President Uhuru Kenyatta set for North Rift tour amid grumbling

President Uhuru Kenyatta. [PSCU]

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to preside over a military pass-out parade and commissioning of major projects in Uasin Gishu on Friday.

The president last visited the county on a public engagement in June 2019 when he commissioned Rift Valley Textile Industry (RIVATEX) in fulfilment of the Jubilee government's big four agenda. 

Since then, President Kenyatta has been attending pass-out ceremonies at the Eldoret’s Kamagut Recruits Training School by flying in and out of the venue without engaging with people outside the event.

Observers attributed Uhuru's flights in and out of the region to the sour relationship between him and Deputy President William Ruto. North Rift is considered a Ruto stronghold.

Against the backdrop of the relationship between the president and his deputy, the government has been partnering with Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to construct a sh3.5 billion bypass connecting Cheplaskei and Maili Tisa to ease traffic in Eldoret town.

The project, which is 95 per cent complete, is expected to be commissioned by the president.

There are concerns from residents that the government did not compensate all whose lands were acquired in order to expand the road.

Yesterday, the affected people held a peaceful demonstration at Cheplaskei where the road starts, with the hope that President Kenyatta will hear their cries.

“My two-acre piece of land was acquired during the construction. The promise of compensation made us give it up because this is a noble project. For six years, nothing has come forth, and we have nowhere to turn to,” said Francis Mbugua.

In what will be the president’s last pass-out parade and possibly his last development tour in the North Rift region, leaders allied to the deputy president now say they will welcome him wherever he will be commissioning projects.

The leaders also say the president should deliver all he had promised them when running for his re-election in 2017.

“We have 10,000 squatters in Uasin Gishu who are living on lands allocated to them by the government at Langas area but were not issued with title deeds,” says Uasin Gishu deputy governor Daniel Chemno. 

"They run a risk of being unlawfully evicted if the president will not facilitate fast-tracking issuance of the title deeds."

Chemno says the president had made a promise to complete the settlement issue at Langas, but it hasn’t been worked on till this time.

“With thank Jubilee government for reviving the Kenya Cooperative Creameries, Rift Valley Textiles and constructing the bypass. The government’s mandate will be complete once the president effects settlement of squatters,” said the deputy governor.

The deputy governor urged residents of Uasin Gishu to accord the president a warm welcome.

Despite the strained relationship between President Kenyatta and his deputy, leaders in the region have been telling people to tolerate each other despite their political differences.

“At no time will we allow our people to engage themselves into fights because of politics,” said Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago at a recent rally.  

"We all have a right to live and work anywhere in the country."