Hustlers’ expectations high as Dr Ruto becomes President
Hundreds of Eldoret residents braved wet and chilly weather on Tuesday to follow the inauguration of Dr William Ruto as the fifth President of Kenya on a screen in the central business district.
They started milling around the screen on Uganda Highway, with the number growing by the minute as the ceremony got underway.
Across the North Rift, the resounding message was the expectation that Dr Ruto’s government will significantly bring down the cost of living and make life more bearable.
In Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, while some people spared time to follow proceedings on television screens, most went about their duties as usual, particularly traders at shopping centres.
In Eldoret, as some people watched the live televised event on a screen in the town centre, others filled restaurants as outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta handed over power to Dr Ruto, a son of their Uasin Gishu soil, at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The 'sinendet' moment
Many residents were draped in sinendet, a traditional plant that Kalenjins wear during celebrations.
“I am really excited to witness this historic event after waiting for so long. It is my wish that the new regime will champion the common man's interests,” said Kipkorir Koech, from Chepkanga, Uasin Gishu.
Business remained low in Eldoret and its environs as hundreds of residents and traders jammed the streets to celebrate the handover of power, ending days of anxiety.
Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga had moved to the Supreme Court to dispute Dr Ruto’s victory, but the apex court dismissed the petition and upheld the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate’s win.
In neighbouring Nandi County, Kapsabet and Nandi Hills towns were deserted as many people decided to watch Dr Ruto’s swearing-in at home.
Unlike the previous Monday, when large screens were mounted in Kapsabet, for the public to follow the Supreme Court issue its judgment, there were none this time round.
The county government had also mounted huge TV screens in the Kapsabet town centre when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced the presidential results.
Business as usual
In West Pokot County, however, residents carried on with their business as usual, citing the high cost of living, with some following proceedings on television. Business went on as usual in Kapenguria and Makutano towns.
Businessman Ashiono Wendo told the Nation that he opted to open his business so that his children could have something to eat.
“We love Ruto but the high cost of living made me just open my shop,” he said.
In Turkana County, residents have high expectations from the new government, hopeful that the cost of living under Dr Ruto's administration will come down.
Bodaboda operator Mark Abei said he was not able to travel for the inauguration or stay at home with his family to follow the proceedings on television because of the current high cost of living.
"I am the breadwinner of my family, and if I don't work today, we will have nothing to eat. However, I urge Dr Ruto to stick to his word of lowering the prices of essential commodities, especially maize flour," Mr Abei said.
'Keep your word'
Mr Peter Korobe, another resident, urged Dr Ruto to stick to his word of uplifting hustlers.
“The fifth President should revive the local economy by ensuring basic commodities are available and affordable for common mwananchi like us,” he said.
"We want prices of food commodities like maize flour, cooking oil and sugar reduced. Prices of fuel products like petrol should be reduced to facilitate trade, especially in the transport and manufacturing sector," he said.
Mr Samuel Otang said he was excited because a President who understands the plight of bodaboda and mama mboga will be at the helm.
"I believe that we will now be able to comfortably pay school fees for our children and hospital bills as our businesses will be productive," Mr Otang said.
Thousands of residents from the region on Monday boarded hired school buses and PSVs to Nairobi to witness Dr Ruto’s inauguration.
BY BARNABAS BII, TOM MATOKE, OSCAR KAKAI and SAMMY LUTTA