Uproar as Ruto's Kakamega flagship projects miss in budget estimates

President William Ruto, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, Health Cabinet Secretary Ministry Susan Nakhumicha, Kakamega Governor Ferdinand Barasa and a host of leaders during the Inspection tour of Kenya Medical Training College, Ikolomani Campus Library Complex in Kakamega County. [PCS]

Most of the projects that President William Ruto promised to initiate in Kakamega County are missing in the 2024/25 financial year budget estimates.

Ruto had pledged to upgrade the Kakamega airstrip to an International airport, construct a Sh5.8 billion gold refinery plant and allocate Sh3.5 billion for equipping the Kakamega Level (VI) Hospital.

The President also pledged to construct 10,000 affordable housing units on the 34-acre Kakamega Approved School land and fast-track the tarmacking of the Lurambi-Navakholo-Musikoma C41 road that stalled more than five years ago.

However, Ruto did not give timelines for the implementation of the projects.

But during public participation on the 2024/25 budget estimates at Salvation Army in Kakamega town on Wednesday, it emerged that a paltry Sh176 million had been set aside for projects in the county.

The public participation forum was led by Parliamentary Budget Committee vice chairperson and Teso South MP Mary Emase. Members present were MPs Christopher Aseka (Khwisero) and Benard Shinali (Ikolomani).

According to the budget estimates, the government has allocated Sh15 million for renovation of Kakamega State Lodge, completion of a ration store at Kakamega Prisons (Sh6.2 million), construction of an office block for Probation offices (Sh15.5 million) and Kakamega Multipurpose Development Training Institute (Sh3 million).

A paltry Sh35 million has been factored in the budget estimates for the 'tarmacking' of 30 kilometers of Lurambi-Navakholo-Musikoma road.

Construction of the Sh2 billion road was commissioned by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017 and Sh300 million was released to kick off the project.

"The national government has allocated Sh85 million for rehabilitation of Kakamega-Webuye road and another Sh15 million for land compensation for the rehabilitation of Kisumu-Kakamega road," said Ms Emase.

Another Sh2 million has been allocated for the refurbishment of the regional public works offices in Kakamega town.

"We are not seeing the projects the President promised to do for us in Kakamega. Ruto promised to tarmac the Airstrip-Shinyalu-Chepsonoi road from July this year but we are not seeing any budget allocated for it," said Dominic Shivanga from Shinyalu constituency.

"That money you have allocated for the renovation of the State Lodge can be channeled to other meaningful projects. We have Bukhungu Stadium and Kakamega Level (VI) Hospital which require urgent attention. We feel that we got a raw deal," Shivanga added.

Arthur Messeh from Butere sub-county noted that the expansion of Kakamega airstrip into an International airport has not been budgeted for yet it would spur the economic growth of the region. 

Messeh wondered why all key projects the President pledged to implement in the county were missing in the budget estimates.

But MP Aseka told the participants that what was before them was a budget proposal and not the final budget estimates. "What you are asking for shall be added to the final budget estimates and your views are integral at this stage," said the lawmaker.

"I have talked to Governor Fernandes Barasa and he has confirmed to me that Kakamega Level (VI) Hospital has been handed over to the national government for completion," he said and assured that funds will be factored in the budget for completion of Bukhungu stadium.

Committee vice chairperson Emase dismissed the assertion that Kakamega got a raw deal saying the county got more in additional grants.

The devolved unit got Sh250 million for the industrial park, Sh235.244 million for road maintenance and another Sh99.88 million for Community Health Promoters (CHPs). Kakamega will also receive Sh16.038 million for healthcare.

In the budget estimates, the bicameral Parliament has been allocated Sh43.623 billion, the executive will receive Sh2.243 trillion while the Judiciary and devolved units will receive Sh23.69 billion and Sh391.117 billion respectively.

The total budget for the fiscal year 2024/25 stands at Sh3.914 trillion.

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