Western leaders craft agenda for president’s visit to region next week
POLITICS | By Nathan Ochunge and Jacob Ngetich | July 25th 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to tour the Western region next week and expectations are high.
Although the specific date has not been announced, owing to his diary that will see him travel to the United Kingdom to co-host the global education summit, local leaders have already presented their wish list.
At State House Mombasa, the president met the region’s five governors namely, Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and John Munyes (Petroleum).
During the three-day development trip, the president will inspect and launch major projects at a time regional leaders have faulted his administration for sidelining them.
The Sh5 billion tax debt owed by Mumias Sugar Company is expected to feature prominently. There is also the planned construction of the Sh100 million Kakamega Gold Refinery in Ikolomani Constituency, and the Sh6 billion upgrade of the Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The president is also expected to commission the construction of Matulo Airstrip in Webuye, Chwele Open Air Market, Kanduyi Stadium and Nzoia Sugar Factory. He will also award a charter to Kaimosi University College after inspecting Vihiga Water Cluster project.
Speaking to Saturday Standard on phone after the meeting, Oparanya said they had discussed a number of projects that should be prioritised including resuscitation of Mumias Sugar and a coal factory in Kakamega.
“There is granite processing plant in Vihiga, expansion of Bungoma and Busia airports and completion of stalled road projects,” said Oparanya.
He said presence of Wamalwa and Munyes was to ensure the national projects agreed upon were implemented.
The president has in the recent past toured Nyanza, Lower Eastern and Coast. His Western trip has, however, triggered a disquiet within a section of political leaders who feel sidelined.
“That meeting was supposed to be all-inclusive with MPs, senators, governors, MCAs and opinion leaders. We have unique challenges that we wanted to present to him but we have been isolated in the planning,” said Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.
He also wondered why Uhuru met with governors and left out ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula.
“Before touring Nyanza and Eastern, he had a meeting with ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and all local leaders.
“We expected Mudavadi and Wetang’ula to lead the delegation that met him because they have a big say in the region,” said the lawmaker.
He said the upgrading of Kitale Technical Training Institute to Wamalwa Kijana University of Science and Technology was long overdue since Parliament has already passed the Bill. ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula claimed there is a scheme to undermine Mudavadi and Wetang’ula during the tour.
“You cannot plan anything in Western without the input of Mudavadi and Wetang’ula. Even we (MPs) have heard of the president’s tour in the media and we have been completely isolated in the planning process,” said Savula.
West Kabras MCA David Ndakwa said that Uhuru made a mistake by not involving all leaders from the region in planning his visit.
He said that the governors who met Uhuru have no projects on the ground and want to gain political mileage.
Prof Frank Matanga, a political analyst from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology asked the political class to focus on the bigger picture.
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