The coronavirus pandemic has robbed Kisii County an opportunity to host this year's Madaraka Day celebration slated for Monday.
Kisii was poised to be the first county in Nyanza to host the annual national event outside Nairobi.
But the county leadership has now confirmed that they cannot host the event, despite its massive preparations that gobbled millions of shillings.
On Tuesday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said the event will be held at State House and beamed to Kenyans on television and virtual platforms.
“The mitigation efforts on the spread of Covid-19 as guided by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation prohibit mass gathering of whatever nature. In the current circumstances, therefore, inviting large numbers of people for this event shall not be possible,” said Kibicho.
And yesterday, Kisii County Commissioner Stephen Kihara promised that the government will not abandon any development project that was underway ahead of the annual celebrations.
Mr Kihara said most of the projects were 95 per cent complete.
"We will ensure they are done up to the required standards. The government has signed tender documents with all the contractors and we expect them to achieve the set targets. "
The commissioner noted that other than the projects that had been earmarked for Madaraka Day, the government is undertaking other development projects including the construction of Suneka Airstrip, which he said has been completed and was awaiting the laying of the red carpet at the waiting bay and the VIP section.
Other projects include the construction of Daraja Mbili market, which has been done in conjunction with the county government.
The Standard has since established that most hotel ownershad spent millions of shillings in sprucing up their business premises as requested by area Governor James Ongwae in early March.
“All that has been in terms of improving infrastructure for the good of our people. Coronavirus is a pandemic that has affected economies. For now let us maintain the standards and guidelines that have been set by various bodies and the government,” said the governor yesterday.
Clouds Hotel Manager Festus Kebaso said the hotel industry in the region was at its peak and was to have the opportunity to test its accommodation capacity.
“There is stiff competition in Kisii. Guests have been calling to confirm our rates; all that is gone,” he said.
Samuel Borura, the Kisii Chamber of Commerce chairman, said the event was to present an opportunity for locals to present various business skills.
“Our leaders should remain united and ensure that we have the opportunity to host coming events,” said Mr Borura.
Peter Okerio, a resident and businessman in Kisii, had already renovated a 50- seater capacity hotel right across Gusii Stadium, the planned venue for this year's celebrations.
"We have made losses but there is hope that we might get an opportunity to host another national event in the county before end of the year. We must abide by the guidelines issued by various bodies in the fight against the pandemic," said Okerio.
In 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that two out of Kenya’s three national days be hosted on rotational basis by counties outside Nairobi.
President Kenyatta had observed that the decision was aimed at boosting national cohesion and integration. The three national days are Madaraka, celebrated on June 1, Mashujaa (October 20) and Jamhuri (December 12).