Raila vows to relook SGR and Mombasa port working model

ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing elders at Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Centre, Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has urged Mombasa residents to be wary of selfish leaders seeking to govern the country.

Addressing nearly 10,000 local elders at Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Centre yesterday, barely two days since he left the county, Raila said the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) would be revisited.

"There were evil forces who shut it down. There was nothing wrong with the BBI that was introduced legally to boost the Constitution. You all heard what President Uhuru Kenyatta said during Jamhuri Day celebrations; that BBI is a dream deferred," Raila said.

The ODM leader noted that BBI proposed to create 10 additional constituencies in the Coast, with each having a Sh100 million development kitty. "Mombasa and Kwale counties were to get three additional constituencies each, with Kilifi getting four," Raila said.

He said the push to amend the Constitution was on half-time and when the right time comes, it would resume.

Raila promised to prioritise Kenya's economic liberation if elected President. "We have lagged behind despite the potential to break even and be among the best performing economies of the world. Nations like Korea have developed owing to industrialisation initiatives," he said, dismissing Deputy President William Ruto's bottom-up economic model.

Raila pledged to relook the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the Port of Mombasa's working model. "We shall relook the operational modules so that job creation is a top priority... The Special Economic Zone we are talking about will also be scrutinised to ensure it contributes to revenue and job generation for youth," he said.

Raila said there was more Kenya could reap from blue economy with a well-structured policy framework. He cited Namibia and the Atlantic Ocean. "They own a fleet of ocean-going fishing vessels that land thousands of tonnes of fish, which are processed locally in a number of plants before being sold. This can be done locally also," Raila said.

He heaped praise on Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and county ODM MPs, who he described as loyal and dedicated. "Joho has never betrayed me. The other ODM MPs, who are present here; (Mvita MP) Abdulswamad (Nassir), (Likoni MP) Mishi (Mboko), (Jomvu MP Twalib) Badi, and (Mombasa) Senator (Mohamed) Faki are my foot soldiers doing a great job in Parliament," he said.

Joho told the elders he shelved his presidential ambitions to give undivided support to Raila. "I am still young. Baba (Raila) has done a lot for this great nation. Once he assumes the presidency, it will be smooth sailing for me in future," he said.

He said he had respect for the senior citizens, describing them as his key supporters, who he consulted frequently.

Abdulswamad urged Raila to accord local leaders the same support he had given Joho. Also present was Mombasa Woman Rep Asha Mohamed.