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William Ruto to revert port operations to Mombasa, cut off Nairobi 'cartels'

Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has promised to return port operations to Mombasa and deal with those who had allocated themselves port jobs in Nairobi.

Ruto said the  Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) was a noble idea but had been taken over by State capture, thus making it a grandiose project with little benefit to the people because it had become captive of conflict of interest.

“The port was moved to Nairobi and some people saw an opportunity to make a loot by awarding themselves its operations in Nairobi. The project would pay itself if it was implemented as envisaged,” said Ruto.

He said the concept was to have SGR, connected with the special economic zone in Dongo Kundu and an industrial park in Naivasha that would make the railways profitable, hence pay itself as had been planned but blamed people who are forcing investors who wanted to put money on Dongo Kundu, to partner with them.

“We will revert the port operations to Mombasa. We will ensure that the trains move 18 cargo trips per day from the current 9 and by so doing it will repay itself,” said Ruto.

In Naivasha, Ruto said they will put up huge leather and textiles factories that will provide cargo for transportation by SGR to Mombasa.

The industrial city in Nairobi and Naivasha special economic zone would make leather and textile products for export.

In Naivasha, Ruto said they would take advantage and tap into cheap power and free steam from geothermal energy, and that would help the leather and textile industries.

“The leather industry is worth Sh15 billion and will be scaled up to Sh120 billion. The farmers told us we are throwing away skins and hides. On cotton, we will invest and put up several ginneries then tap into the world market,” said the DP.

Ruto said in his government, agriculture will be the cornerstone of job creation and economic revolution because the sector had a huge multiplier effect.

He said the government would improve productivity through subsidies to farmers, proper extension services that improve productivity ensuring Guaranteed minimum Return (GMR).

“We target to turn around the fortunes of two million farmers who are now net importers of food to not only self-sustainable people but with returns. We know how much we will spend, and we want them to produce a surplus,” said Ruto.

On health, he said they would expand contributions for NHIF from Sh1,700 to Sh3,000 for high-income persons and at the same time reduce it to Sh300, from Sh500, for the low income earners.

“Many Kenyans are wondering what will happen when they fall sick, and 30 per cent of the population are just a disease away to poverty,” said Ruto.

He said the heath bill was Sh550 billion, half of which was shouldered by the government while 27 per cent was from households paid directly and 10 per cent by insurance, but in the Kenya Kwanza model, every household will benefit and get treatment without paying a shilling,” said Ruto.

He said Kemsa was not giving Kenyans a benefit in bulk purchases, while private hospitals got better deals. “The problem in Kemsa is corruption and conflict of interest. We plan to benefit from best practice by making the process competitive. We need a health management system so that health records are transferable; if you go to one hospital from the other, they progress your treatment,” said Ruto.

Ruto said they would encourage farmers to adopt modern farming techniques, including making sure every farmer has information on the available options. “Our undoing in the agricultural sector has been lack of extension services,” he added.

“In our plan, we are putting more money into extension services than even in the revolving fund, because we realise that it is the quality of the information a farmer is operating with that will make him productive. The farmer needs to know which pesticides have been banned, and which pesticides carry more residues than others,” he said.

He said extra-judicial killings must come to an end. “Every criminal whatever their crime must be taken to court. It is the surest way to stop killing innocent people, otherwise, you will end up with many dead innocents. Unless a criminal poses danger to the police,” he said.

On the ‘Hustlers’ fund’, he said the shylocks are making a killing. “We want to organise them (traders and entrepreneurs) through savings and credit societies, cooperatives, and table banking so that they can access cash at 3 per cent per year. By improving the place of work through legislation and access to credit, then we can double the income of 10 million people,” he said.

On public debt, he said Kenya borrows at 10 per cent, and if this is reduced to eight per cent, the country would pay Sh550 billion in interest to the domestic market. The difference that would be saved would be Sh110 billion a year, which will go into reducing the debt and also funding projects.

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