What you need to know:
- President Kenyatta’s visit, which starts on Sunday, has caused political jitters among local leaders,
- Local leaders have said revival of Mumias Sugar Company will turn around the region’s economic fortunes.
The revival of the debt ridden Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) and completion of key infrastructure projects are some of the issues leaders from western Kenya want President Uhuru Kenyatta to address during his tour of the region.
The projects include the tarmacking of key roads in Kakamega County. They include the 31-kilometre Lurambi-Navakholo-Musikoma road, which was commissioned by President Kenyatta before the 2017 polls, and the Ibokolo-Shianda-Malaha-Navakholo road, which connects Mumias East constituency and Navakholo.
The leaders said revival of Mumias Sugar will turn around the region’s economic fortunes.
“Mumias Sugar used to employ 3,000 permanent staff and 30,000 casual labourers before things started going wrong. We want the government to address the revival of the miller so that our people can have their jobs back and farmers can improve their livelihoods,” said Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe.
President Kenyatta’s visit, which starts on Sunday, has caused political jitters among local leaders, with allies of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and those of Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula threatening not to take part in welcoming the Head of State unless the two are involved in preparations.
They accused governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) of sidelining other elected leaders.
Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga yesterday said the president’s tour should not be used to popularise some presidential candidates ahead of next year’s polls.
Struggling sugar milling company
“We also want a firm commitment from President Kenyatta that the projects he is commissioning will be completed so that out people can benefit before he leaves office next year,” he said.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula said MPs want the government to intervene through Sh4 billion bailout and waive the debts the miller owes to the Kenya Revenue Authority amounting to Sh10 million.
The leaders further want the President to intervene and salvage the financially-struggling Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County and ensure farmers are paid their outstanding arrears amounting to Sh700 million.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on Tuesday said a meeting of leaders from the region had been planned in Nairobi to iron out the misgivings a section of leaders expressed after governors met President Kenyatta at State House Mombasa last week.
“We are hoping we can have the meeting by Friday so that our focus will be the President’s tour of the region. We don’t wish to politicise the tour because that will not help our people,” he said.
Mr Wangwe yesterday assured his colleagues that they would have an opportunity to meet and discuss they issues they have raised touching on the planned tour.
“I want to confirm we will have a sitting and those who feel they had been left out of the preparations for the President’s visit will have an opportunity to contribute to the matter,” said Mr Wangwe.