Governors conduct night raid to enforce new law on potato packaging
In a rare development, two Governors mounted a night raid on vehicles transporting potatoes to Nairobi and other markets and netted over 15 trucks packed with potatoes weighing beyond the recommended 50 kg.
Nyandarua Governor H.E. Daniel Waithaka Mwangi and his Nakuru Counterpart H.E. Kinuthia Mbugua took part in the night operation at Maai Mahiu town in Nakuru County and later at Soko Mpya in Nyandarua where it emerged that Police were doing little to enforce the new law.
The two Governors were prompted into action following persistent complaints from farmers and other stakeholders that police were simply collecting money from offending drivers of the trucks before allowing them to proceed with the journey.
At Soko Mpya, the governors who conducted the raid after 11PM were shocked when a truck was found transporting over 200 bags weighing over 90kg each instead of the recommended 50 kg. The driver was arrested and the vehicle impounded on the spot.
“This is tragic. We cannot allow a situation where farmers are exploited while police are now cashing in on the new law to make a kill instead of apprehending the offenders,” said Governor Waithaka .
Earlier, while speaking at Maai Mahiu Governor Mbugua said he will personally ensure all laws passed by the County Assembly and even National Assembly touching on farming and other sectors were enforced for the benefit of the residents.
“We have a new law governing the packaging of potatoes but it is not being enforced. I have decided to commit my energy to ensuring it is enforced for the benefit of our farmers,” the Governor said.
Mbugua said he had embarked on cleaning Nakuru town by removing hawkers from the streets and the exercise will continue in Naivasha and other towns, in accordance with the law.
“We have to ensure that laws passed are enforced. This is the only way our people will benefit from such laws,” he said adding that he will team up with other Governors from potato-growing areas to ensure the new law is enforced by all means.
The two Governors who were accompanied by a battalion of journalists from all the media houses, vowed to push on with the campaign of ensuring the law on potatoes is enforced.
Apart from the Nakuru and Nyandarua teams, the group also involved senior officials from Narok County led by the Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, and officials of the Kenya Potato Council led by the Chief Executive Officer Mfr. Wachira Kaguongo,.
Those accompanying Governor Mbugua included Nakuru Deputy Governor H.E. Joseph Ruto, County Secretary Joseph Motari, Agriculture CEC Dr. Chepkwony, the Chief Officer for Agriculture Ms Purity Muritu, the Chief of Staff Mr. Ray Komen and the Chief of Protocol Mr. Mike Gitone.
The Nyandarua Group also included County Speaker Hon. Ndegwa Wahome, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Hon. Agatha Thuo, her counterparts in Legal Affairs Hon. George Kimani and Hon. Peter Gathimba (Tourism and Sports). Others included ag. Chief of Staff Gitau Mburu , The Chief Officer for Agriculture Dr. Daniel Gikara and Director of Press Mr. Eliud Miring’uh.
The Narok group reported that six trucks had been impounded in Narok town transporting potatoes packaged in large bags and were being held at a local police station.
In Maai Mahiu, four trucks were impounded ferrying potatoes that were packaged in bags weighing beyond 50 kg and the owners were expected to appear before Naivasha Court .
The two governors later converged in Naivasha and resolved to empower their Agriculture Ministers to continue with the campaign for a period of two weeks and file a formal report on the way forward.
“We have resolved to empower our Ministers to continue with the raids and file reports in two weeks time so we can take necessary action,” said Governor Mbugua.
They also resolved to move their campaigns to Nairobi and Mombasa, the two major destinations for potatoes to ensure that county governments in those areas co-operated in enforcing the law.
“We shall move everywhere including Thika and Meru to ensure this law is enforced and our farmers get justice for their labour,” said Governor Waithaka