Kibaki unveils plans to open up Western region

President Kibaki is received by John Cardinal Njue, the Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, on arrival for the Sadaka Maalum Collection Mass at Gusii Stadium on Sunday. Photo/PPS

The Government is set to upgrade Kisumu Airport to an international airport. Another airport and an airstrip will be built in Kisii, President Kibaki announced on Sunday.

This, the Head of State said, was part of efforts to open up Western Kenya for tourism and business.

Players in the tourism sector have been gearing up for increased tourist traffic in the Western region following the election of Barack Obama as US president. Mr Obama’s father came from Kogelo in Siaya.

“Very soon people will now be travelling to and from Kisumu and other destinations in Africa once the upgrade of the airport is complete,” he said.


President Kibaki was speaking at Gusii Stadium in Kisii where he presided over a fund raising to put up a seminary in the area.

“An airport expansion has already started and it will be launched officially very soon,” he said.

The President said the Government was committed to initiating development in different parts of the country and nobody should think that their area was being neglected.

We are working on a programme that will see all parts of the country benefit from development projects and people should not say their areas have been sidelined,” he said.

The Head of State said that apart from tarmacking various roads in the area, the Government plans to set up a dairy plant. He also promised area residents a full-fledged university.

On the controversial Communication Bill, Internal Security minister George Saitoti said journalists and civil society officials who attempted to protest during Friday’s Jamhuri Day celebrations were disrespectful to the President.

“The Government is ready to license any meeting where people want to express their views, but it will not condone unruly behaviour during State functions,” Prof Saitoti said.

John Cardinal Njue of the Catholic church said that he advocated for a responsible media industry but does not support gagging of the media.

“Let us not gag the media, but put in place regulations that will see us have a responsible media sector,” he said.

He asked MPs to accept being taxed, saying it was unfair for other Kenyans to pay tax while the lawmakers enjoy exemption.

About Sh20.5 million was raised, with a personal donation of Sh1 million from President Kibaki, who also pledged an additional Sh2 million.

The President was also accompanied by Education Minister Sam Ongeri, Public Works’ Chris Obure and Nyanza provincial commissioner Paul Olando.