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State ditches Galana project for small ventures

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By JULIUS SIGEI
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The government appears finally set to abandon the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Development Project which has so far gobbled up Sh5.2 billion with little to show for it, and has instead shifted its attention to smaller irrigation projects.

In the 2019/2020 budget estimates a mere Sh10 million has been allocated to the project which was launched in 2014 with great fanfare and was billed as the answer to Kenya’s perennial food shortage.

It has not been allocated any estimates in the next two financial years, sounding the death knell to the grand scheme even as questions remain concerning the viability of the project in the first place, and who is culpable for the loss of taxpayer’s money.

After three harvests of mixed success, the contractor left the site last year, accusing the National Irrigation Board, the project implementing agency, of not paying for work done.

The government now appears to have shifted attention to 36 irrigation projects spread across the country and which have been allocated Sh2 billion.

Last year the projects, dubbed National Expanded Irrigation Programme received Sh2.3 billion and another Sh1 billion has been scheduled for the next two financial years.

The smaller irrigation projects include Kiirua-Kabirichia, Nyanjigi, Meiteitei, Riamukurwe, Tunyai/Kakurunga, Naroosura/Nkuruman, Kaplelartet, Oldinyiro, Shimba Hills, Bura, Perkerra, Hola and Sabor.

Others include Kamuka, Ngi’nda, Bunyala, West Kano, Mweru Umoja, Chemase, Mirichu Murika, Aiwet, Lower Sio, Molo Sirwet, Tunyo, Mulwaper and Itabua Muthatari irrigation projects.

Another big winner is the Mwea Irrigation Development Project under the Thiba Dam and Irrigation Area, which has received Sh1.98 billion with another Sh4 billion scheduled in the next two financial years.

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The shift in approach appears to follow the script of the government’s Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy 2019-2029, one of whose highlights is to develop irrigation supported large-scale farms across the country.

“While much of the land will be state-owned, the new farm enterprises will be predominantly funded, owned and operated by the private sector,” reads a section of the strategy.

But Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich continued to pump money into dams with Itare, whose contractor, CMC di Ravenna filed for bankruptcy with only 49 per cent of work done, receiving Sh100 million in the latest estimates.

Chemosusu, also in the Rift Valley, received Sh700 million. Thwake in Kitui/Makueni was allocated Sh5.9 billion while Karumenu on the Laikipia-Nyeri border got Sh4.2 billion.

The huge allocations come in the wake of unconcluded investigations into the Kimwarer and Aror dam scandals in which Sh21 billion may have been lost yet no work has been done.

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North Korea threatens to scrap military deal with South

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Seoul

North Korea threatened Thursday to scrap a military agreement with the South and close down a cross-border liaison office unless Seoul stops activists from flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border.

The statement issued by the powerful younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un comes amid a deep freeze in inter-Korean ties, despite three summits between Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in 2018.

North Korean defectors and other activists have long flown balloons across the border carrying leaflets that criticise Kim over human rights abuses and his nuclear ambitions.

“The South Korean authorities will be forced to pay a dear price if they let this situation go on while making all sort of excuses,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

DEFECTORS

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Calling the defectors “human scum” and “rubbish-like mongrel dogs” who betrayed their homeland, she said it was “time to bring their owners to account” in a reference to the South Korean government.

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She threatened to scrap a military pact signed during Moon’s visit to Pyongyang in 2018 aimed at easing border tensions, and shut down a cross-border liaison office.

But most of the deals agreed at that meeting have not been acted on, with Pyongyang largely cutting off contact with Seoul following the collapse of a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi last year that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED

Operations at the liaison office have already been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the North has carried out dozens of weapons tests since the military agreement was signed.

Kim Yo Jong also threatened to pull out permanently from joint projects with the South including the Kaesong Industrial Park and Mount Kumgang tours – both of them money-spinners for the North that have been suspended for years due to sanctions over its weapons programmes.

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Cops hunting for rider who fled with friend’s Sh505K and switched off phone – Nairobi News

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Police are looking for a boda boda rider who disappeared after receiving Sh505,200 he had been sent by his friend to collect for her.

Bernard Onsase had been sent by Monica Macharia to collect the money from her friend at Wilson Airport on May 9.

He later switched off his phone and disappeared.

Shaurimoyo police station is obtained court orders to compel telephone services provider Safaricom to share details of Onsase and his wife Asenath Omwenga’s mobile phone numbers.

Police constable Mohamed Ragow told Makadara chief magistrate Heston Nyaga that Onsase has been Macharia’s customer but moved his family and relocated to an unknown place.

Police want Safaricom to avail M-Pesa transaction details of the couple’s phone numbers from May 9 to date and any other information that may help in obtaining concrete evidence for the case.

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The police also want to have access and carry away document related to transactions of Onsase’s account and Safaricom to provide other telephone numbers the two could have registered.

Nyaga granted the orders, but, however, pointed out that 90 percent of Kenyans are likely to do what Onsase did.

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Tunisia announces 3rd phase of lifting Covid-19 restrictions

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By XINHUA

Tunis

Tunisian minister in charge of major national projects Lobna Jribi announced on Wednesday the main lines of the third phase of the national strategy for partially lifting the coronavirus lockdown.

“From June 4, work will resume at 100 per cent capacity in public administrations and in the other sectors of activity,” Jribi said at a press briefing at the government’s headquarters in Tunis.

She announced that mosques, all worship places, hotels and restaurants will reopen on June 4.

“Party halls will reopen on the same date,” said the minister, adding that the enclosed spaces will operate at 50 per cent of their capacity and the open spaces will operate at full capacity, but in compliance with hygiene measures.

SPORTS

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Various sporting activities will be resumed from June 8 without the public “for the moment,” while respecting the preventive measures fixed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Travel between all Tunisian governorates will resume without authorisation, said Jribi.

Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4 to June 14, “and priority will be given to students and residents who have lost their jobs”.

“Since March 15, 2020, Tunisian authorities have managed to ensure the repatriation of 25,000 Tunisians stranded abroad, including 18,000 by air and 7,000 via land borders,” said the Minister of Transport and Logistics, Anouar Maarouf, at a press briefing held in Tunis on Wednesday.

SCHEDULED FLIGHTS

Maarouf said that several flights have been scheduled recently to repatriate Tunisians living in various countries who wish to spend the summer holidays in Tunisia.

“However, the programming of new repatriation flights does not mean opening the borders,” explained Maarouf.

He stressed that any Tunisian national repatriated will be called upon to comply with a mandatory confinement of two weeks; “one week at the hotel at his own expense – during which two screening tests will be carried out, with one upon arrival and the other upon exit – and a second week at his home.”

EXEMPTED FROM QUARANTINE

Students, employees whose contract of employment has expired, Tunisian nationals in difficult financial situations, and those who have been stranded in the destination countries will be exempted from the quarantine fees.

On May 26, Mohamed Rabhi, head of the health quarantine commission at the ministry revealed that mandatory quarantine in Tunisian medical centres over the Covid-19 concerns has so far cost the state 15 million dinars (5 million US dollars).

On June 1, Tunisia decided to reopen the land, air and sea borders from June 27, but Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

On Wednesday, Tunisia reported one imported Covid-19 case, bringing the total number of cases to 1,087.

The Tunisian government has imposed strict confinement measures shortly after the announcement of the first coronavirus case on March 2.

The North African country has received several batches of medical aid from the Chinese government, Chinese foundations and companies since late March to help its fight against the pandemic.

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