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Ruto faults Uhuru, Raila over high cost of living

Deputy President William Ruto addressing Mombasa residents at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa County on June 25, 2022.  [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders continued with their whirlwind tour of the Coast where they promised to lower the cost of living and audit all capital-intensive project undertaken by Jubilee administration.

Deputy President William Ruto said if elected he will reintroduce a subsidy to bring down cost of fertiliser to Sh2,500 to promote agriculture which will in term lower cost of food.

Speaking at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa, Ruto said the cost of living was unbearable. He accused President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga of turning a blind eye to problems bedeviling Kenyans.

“President Uhuru told us that he gets advice from Raila. If Raila has failed to tell the president to bring down the cost of living, how will he do so if elected?,” posed Ruto.

He said his government will set aside Sh1 billion to buy land from absentee landlords to settle squatters at the Coast. He also promised an executive order to return port operations to Mombasa.

“I want to promise people of Mombasa that once elected I will sign an executive order to return all port operations to Mombasa,” said Ruto who early in the morning toured Kwale County.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the Kenya Kwanza Alliance administration will conduct an audit to find out the cost of all capital-intensive projects undertaken in the last 10 years.

He said no one will be spared in the audit and that anyone found culpable of stealing public funds will be arrested and charged. Mudavadi said the government was in the last-minute borrowing spree to invest in big projects at an inflated cost.

“Kenya Kwanza will audit all national projects which we feel have been done at an exaggerated cost. We must go to the root cause of our debts,” said Mudavadi.

Earlier in Kwale, Ruto promised Sh100 billion to revamp the cashew nuts and coconut industries. He said he will compulsory acquire vast tracks of land from absentee landowners to ensure the land is used to farm and build industries and give squatters land. 

Ruto said already Kwale Deputy Governor Fatma Achani who is seeking to succeed Governor Salim Mvurya on UDA ticket has found an investor willing to invest in the cashew nuts and coconut processing.

“We have agreed that we shall pump Sh100 billion into the cashew nuts and coconut farming and processing industry to create employment, add value and look for outside markets,” said Ruto. 

Ruto held an economic forum with Kwale residents to understand their needs that will be part of the manifesto.

“We need to understand what small traders and farmers need to get more revenue. We will sign a charter with the Kwale people on the issues they feel are of priority,” said Ruto.

A farmer Ali Mondo said the government decision to ban sale of raw cashew nuts outside Kenya has limited their produce market leading to poor prices and huge post harvest losses. “There was an order banning the sale of cashew nuts outside the country which has limited the market reach leading to a waste of the produce and low prices,” said Mondo. He said they need the cashew nuts to be recognised as a cash crop like tea, coffee and khat. 

Ruto also said he will set aside Sh120 million annually for fishermen in Shimoni and Vanga areas to buy modern fishing gears.