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Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa under fire for “flagging off” toxic food for destruction

Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa and his devolved government came under fire for “flagging” off 73 tonnes of toxic foods confiscated from Mukumu Girls High School and bound for Mombasa County for destruction.

On May 3, 2023, the Governor held a press conference where he announced the plan and how a private partner had come in to destroy the food.

“For accountability purposes, myself here and the Commissioner, want to assure the public that the maize and beans that were contaminated are now going to be destroyed professionally and in compliance with the procedures of destroying contaminated food.

This is pursuant to the court order which we received for that process to be done,” said Governor Barasa in part.

The contaminated food was loaded onto trucks and bound for Bamburi Cement in Mombasa County which volunteered to destroy it as part of its corporate social responsibility. The leaders clarified they would have done the destruction in Kisumu County but as the foods amounted to about 73 tonnes, they found that the incinerator in Kisumu could only destroy a tonne a day unlike Bamburi Cement who can do it in a day or two and at a cheaper cost in terms of storing the food before destruction.

“Flagging-off the 73 tonnes of toxic foodstuffs at Mukumu Girls High School for incineration, after inspection of the institution,” said Governor Fernandes in his update after the presser.

The flagging off was done in front of Mukumu Girls High School stakeholders as well as the media. While the move was welcomed and timely, Governor Fernandes, however, faced backlash from Kenyans on Twitter who called them out for the need of “flagging off” and announcing as much to the public.

“Why and who saw the need to flag off toxic foodstuffs?” asked Adam Maina.

“Soon governor’s will be flagging exhausters in the name of flagging toxic waste 😂😂😂,” added Geofffrey Wageni.

“I was about to get really annoyed at this flagging off, but then i remembered that the parents of the school insisted on seeing (evidence in public) that the food is actually taken away from the school & destroyed. Maybe, then, you should not have used the word, flagging off,” opined Captain Vinie O.

“Could “Flagging-off” be the most misused phrasal verb?” asked Chemjor Bello.

“Why are you flagging it off like it’s some kind of achievement?!” said Wanderer Justine.

“Eti ‘flagging-off’, that is not a project Mr. That should not be an occasion or where that word can typically be used. Look for something at your level to flag-off, not toxic food,” said Mwatate Yvette.

In April 2023, the death toll rose to four after the boarding mistress, Juliana Mujema, succumbed to complications after consuming contaminated food and water at Mukumu Girls High School. 246 students were hospitalized with vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, abdomen and joint pains as well as high fever. Three students succumbed.

The school was shut down on April 3 and is set to be reopened on May 2, 2023, for Form Fours, May 4, 2023, for Form Three students, May 6 for Form Two and May 8 for Form One students.

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