By Philip Onyango
The Siaya County Assembly members on Wednesday vowed to kick out an American investor from the Yala Swamp for allegedly belittling the community through peddling falsehoods against the local leadership.
Speaking at the Siaya county assembly during a motion to discuss recent allegations by the Dominion Farms limited, Chief Executive, Mr. Calvin Burgess that former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and a host of local ODM politicians intimidated him through threats of closure and cash demands, the MCAs said time was ripe for the American to pack and leave as his presence in the area has done more harm than good.
Speaker after speaker expressed his anger against Mr. Burgess for linking the former prime minister with the failure of his business venture, saying that if anything, he should thank Raila for convincing the local community to accommodate him.
The MCAs said that the community around the Yala swamp has suffered for more than a decade as they could no longer access water and even a public road that the firm blocked.
They said that Mr. Burgess had reneged on a memorandum of understanding he signed with the defunct Bondo and Siaya county councils, the precursor to the current Siaya county government in which he was to undertake several community projects, among them roads, hospitals and water projects in return for using the natural resource.
“We are dealing with an international conman who is unable to pay his workers and meet several obligations to the community and his suppliers. We need a clear road map on how and when he will leave,” said an MCA, Mr. Nicholas Aneme.
The deputy speaker who is also the West Ugenya MCA, Mr. Stephen Kadera said the MoU between the Dominion farms and the defunct local authorities should be declared null and void as they were fraudulently signed.
Mr. Kadera said Mr. Burgess should also be declared a persona non grata in Siaya county and the process of his deportation back to the United States of America commenced immediately.
The MCAs who included, Joseph Kawuor, Omollo Kowi, George Ndonji, Rosemary Ogutu, Jared Abayo and Leonard Oriaro lamented that since the entry of the investor into the area, they have been forced to spend a fortune in bailing out members of the community who are persistently arrested over trivial matters such as trespass.
They accused the investor of stooping too low by accepting to be used by Jubilee party to fight Raila Odinga.
Last week, Mr. Burgess addressed the media in Nairobi where he claimed that Raila had asked for financial support for his political campaigns.
Mr. Burgess further claimed that Raila’s sister, Ruth Odinga who is the Kisumu deputy governor forced Dominion to award her dealership and took rice that she has refused to pay for five years down the line.
In his ruling, the speaker of the Siaya county assembly, Mr. George Okode tasked the implementation committee to take up the matter and report back to the assembly within 14 days on the status of implementation of a report by the Agriculture, fisheries and tourism committee.
The committee, chaired by Jared Abayo had recommended a re- survey of the entire swamp and review of the 25 year lease agreement with the Dominion farms limited.
Mr. Okode further ordered that the report be sent to the relevant committees of both the senate and national assemblies, the United States government and the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) through its embassy, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) to enable the offices conduct investigations into alleged malpractices by Mr. Burgess.
The speaker also ordered that the report and records of today’s proceedings also be sent to organisations that were adversely mentioned by Mr. Burgess in his press statement and be circulated widely to the public.