President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga are expected to visit Nyanza region this week, five months after the ‘handshake’.
The two leaders, expected to be in the region for at least four days, will visit Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Migori and Kisii counties to inspect and launch development projects initiated by the national government and continue with their mission to build unity among communities.
“It is confirmed that Uhuru and Raila will hold rallies in the region and also have closed-door meetings with leaders from the area. The two are keen on implementing their Building Bridges initiative,” a source said.
The tour of Nyanza comes in the wake of new-found camaraderie between the President and the Opposition leader after they signed a unity pact on March 9.
By touring the region together the leaders will raise expectations in the region, which has borne the brunt of violence in the past two elections.
Local leaders expect Uhuru to come with development goodies and announce revival of some of the industries that have stalled for many years.
The first stop will be Kisumu, where the leaders will be hosted by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o. Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili announced last week that the President would preside over the launch of Kisumu’s Universe Health Care (UHC) programme on August 9.
Kisumu is one of five counties that will pilot the UHC. The project has been launched in Makueni. The other counties are Machakos, Nyeri and Isiolo.
The two will also inaugurate the Sh4.2 billion Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) mall.
The 60,000-square-foot building, which opened its doors in February, was facing the hammer but the National Treasury took over its Sh4 billion bank loan.
The mall, the biggest in western Kenya, is expected to raise about Sh230 million annually when fully occupied.
The five-floor mega investment has about 140 shops, a three-star hotel, showrooms, and a parking area that can accommodate 335 cars.
The leaders will launch the Kisumu-Nandi road before heading to Siaya, the home county of the National Super Alliance (NASA) leader.
There has been heightened activity in the region. The Kisumu-Bondo road, which the two leaders are expected to use, is being patched up.
Officers from the Kenya National Highways Authority were also busy marking the Siaya-Bondo-Rang’ala road, which the President is expected to launch.
Alego Usonga MP Sam Atandi said the President was also expected to launch the Sh2.3 billion water project that serves Bondo and Siaya towns.
The MP said the Ministry of Energy had commenced the Last Mile connectivity programme, which the residents expect President Kenyatta to launch.
“There is a mega water project that was completed in South East Alego ward. It serves both Bondo and Siaya and we expect the President to launch it officially,” said Mr Atandi.
He stated that he would ask the President to fund the construction of the Siaya-Dominion road, adding that the project had been tendered and was waiting for release of funds by the Treasury.
Muhoroni MP James Onyango K’Oyoo said Nyanza was eagerly waiting for the President.
He said he expected the President to visit his constituency to commission the construction of a major road.
“We know the President is coming to enhance the handshake. We have a long list of projects we will request him to revive. Top on our list is the revival of the sugar sector, which is on its knees due to years of neglect,” said Mr K’Oyoo.
In Kisii, Raila and his guest will attend the International Youth Day celebrations to be hosted at Kisii University.