Mudavadi visit ignites hope of revival of stalled projects in Vihiga County

Musalia Mudavadi

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi (second right) addresses residents while launching a  street-lighting initiative in Mbale town, Vihiga County, last Saturday. With him are Governor Wilber Ottichiolo (second left) and other county officials.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

A visit by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi to Vihiga County last Saturday has renewed hope of the completion of a slew of stalled projects after the country’s third-highest-ranking official in the executive pledged support from the national government.

Mr Mudavadi met Governor Wilber Ottichilo alongside senior county government officials and members of Parliament to discuss the fate of the stalled projects when he visited Vihiga County on Saturday last week.

Mr Mudavadi assured the leaders that the national government will help breathe life into the projects. The Nation has reliably learnt that discussions revolved around development initiatives in water and health.

Mr Mudavadi also commissioned a street-lighting project in Mbale, the county headquarters, and announced that Kenya Power will spend Sh100 million to install street lights in towns and markets across the county.

This was the first time Mr Mudavadi was touring his home county since his appointment to the office.

Rural roads

Speaking to the Nation yesterday, Governor Ottichilo revealed that the focus would now turn to the planned upgrade of rural roads to bitumen standard, the Sh200 million last-mile water connectivity and the upgrade of Vihiga County Referral Hospital from a Level Four to a Level Five facility.

Already, various roads covering 24.5 kilometres have been identified for upgrade and the county administration is keen on having this implemented to spur the region’s economy. The project includes the 5.5km Vihiga Police Station-Mbihi road, 4.3km Chavakali-Solongo-Ivona-Kegondi-Chandumba road and the 3.1km Kegoye Ring Road-Kegoye Primary-Endeli road.

Water connectivity

The Sh200 million for last-mile water connectivity is needed to enable the distribution and supply of the commodity for domestic and industrial use. This follows the completion of the Sh1.7 billion Vihiga Cluster Water Project funded by the Kingdom of Belgium.

Construction of the project that has doubled water output is complete, but the county government is unable to undertake the distribution process.

The Belgian government only funded the construction of the project but the task of distribution was left to the devolved unit in line with an agreement that was signed in 2014.

Before the 2017 General Election, Dr Ottichilo had reached out to then President Uhuru Kenyatta seeking a Sh200 million grant to fund the distribution of water.

Referral hospital

Mr Kenyatta, however, left office this year before granting the request. Dr Ottichilo’s administration also wants the Mbale-based county referral hospital upgraded to Level Five after it was refurbished and its emergency wing improved following the installation of a five-bed intensive care unit and an oxygen plant.

“We hope to invite President William Ruto to visit and experience Vihiga County as we forge forward our collaborative working engagement between the county and the national government,” Dr Ottichilo said.

Political affiliation

On Saturday, Mr Mudavadi pledged to work with all leaders in the region irrespective of their political affiliation. He acknowledged that it was the decision of voters to re-elect Dr Ottichilo.

“We have no option but to work together,” said Mr Mudavadi, who also made a courtesy call at Dr Ottichilo’s office and held a closed-door meeting with the county executive. Dr Ottichilo expressed willingness to work with the national government, saying, the election is now “behind us”.

“We now have a government that is led by [Dr Ruto] and our son, Musalia Mudavadi, is in that government as our eyes and light,” he said.