory.
He told the Mwangi Githiomi-led committee that the proposed sugar factory would immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of Kisii County.
“The factory would produce ethanol and contribute 10 Megawatts of electricity to the national grid adding and it will also create 10,000 jobs to the youths in Kisii,” said Ongwae.
Ongwae was however tasked to explain how the county was dealing with the issue of forest conversation even as the debate on environment conservation continues.
“We are not doing this without regard to forest conservation. We have identified 13 forests located in different parts of the County totalling 461.7 hectares and offered them to Kenya Forest Service for gazettement and use,” Ongwae said.
Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri who attended the sitting supported Ongwae’s petition saying the sugar complex will be the only factory worth a mention in the entire Kisii County spanning nine constituencies.
“If this senate denies the opportunity to construct the factory, the net result would be allowing destruction of the forest as our people will resort to jaggery and this is not the desired goal for the people,” argued Ongeri.
He said owing to population pressure and diminishing land sizes, Kisii County would soon turn into a big slum adding that correct planning and industrialization were critical to forestall that development.
Githiomi said the committee would interrogate the Environment and Agriculture ministries next Thursday before visiting Nyangweta Forest on a fact finding mission.
Once complete, the factory will have a capacity to crush 5,000 tonnes of cane per day and produce 10megawatts of power to the national grid.
An Indian investor, Kanoria Group, has already registered Kisii Renewable Energy and Sugar Factory Company Limited and will invest Sh5billion to build the factory.