Raila pledges talks with Suluhu to ease border restrictions

President of the United Republic of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga when they met in Tanzania last year [File]

ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday rallied Taita-Taveta residents to support the Azimio la Umoja movement.

Addressing a rally in Taveta as he wound up his tour of Coast region, the former prime minister said he will expand the economy to create jobs for the youth and women.

Raila also promised that if elected president, he would ensure that all children are given equal opportunities in education, from primary to university level. He also pledged to offer subsidised loans to the youth and women.

He said he would also ensure that all Kenyans can access free healthcare under his 'Baba Care Initiative.'

“I will bring economic liberation and expand the economy to create more jobs for jobless youth and women. All vulnerable groups will access loans and be given a seven-year rebate,” Raila told his supporters.

“Do not be cheated by the Kenya Kwanza principals led by DP William Ruto. The group has nothing to offer Kenyans because they have been engaging in empty rhetoric.  The wheelbarrow will not give youth jobs,” he said.

At the same time Raila said he will talk to Tanzania President Samia Suluhu to end perennial cross-border trade restrictions.

“I will talk to the President of the Republic of Tanzania to ensure that cross-border trade benefits Kenyans and Tanzanians. There will be no cross-border restrictions under my watch,” he told his supporters.

Kenyan traders have constantly been complaining that the EAC common market favours traders from Tanzania. Local traders said it has been difficult for them to conduct business in Tanzania due to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions.

“That is why I am calling on Taitas and Tavetas to join hands with other Kenyans to support the Azimio la Umoja movement and my presidential bid as my government will protect Kenya traders and also create a conducive business environment for all,” he said.

Raila said he would also revive the Voi-Mwatate-Taveta-Moshi railway line that collapsed 20 years ago.

“It will boost regional trade as local traders will easily access Mombasa market and beyond,” he said.

Raila’s allies among them governors Granton Samboja (Taita-Taveta), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa) claimed the Kenya Kwanza principals cannot be trusted with the country’s leadership.

Others who rallied support for a Raila presidency included Home Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, nominated MP Maina Kamanda, Taveta MP Noami Shaban and Kieni MP Kanini Kega.

Kamanda dismissed claims by the Kenya Kwanza principals that the handshake should be blamed for the huge debts and high food prices.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina urged Raila to construct dams, in the event he wins, to curb floods.