Land tops William Ruto and Raila Odinga agenda for Coast

Margaret Njeri, 82, is all smiles after receiving a title deed in Kinangop, Nyandarua County. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have both promised to address historical land injustices through bulk land acquisition and settlement of the landless.

In his manifesto, Ruto has promised to set aside Sh150 billion as a resettlement fund to address the issue of land fragmentation.

The DP said he will use the fund to acquire land as it happened after the country’s independence in order to avoid land fragmentation that his administration will seek to solve. 

“Kenya Kwanza commits to establishing a fund similar to the one used to acquire land from settler farmers after independence in order to avoid land fragmentation that we seek to solve,” it states.

The DP said the program will be financed by pension funds.

On the other hand, Raila also said his administration will ensure that acquisition, authentication and issuance of title deeds countrywide is strictly carried out in accordance with the law.

Raila did not indicate how much money he will set aside for the resettlement of squatters.

He, however, said that he will institute measures and eliminate corruption in the land administration. in the past, Raila has said he will use the settlement trust fund to buy land from absentee landlords.

“I will secure land tenure for the landless families and squatters in the Coast region and other parts of the country through bulk acquisition and settlement of the affected families and squatters,” Raila promised in his manifesto.

DP William Ruto at the launch of Kenya Kwanza's manifesto at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on June 30, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

On Agriculture, the DP said he will pump Sh100 billion to revamp the cashew nut and coconut industries at the Coast. The cashew nut sector collapsed in the 1980s after the closure of the Kilifi factory.

On the blue economy, ​Ruto said he will set aside Sh120 million annually for fishermen in Shimoni and Vanga areas to buy modern fishing gear, while Raila said his administration will review policies, standards, legislation and regulation that will enable the country to exploit the blue economy.

“Azimio commitment is to give this sector pride of place in its development agenda, covering fisheries, aquaculture, blue tourism, blue biotechnology, ports, and shipping,” said Raila in his manifesto.

On tourism, Ruto said that he will nurture a tourism ecosystem that supports independent travel, particularly for young people including quality secure budget hotels, affordable air travel and safe road travels.

“The main reason why Kenya’s tourism is so far below potential is because of our focus on exclusive high-end tourism which makes Kenya an expensive destination,” said Ruto. 

He said Kenya is now increasingly famous for exclusive establishments that host five to 10 guests or less and charge upwards of Sh30,000 a night, of which very little trickles down to the economy. 

On his part, however, Raila vowed to support the revival of the tourism sector by aggressively promoting Kenya as a preferred tourism destination by positioning and marketing it as a premier tourism destination in the world.

“We shall promote Kenya as an affordable, safe destination in Africa and review visa restrictions that may inhibit travel and promote the diversification of tourism products,” said Raila.

The manifestos have sparked mixed reactions from various leaders. Yesterday Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu led a host of ODM leaders at the Coast to dismiss Ruto’s plan to revive the 1963 one-million-acre scheme and the Africanisation policy terming it as a fallacy. 

Azimio- One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses residents in Migori town on June 30, 2022. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

“I was the Minister for Lands and we issued a lot of title deeds here together with President Uhuru Kenyatta. I doubt whether Ruto has the interest of the Coast at heart when it comes to land,” said Ngilu in Kilifi yesterday.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboka yesterday said UDA’s promise to return port services was not genuine given the DP was the proponent of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

“In Naivasha, Ruto tells residents that the dry port will create jobs for the youth in the area. But when he comes to the Coast, he says he will bring the operations back to Mombasa port,” said Mishi.

But Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi have hailed the DP’s plans for the Coast saying that Ruto has committed to implement them by signing a charter.

Former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar who is also UDA aspirant for the Mombasa governor seat yesterday hailed Ruto’s plan for the region saying it will revive the economy.