Residents say Uhuru visit did not meet their expectations

ODM leader Rail Odinga,President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret at the Kisumu International Airport on December 13, 2018. [Photo, Standard]

The historic visit of President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga visit to Nyanza failed to address some of the key concerns of residents.

Among the issues residents had been looking forward to have the leaders address include the water hyacinth weed in Lake Victoria.

The weed has robbed several residents their source of livelihoods and poses a serious risk to the few fishermen who risk their lives to fish in the waters.

It was missing in the agenda of the recent Global Blue Economy conference in Nairobi held two weeks ago.

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Prior to the visit, scholars, politicians and religious leaders compiled their wishlist and hoped the President would address the issues.

The list also included the ailing sugar industry. Some of the state-owned sugar mills in the region are almost grinding to a halt as a result of heavy debt.

They hoped Uhuru’s visit would be the game changer in improving Nyanza’s economy.

But in their speeches, all the leaders failed to mention some of the key issues that need government’s intervention.

They chose to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative and the March 9 Handshake.

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Residents had also hoped that the President will make a statement on fate of the Mamboleo-Miwani Road which has been in a deplorable state for several years.

On Wednesday evening, Mamboleo residents planted bananas on the road in a desperate effort to bring the issue to the leaders' attention.

The stretch between the Mamboleo interchange and Mamboleo Market used by the leaders to access the Showground was partially repaired before the leaders' visit.

But while launching the 47km Kisumu-Kakamega road which cost the government Sh7.6 billion, the leaders gave the Miwani road a wide berth, with both Uhuru and Raila only focusing on the Kakamega road.

A section of the crowd fruitlessly gathered at the Mamboleo interchange to have the issue of the road addressed as well as the opening of the Lake Basin Development Authority’s Sh4.2 billion mall, which lies a few meters from the interchange.

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Both Raila and Uhuru lauded the peace deal and urged residents to continue supporting their unity plan.

Raila said the Kakamega road will be highly beneficial to the region and will enable residents access other countries.

“The road is called The Trans-African Highway and will allow us to access Juba,” said Raila.

President Uhuru affirmed to residents the government’s focus on improving infrastructure and provision of quality healthcare.

However, residents were not satisfied with the fruits of the visit, even though they praised the leaders' unity.

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Others took to social media to critique the trip, which they said did not address the region’s economic interests.

“We were hoping that the President would address the issues of water hyacinth, stalled roads and also the ailing sugar industry but it is sad that even our leaders who were given a chance to speak did not even raise the issues,” said resident Michael Omondi.

Uhuru KenyattaUhuru In KisumuRailaRuto In Nyanza