Ruto launches national tree-planting campaign

President William Ruto celebrated his birthday on December 21 while launching a national tree-planting campaign. [William Ruto, Twitter]

President William Ruto celebrated his 56th birthday on December 21, which also marked his first 100 days in office and 30th wedding anniversary.

The president also chose this day to launch the national tree-planting campaign. This programme has been heavy on his lips as a replacement for the abolished Kazi Mtaani initiative by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

The campaign is not entirely new, given that Uhuru launched a similar drive in May.

While President Ruto has said those who previously worked on the Kazi Mtaani programme would be absorbed in the tree-planting campaign, the former president had similar plans.

On his 100th day in office, the president also launched the National Police Leadership Academy in Kajiado County, where he announced the formation of a task force to propose reforms in the National Police Service.

Ruto has said reforming the criminal justice system is a top priority of his administration. As soon as he was sworn into office, he signed an executive order to grant the police service financial autonomy, consequently putting the Inspector General in control of the service's budget.

Ahead of the August 9 General Election, he said he would act on corruption in his first 100 days by looking into what he termed politically instigated criminal cases. In the intervening days, cases against his allies, such as a corruption case against Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, were dropped.

The most pressing issue the president said he would address in his first 100 days in office was the runaway cost of living.

Three months later, food prices are still high, as is the cost of fuel, which is bound to further rise, given the Treasury's move to scrap subsidies on kerosene and diesel. This could result in high fares and will undoubtedly affect low-income households that use kerosene for cooking and lighting.

President Ruto would later amend the pledge to reduce the cost of living, saying he needed one year to reduce the price of unga. He is banking on his fertiliser subsidy programme that he says will see an increase in food production.

University Economics lecturer Samwel Nyandemo recently told The Standard that Kenyans were "worse off with the removal of food and fuel subsidies."

To bridge the unga shortage, the Ministry of Trade last month said it would import genetically modified maize, which was sharply criticised by farmers who had just harvested the produce.