By Vitalis Kimutai
Besides appearing like you could resolve all social and economic issues that affect the everyday life of voters in Chepalungu Constituency, your political party affiliation is crucial to winning this areas parliamentary seat.You need to articulate issues touching on agriculture, infrastructure and education, among others.
Chepalungu roads are in a deplorable state, thus affecting transportation of goods to markets and access to other services.
This area has never had an inch of tarmacked road. Locals have over the years called for classification of roads linking the area to the neighbouring districts of Trans Mara, Narok, and Bureti, in vain.
The main activity for the people of Chepalungu is rearing beef cattle and goats because most parts of the area are semi-arid. Butchers and traders from far-flung regions like Nakuru and Nairobi troop into the Chebunyo and Kaplkwen trading centres in Chepalungu during auction days to buy these animals. But because the traders incur heavy costs transporting the animals from the area on superlatively bad roads, they pay peanuts to farmers for the animals.
In the upper zone of Siongiroi Division, residents are dairy farmers who sell their milk to the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) plant in Sotik Town, while others take their product to the Siongiroi Dairies Cooperative Society, which they own. Poor infrastructure eats into the profit margins of these activities. Education standards in Chepalungu have been sliding downwards in the last few years, a situation that voters and other residents want their next MP to rectify.
Voters also want tertiary training institutions to absorb school leavers in the area.
Residents of Chepalungu do not know what clean tap water is all about. For domestic consumption, they use water drawn from natural but polluted sources. They feel a proper political leadership will help them to reverse this.
And most educated voters of Chepalungu want an MP who will enhance civic education, especially on matters touching on female genital mutilation (FGM). They claim that because most families are stuck in the archaic customs of circumcising girls, the girl-child is at a disadvantage, thus derailing social and economic development.
But because of fear of losing popularity and therefore votes few politicians in Chepalungu would want to take FGM head on.
Healthcare facilities in Chepalungu are few and far apart. And where they exist, they lack drugs, equipment and enough qualified staff.
The Rural Electrification Programme is rolling out in the area and voters hope this will help to fast track the development process and alleviate poverty.
Perhaps John Koech, the immediate former MP, will want to take credit for this, although it is a programme sponsored by the Government and international donors. Koech is also the immediate former Minister for East Africa and Regional Cooperation. He was dropped from the Cabinet after ditching the Government for ODM after sensing an unfavourable political climate for whoever supports the regime in the area. The area is an Opposition stronghold whose politics are dominated by ODM and ODM-K.
Those gunning for the seat include Isaac Ruto, a former MP for the area, Dr David Soo, Paul Sigei, Carolyne Ruto, Alexander Ngeno, Joseph Chepkwony, William Kilele, Pastor Paul Langat and Elijah Bor.