President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, on May 28, 2021 when he hosted ODM leader Raila Odinga and Nyanza region MPs ahead of his tour of the region next week.  

| PSCU 

Uhuru meets Raila lawmakers ahead of Madaraka Day visit

What you need to know:

  • Legislators asked to take advantage of handshake to ensure projects are budgeted for.
  • President assures Nyanza leaders that development projects initiated in the region would be completed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday rolled out goodies to his Handshake partner Raila Odinga and assured the former Prime Minister’s lawmakers that their union was intact after  weeks of friendly fire between allies  of the two leaders. 

Uhuru meets Raila lawmakers ahead of Madaraka Day visit

At a meeting in State House Nairobi that lasted for an hour between President Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga and elected political leaders from Nyanza, the Head of State assured them that all projects will be completed and even gave  a timeline. 

In a move seen to calm Mr Odinga’s political base, President Kenyatta told the lawmakers that he wants to see all projects planned to be completed in a year concluded faster while those which were set to be completed in three years to be substantially done at least past the halfway mark.

The meeting came ahead of a visit by the President to the region next week, where he would launch various projects and attend Madaraka Day celebrations to be held in Kisumu. 

The tour is viewed in the context of the March 2018 “Handshake” between the President and Mr Odinga and the consequent Building Bridges Initiative constitutional amendments process that was halted by the High Court, but proponents have launched appeals. 

Sources that attended the State House meeting told the Saturday Nation that the President assured the lawmakers that the handshake with the ODM leader is stable and they will not be distracted by politics of the day.

In a win for Mr Odinga’s push for more say in projects being rolled out, his two allies will now regularly sit in a  team that initiates and monitors government projects. 

“The President directed Mr (Joseph) Kinyua, Leader of Minority (John) Mbadi and Seme MP (James) Nyikal to work on the details of the projects, amounts of money needed for their completion and present all the details to the sub-Cabinet committee chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i,” said a source.

Reviving the economy

A statement from the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit indicated he is determined to leave a legacy of a strong, united and prosperous country.

“My brother (Mr Odinga) and I are focused on leaving a legacy where young people have steady jobs, and are able to access basic needs and become a country where all citizens are proud to be Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said, adding that for far too long, “bad politics” had derailed the country.

Mr Odinga, according to the statement, said infrastructure projects across the country were important in “reviving the economy”.

Among the projects that the President said he will personally ensure are completed and launched before his term ends include construction of the Sori-Mbita Road, Mbita causeway,  Siaya-Usenge Road, Koru-Soin Dam, Masara-Miriu Road,Rusinga Mfangano Road and the ongoing Mamboleo-Kisumu-Chemelil Road.

In the sugar sector, the President directed that money allocated for the revival of Sony Sugar Company be released promptly. He said he wants to launch the factory in August on his Migori-Homa Bay tour.

The President assured the MPs that he will be in Homa Bay County in August to give a charter to Tom Mboya University and also commission the Sori-Mbita Road and various projects in the county.

The President also said that he wants to see the Sh16 billion 308km Olkaria- Lessos-Kisumu transmission project completed this year.

Lot 1 of the project involves the construction of the 229km, 400kV double circuit transmission line from the Olkaria II substation to the Lessos substation while Lot 2 involves the construction of the 79km, 220kV double circuit transmission line from the Lessos substation to the Kibos substation and 132kV from Kibos to Kisumu (Mamboleo).The project is financed by the government and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Ongoing projects

The Sh25 billion Koru-Soin Multipurpose Dam has been unable to take off after a Chinese firm moved to the Public Procurement Administration Review Board to contest the tender award.

The project, which is supposed to address among other problems the perennial flooding in the region especially along River Nyando, is among those listed to be launched by the President in a tentative itinerary.

China Gezhouba, which lost the multibillion shillings tender, moved to the review board paralysing any works. The firm had placed Sh19.2 billion bid but the deal was awarded to China Jiangxi Economic Cooperation, which had bid at Sh19.9 billion.

Mr Mbadi, the minority leader in the National Assembly, who attended the meeting told the Saturday Nation that the discussions were only centred on development and not politics.

“We revisited the ongoing projects in the region and the new ones to be started, there was no politics,” Mr Mbadi said.

Speaking on behalf of the MPs, Mr Nyikal, the Seme MP, termed the meeting with the President as fruitful, assuring that all the development projects discussed will be done and completed.

“It has been a fruitful meeting. All the issues ailing the sugar sector in the region will be taken into consideration and more details will be provided by the President and Mr Odinga during Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu,” Mr Nyikal said.

The President challenged the MPs to use the good political relationship that currently exists courtesy of the handshake to ensure that all the projects in the region are budgeted in the next financial year.

Memorandum to Uhuru

The move is seen as important in ensuring projects in the region do not stall after being launched.

“All the projects will now be appropriated in the budget. He (the President) told us to ensure that this is done,” said an MP, who attended the meeting.

At the Thursday meeting of Nyanza lawmakers held in Upper Hill, Nairobi, the lawmakers expressed concern that people from their backyard are generally restless over the slow implementation of projects despite the handshake.

They resolved that while they appreciate the launching of various projects in the region, they wanted them completed.  

In their final memorandum handed over to President Kenyatta yesterday, the lawmakers’ caucus popularly known as ‘duol’ prioritised the revival of the sugar sector, completion of various roads and the launch of the Kisumu Port.

Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i, opened the floor before inviting Dr Nyikal, chairman of the region’s lawmakers, to present the summarised issues they wanted addressed. Other speakers at yesterday’s event were Mr Odinga, Senate Minority leader James Orengo, Mr Mbadi, National Assembly minority whip Junet Mohammed and Homa Bay woman representative Gladys Wanga.

Apart from CS Matiang’i, other Cabinet secretaries present were George Magoha (Education), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), James Macharia (Transport), Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Sicily Kariuki (Water and Sanitation).

Two principal secretaries, Jerome Ochieng (ICT and Innovation) and Dr Juma Jwan (PS Education) also attended. The President said the handshake was not about two people but would bring all Kenyans together.

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