Mega projects and plum jobs in the offing as Ruto charms Coast

Ruto is on a three-day tour of the Coast to launch several projects. Today, he is expected to tour the Mpeketoni area in Lamu County before going to Taita Taveta County.

On Friday, Ruto promised to accelerate the Sh39 billion Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project in Mombasa that he said had been delayed by bureaucracy and bad politics for 15 years.

The SEZ on a 3,000-acre land will comprise an export-processing zone, industrial park, free trade areas and auxiliary services is expected to spur Coast's economic growth and create jobs. An international tender to invite investors interested to invest at Dongo Kundu will be advertised before the end of March. "We already have 22 investors who are ready even before we float the international tender to invite them. We want to fast-track this project," said Ruto.

Ruto said that he will in June launch the construction of the Sh40bn Mzima II pipeline in Taita Taveta which has also been delayed for six years. The line is expected to supply water to 1.5 million at the Coast. The bulk water supply pipeline will see the construction of a 210km pipeline to run from Taita Taveta to Mombasa to supply water to Taru, Voi, Mariakani, Mazeras and other parts of Mombasa.

Mzima 2 will have a daily capacity of 65,000 million litres taking the volume supplied from the area to 105 million cubic litres, according to Coast Water Works Development Agency. "In the next 90 days, the contractor of the Mzima 2 water pipeline will be on the ground. But importantly, next month I will launch the construction of Mwache Dam," said Ruto.

The construction of the Sh25 billion multipurpose Mwache Dam in Kwale has been postponed countless times due to disputes over compensation of the locals and the tendering process. In 2018, the constructor, Sino Hudro Corporation and Engineering of China was awarded the tender to construct the dam but the works have not started. Last year, the planned groundbreaking ceremony by then President Uhuru Kenyatta was postponed three times.

The proposed project, located 22km west of Mombasa, is expected to supply 186,000 cubic litres of water daily to Kwale, Mombasa, and Kilifi. The project was mooted in 1995.

Twin bridge

A resident, Mr Ken Kenga, said yesterday that compensation for the land had not been completed. "A majority of residents have not been assured of their compensation," he said. "We will also speed up the construction of the Mteza-Kibundani road connecting the Likoni-Lunga Lunga Highway as we complete the Mwache-Mteza twin bridge," said Ruto. The construction of the bridge at the cost of Sh24 billion is over 98 percent complete while Sh.4 billion Mteza-Kibundani is 60 per cent, according to national government officials. "Likoni-Tanga road will be made a duel carriageway to ease the transportation of goods to Tanzania," he said. The section of the road is part of the 460km Malindi-Tanga-Bagamoyo transnational highway between Kenya and Tanzania being expanded at the cost of Sh41.7 billion. "It is clear that the President has been emboldened with what he got in the last election and wants to build on it for the 2027 election," said Dr Salim Yahye, a political analyst.

Other than the projects, Coast leaders are also pushing for appointments of more locals to State corporations. They want the managing director of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to be local.

"We thank you for the appointment of one of our one to chair the KPA board. We know we will also get the MD seat," said Ali.

Mvurya said it was time that Coast leaders close to the president started sensitising Kenyans on the "good things" he has done for the region.

"With the ongoing politics, I think we should now start to tell our people what this government has so far done for us," said Mvurya. Ruto appointed Aisha Jumwa and Salim Mvurya into the cabinet and rallied his troops in the Senate to elect former Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi as the Senate Speaker. Former MPs Benjamin Tayari and Ali Mbogo have also been appointed to chair KPA and Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council boards.

Key appointments

Meanwhile, Ruto has also retained Mr Eliud Kinuthia as the chairman of the influential National Police Service Commission. Mr Kinuthia is a native of Lamu County.

Mr Ikhwan Omar from Lamu has been appointed the chairman of the Coast Development Authority (CDA) while former Lamu Deputy Governor Francis Mugo is now the head of the Scrap Metal Council in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade, and Enterprises.

On Friday, Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani and Likoni's Mishi Mboko said Coast should be prioritised in the appointment of the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS).

"We know that several people from Coast have been appointed into your government, but we request you to give the region more than one CAs position," Achani told Ruto in Mombasa. According to an advert on February 22, 24 applicants from the Coast have been shortlisted by the Public Service Commission PSC for the CAS positions.

The 240 shortlisted CAS candidates will be interviewed by the PSC starting March 1, and the names of those qualified sent to the president. Among the candidates from the Coast are former governors Hussein Dado and John Mruttu.