It was obvious the recent trip by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to China would generate a lot of heat. First, there was no official communication about their departure and the purpose of the visit.
Secondly, Raila announced that he would accompany Uhuru to borrow money for construction of the second phase of SGR from Naivasha and Kisumu. Raila went ahead to give details of the towns where the railway line would pass.
Thus, after reports China had rejected Kenya’s request for Sh368 billion loan, Kenyans had reason to believe it. Raila has been working with Uhuru since the handshake and the assumption was he could not have given such details about their trip before discussing it with Uhuru.
Raila has maintained he has not joined the Government and that he is still the leader of opposition. Uhuru has also stated as much, noting they only agreed to work together for the sake of peace.
All in all, it is wrong to create an impression the President was in China just to beg. To start with, Raila could have travelled to China in his own capacity as AU envoy for infrastructure. In his capacity, Raila has a role to support development of infrastructure in his country.
The meeting in China was held in camera and therefore, nobody knows what Uhuru, Raila and their host discussed. Yes, Transport CS James Macharia revealed China has offered Kenya a loan of Sh40 billion to rebuild the old Naivasha-Kisumu-Malaba railway. However, the CS did not respond to the question onf whether China turned down Kenya’s request for Sh368 billion.
Therefore, the reports Uhuru and Raila’s loan request was turned down are misleading and intended to drive a false political narrative that they do not mean well for Kenya. Apart from Sh40 billion, Uhuru signed a deal to build an Expressway from JKIA to James Gichuru Road and secured market for Kenyan avocados.
He also secured funds to build Konza City, a dry port and industrial park in Naivasha. Some of these projects, including the SGR, were conceived during the government of President Mwai Kibaki where Raila was PM. Uhuru and Raila were also in China to attend a meeting of 80 countries from Africa, Asia and Europe, beneficiaries of Chinese loans