South Rift leaders press Ruto for projects at second meeting in one month
For the second time in one month, elected leaders from Bomet and Kericho counties have met President William Ruto at the State House to discuss a rollout of development programmes in the South Rift region.
On Tuesday, the leaders led by Governors Prof Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and Dr Erick Mutai (Kericho), met the President at State House, Eldoret.
The entourage comprised Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies.
Insiders told the Nation that kick-starting development projects that were abandoned by former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration and those starved of funding at various stages of implementation were the highlights of the meeting.
Dr Ruto is also said to have agreed to tour Bomet County early next year for a thanksgiving prayer rally similar to the one held in Kericho County two months ago.
“We were glad to hear the President lay down an elaborate plan to revive our economy as a country and specifically our South Rift region which is predominantly a tea growing zone,” Prof Barchok wrote on his social media pages after the meeting on Tuesday.
“The new year offers an opportunity to relook at our priorities, not just as a country but as a national government as well, with a view to improving the living standards of our people.”
The leaders had earlier this month held a meeting with the President at State House, Nairobi where development issues were discussed.
“Partnership between the national and county governments is integral in driving forward our development agenda and aspirations of our people. As Bomet elected leaders, we shall use our time to work closely with the President and his team for the benefit of our people,” Prof Barchok tweeted on December 5, 2022, after the Nairobi meeting.
He added: “The economic and social challenges we face require that we remain united and focused on our priorities. We can only succeed when united.”
Dr Patrick Mutai, the Speaker of the County Assembly of Kericho, in a similar post after the meeting gave a sneak preview of the issues discussed with the President in Eldoret.
“In his goodwill message to the people of the larger Kericho, he (Dr Ruto) has promised to look into development areas the community feels disadvantaged being roads, water, electricity, agriculture and job creation for the youth among others,” Dr Mutai wrote.
He added, “The President is committed to transforming our nation even as he promises increased revenue to the exchequer that will help finance these projects. His key message is to also get the country out of the current debt scenario by not (over) borrowing”
Construction of the Sh22 billion Bosto project in Bomet County, which, despite feasibility studies being done, did not take off, was one of the issues discussed.
Though the water project was one of President Kenyatta’s flagship projects 10 years ago, it did not take off with Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) having raised issues over the planned hiving off of a huge chunk of land in the Mau forest complex to pave the way for the construction of the dam and water treatment works.
It was expected that upon completion, it would supply water to a larger part of Bomet County, especially Konoin, Sotik, Bomet Central and Chapalungu constituencies.
Water projects, health, roads and rural electrification in the two counties were some of the issues the leaders pitched in the meeting with the President.
“The President has given us an assurance that the stalled tarmacking of Tenwek-Merigi-Tegat-Chemaner –Kimuchul and Chemaner-Kembu-Longisa, Kembu-Kapkimolwo-Mulot road will resume to the benefit of Bomet East residents,” Mr Richard Yegon, the Bomet East Member of Parliament said.
Mr Yegon, a first-term MP, stated that the constituency stands out in the South Rift as the only one with only one kilometre of a tarmac road, while the other constituencies have had more than their share of roads upgraded to bitumen standards.
The funding for Kyogong-Sigor-Chebunyo in Chepalungu constituency and the Longisa-Kipreres–Sigor road upgrade to bitumen standards, which also stalled in the tail end of President Kenyatta’s administration were also discussed.
The national government was urged to fund the upgrade of medical facilities at the Longisa County Referral hospital in Bomet county in respect of former Governor Dr Joyce Laboso who died on July 29, 2019, having been keen on expanding the facility.
“As a matter of fact, Bomet and Kericho were sidelined by former President Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration and the people are confident that Dr Ruto’s administration will deliver on development projects,” Mr Victor Koech, the Chepalungu MP (Chama Cha Mashinani party) said.
The leaders also renewed calls for the construction of a national hospital referral hospital in Kericho to cater for the residents of the South Rift and ease pressure on Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), Eldoret. The county government has set aside land for the project in Kipkelion East constituency.
“The planned hiving off of 1,000 acres for expansion of Kericho town also arose in the meeting with directives from the President the process be fast-tracked by the National Lands Commission (NLC) and the County government,” a leader who attended the meeting revealed.
The Sh578 million Kericho-Kisumu interchange whose construction has been delayed for over two years and the repeated government promise to complete the Roret pineapple processing plant were some of the other issues discussed.
It was not clear by press time if the emotive issue of the deployment of tea-plucking machines by the multinationals was discussed in the meeting between the leaders and the President.
Kericho Governor (Dr Mutai) has been vocal in seeking a reversal of the use of tea machines in favour of manual plucking to create employment opportunities for locals.