Ruto remarks on Naivasha dry port economic sabotage, Lee Kinyanjui says

Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority officials offload cargo from the SGR train to the Meter Gauge Railway cargo train at the Inland Container Depot in Mai Mahiu Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has hit at Deputy President William Ruto over his remarks on Naivasha dry port.

Kinyanjui said the remarks by the DP that he would reverse some aspects of the  SGR and port of Mombasa contracts if he won the presidency in the August 9 polls is a clear testimony of economic sabotage.

 While terming the remarks as reckless and contemptuous, Mr Kinyanjui warned that the county would take DP Ruto head-on in rejecting the planned move.

On Tuesday Ruto said the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project was hijacked to enrich a few individuals. 

Speaking at his Karen residence when he welcomed the Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) party led by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi to his Kenya Kwanza coalition, Ruto promised to, should Kenya Kwanza win the August 9 election, undertake administrative and legal steps to reverse some aspects of the project which, he said, had become the biggest impoverishment to the people of Mombasa and the Coast region.

In the same venue, Kingi said they had signed a pre-election pact with Kenya Kwanza that would, among other things, reverse all operational changes carried out in the recent past, whose effect had been to relocate some of the core activities of Kenya’s main seaport from Mombasa to inland depots in Nairobi and Naivasha.

“The port operations have all been moved inland and that has caused immeasurable suffering to the people of the Coast region, hence the need to reverse that,” Kingi said.

There has been controversy surrounding the cargo handling business at the Port of Mombasa amid reports over its leasing out by the State.

In 2019 there were concerns about the handing over of the running of the second container terminal and one berth to the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL), which is partly owned by private firms.

Governor Kinyajui said: “We are shocked and dismayed by utterances attributed to a section of leaders promising that operations of the Naivasha Dry Port and railway will be reversed should their coalition win.”

The governor challenged the Kenya Kwanza to engage in conversation on how to enlarge the national cake instead of entertaining retrogressive policies targeting certain regions for short-term political expediency.

“After years of gross marginalisation and neglect, they have now resorted to economic sabotage of Nakuru and we shall confront it with all the force necessary,” he said. 

Earlier the county had formed a 10km buffer zone around the dry port with an aim of providing a framework to guide development within the zone.

According to Nakuru County Chief Officer for Lands Judyleah Waihenya, the development of the buffer zone would help regulate the use of land and preserve fragile ecosystems within the buffer.

She said the plan would guide the development of social and physical infrastructure and provide harmonised standards for guiding the development of the buffer zone.

“The purpose of this plan is to provide a physical development framework that will seamlessly integrate development within the buffer zone and the industrial park,” she said.

Waihenya said so far 77 investors have been cleared to start businesses in the park that would be served by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line.

“Tens of investors had expressed their interest in investing on these 50 acres of land and we have picked as we wait for approval from the assembly,” she said.