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Raychelle Omamo clashes with MPs over San Marco space center

Defence CS Raychelle Omamo on Thursday clashed with a parliamentary committee over the economic gains Kenya makes from the installation of the Italian owned San Marco space centre in Malindi.

The space station dubbed “San Marco 2” was launched at Ngomeni falls on April 26, 1967, and will be marking its 51st anniversary this year.

Omamo and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i were appearing before the Departmental Committee on Administration and National Security to present an analysis on the Kenya Coast Guard Service Bill, 2017.

The matter of the space station came up and MPs sought to know how Kenya has been benefiting from the scientific satellite.

“Even Safaricom when they put a mast on your land they always pay, so how much do we get as a country,” Sirisia MP John Waluke asked.

Omamo was, however, non-committal on the matter and refused to discuss it.

“I came here today for one purpose, to discuss the Kenya Coastguard. That was what the invitation letter said. It did not ask me to come here to discuss the San Marco Satellite project,” she said.

MPs were angered by the response and expressed concern that the CS could be hiding something.

They said it was wrong for her as a CS to appear before a House committee and dictate to how proceedings should be executed.

Eight years ago, Italy reached a 15-year agreement with Kenya and pledged financial and technical support to the government.

In January last year, Italian Space Agency delegation headed by President Roberto Battiston visited Malindi and discussed technical and operational details for the final ratification of the agreement with the then Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Defense Kirimi Kaberia.

The new agreement provides for five implementing protocols: support the Kenyan National Space Agency; establishment of a regional centre for earth observation; access to earth observation data and scientific information to education and training activities and Telemedicine.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i interjected and cooled things down by urging the committee to seek clarification on the issue from the relevant ministries.

“You can even require of us or you can even require of my colleague in the ministry of defence to submit to you a written document on the San Marco answering those questions,” he said.

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