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How Moi turned Eldoret from farming centre into near-city

By Stephen Rutto | February 6th 2020

Former President Daniel Moi chats with Moi University Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard Mibey after officially launching the institution's national television station Kenya Television Service (KTS) as the University marked 30 years since its establishment on December 01, 2014. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

When the news of the passing on of former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi broke out, Eldoret town was engulfed in grief.

The fast-growing town mourned a political icon who turned around the agricultural urban centre into a near city.

Eldoret today boasts of landmark projects that set it apart from peers.

From Moi University that was established in 1983 to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), the Eldoret International Airport and oil pipeline, the former president pioneered monumental public institutions that ignited the growth of Eldoret, putting it on the path to becoming Kenya’s fourth city after Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu.

Moi University is the second-largest university after the University of Nairobi, while the MTRH is the second-largest referral health facility after Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

On Tuesday, hours after the sunset on Mzee Moi, key leaders of the institutions established by the former long-serving Head of State lauded him for making Eldoret the town it is today.

Thrown into mourning

At Moi University where the former president was the chancellor for 18 years, between 1984 when the institution was established and 2002 when he retired, teaching and student fraternity were thrown into mourning.

A picture of the late Moi being congratulated by the then Vice President Mwai Kibaki during the first graduation of Moi University in 1985 was placed at the main entrance to the institution’s administration block.

The university’s flag, as well as the national flag, flew at half-mast as the institutions remembered Moi.

Vice-Chancellor Isaac Kosgei said the institution had lost its founder.

“He pioneered Moi University as the second university in Kenya and the first university to be established in a rural setting,” Prof Kosgei said.

Kosgei explained how the university established under the influence of Mzee Moi, who was also a former teacher in Elgeyo Marakwet County, had grown to become a giant institution that has given birth to at least seven other universities.

The new universities that came out of Moi University include Maseno, the University of Eldoret, Laikipia, Kabianga and Maasai Mara University.

On Tuesday, those gathered at Moi University to mourn the retired leader also reminisced how he brought former United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to the institution during his tenure as chancellor.

The move culminated in the establishment of the multi-million-shilling Margaret Thatcher Library located at the centre of the university.

Kosgei said Moi University has had a huge socio-economic impact in Eldoret, employing at least 3,000 people, leading to the establishment of hostels and schools, including Moi University Primary and Secondary schools.

Kosgei said the university was also proud to revive Rivatex East Africa, established by Moi in 1978 when he was still a vice president under the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Instrumental role

At MTRH, doctors and other workers remembered the instrumental role the late former president played in its establishment.

The hospital’s CEO Wilson Aruasa said MTRH was elevated to a referral facility in 1998 under the stewardship of the late Moi.

Dr Aruasa said MTRH has become a central training facility for hundreds of doctors studying at Moi University.

“We wish to send our sincere condolences to the family and to the whole nation for the loss of retired President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Dr Aruasa said.

He added: “President Moi did a lot in terms of conceptualisation and implementation of the idea of the hospital as a national teaching and referral facility. We grew to become what we are today under his leadership.”

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said Moi’s mega infrastructural projects made Eldoret one of the largest towns in the country.

Mr Mandago said the Moi International Airport, MTRH and Moi Girls Eldoret are some of the key projects in Eldoret.

“We mourn and celebrate a life well live, a pillar of our national cohesion, a legend of socio-economic development and a dedicated man of God,” Mandago said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, who has been a close friend of the Mois in recent years, said the establishment of a Kenya Pipeline station in Eldoret by the late Mzee Moi created employment for hundreds of youth.

Mr Tolgos said Elgeyo Marakwet County remembers the late Moi for landmark projects, including Tambach Teachers Training College, Tambach High School, and Moi Kapsowar Girls, which the county chief said was established through personal efforts of the late former president.

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