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Nyanza leaders’ wish list to Uhuru before June 1 fete

A poster bearing the portrait of President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders along Busia road in Kisumu on May 11, 2021.[Collins Oduor, Standard]

Nyanza leaders and scholars are compiling a wish list to present to President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of next week’s visit to the region.

The revelations came even as reports indicated that the President and his handshake partner Raila Odinga had called a joint meeting with Nyanza leaders ahead of the Madaraka Day fete to agree on projects to be implemented in the region before the Head of State’s term ends in 2022.

The Migingo Island boundary dispute with Uganda, revival of the troubled sugar industry, the cotton industry that once thrived in the 1980s and 1990s, revival of jetties as well as completion of the handshake projects tops the list of issues the leaders want addressed.

And as a prelude to next week’s tour, The Standard has established that State House has planned a meeting with leaders from the region to discuss the development projects.

The meeting will be held on Friday, according to insiders, with leaders from the region optimistic of using the opportunity to highlight the issues they hope the President will include in his fresh bag of goodies for the region.

Yesterday several leaders from the region, told The Standard that they have already drafted their wish list detailing projects in several key sectors including, the education sector, road networks, construction of two Bonyunyu and Koru-Soin dams and the agriculture sector, among others.

Five leaders from the region confirmed to The Standard they have been informed about the meeting.

The development comes as residents continue to raise concerns over the implementation of some projects, including the Sh350 million Jomo Kenyatta Sports Complex that critics say does not meet international standards.

Some residents want Uhuru to fast-track implementation of the projects that some claim contractors have given lip service despite millions of shilling being dedicated to their construction. One of the facilities became a subject of online trolls yesterday over its state.

Leaders and scholars from the region are, however, hoping to take advantage of the visit to advocate for more funding for collapsed sectors.

Nyando MP Jared Okello said revival of the sugar sector and textile industry topped their wish list. “We hope the President will fast-track reforms in the sugar sector as well as privatisation. We hope the mills will get more funding because their equipment are dilapidated,” he said.

In the region, four State-owned sugar mills; Muhorini, Chemelil, Sony and Miwani, which employed hundreds of thousands of locals, are on their death beds. An effort by the President and the ODM leader in 2019 that included proposals for privatisation is yet to bear fruit even as farmers in the region continue to fill the pinch of a troubled industry.

An MP, who sought anonymity, said they hoped the President would also share the business model they had in place for the revived Sh3 billion port. “We want the President to reveal the mysteries that have dogged the new port. Everything around the port has been a secret, but it is our hope that residents will now know the progress of the port,” said the MP.

Development

Nyanza MPs caucus chairman and Seme MP James Nyikal said the leaders had lined up development proposals.

In Suba South, Homa Bay County, residents want the 70km Mbita-Sindo-Magunga-Nyandiwa-Kiabuya, Agolo Muok and Gwasi road tarmacked.

Suba South MP John Mbadi, who is also the Minority Leader in the National Assembly and ODM chair, said the road was key to development. Most roads linking Suba South to neighbouring counties are in deplorable state affecting movement.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who is eyeing the Homa Bay gubernatorial seat in 2022, urged locals to give Uhuru a warm welcome. He said local leaders should seize the opportunity of Uhuru’s visit “and provide a robust economic agenda that will holistically address the myriad of challenges that our people are facing.”

For recovery of the region’s economy, Kidero said leaders should push for water connectivity of Kisumu to Kendu Bay, Kajimo, Homa Bay town, Mbita, Mfangano, Sindo, Nyandiwa and Sori. “The six jetties in Homa Bay should be rehabilitated and the 141 landing beaches developed,” Dr Kidero said.

He vouched for value addition projects and fish processing industries to increase productivity.

The Mbita causeway, he said, should be deepened from the current 2m to 12m depth to improve the ecosystem of the Kavirondo Gulf side of Lake Victoria and increase fish availability.

Kidero also called for building of Lake Victoria ring road from Bumala in Busia, through Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Hills, Homa Bay, Mbita, Sindo, Sori and Muhuru Bay to supplement the water ways and propel the inland triangular trade with Uganda and Tanzania.

Migori MPs led by Nyatike MP Tom Odege said they would have a meeting in Nairobi today and another on Friday at State House to air issues affecting their areas and what they need done.

According to the MPs, some of the wish lists they have is for infrastructure and development.

Odege noted that he would want the President to address the issue of Lower Irrigation scheme, saying that the project was not getting enough funds that would successfully drive it’s operations.

Nominated MP Denittah Ghati said she had been called and said she would confirm if there would be a meeting.

She wants the President to address the issue of Migingo Island where fishermen have been harassed by Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities.

“We want our fisher folk to do their business peacefully,” said Ms Ghati.

She also wants the Isebania-Kisii highway construction completed.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita did not comment on the matter, saying since he was part of the committee, he would only discuss the outcome of the meeting and his wish list as an ODM MP after everything was finalised.

We have so many things that we want done. But I will not talk about them as per now,” Eng. Nyamita said.

In Siaya, leaders are optimistic that the president will help breathe life to Odera Akango University that has been on its knees and lack enough land for its activities.

Yesterday, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo said he is hoping the president will provide them with more land for expansion for the institution.

“We are likely to meet the president on Friday and the main agenda is all about development projects in Nyanza,” he said.

Early this week, Raila toured the region to lay ground for Uhuru’s visit and told the region to brace for the visitors and accord them a proper welcome.

He said the president will unveil several projects that will unlock the region’s economy.

Yesterday, Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika said preparations were in top gear. Already, everything is set with tents erected at the state lodge where the President is expected to meet resident

Also ready was the VIP pavilion,complete with sound systems fixed awaiting Madaraka day, while in the streets portraits of the President and governor Nyong’o have been erected with national flag brands.

Security patrols have also been roundly intensified in and out of Kisumu and Covid 19 safety regulations enforced to reduce possible spread and effects of the viral disease.

Additional Reporting by Olivia Odhiambo and Anne Atieno.

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