Huge expectations ahead of Uhuru's Western region tour
By John Shilitsa
| July 20th 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta will have a full plate during his planned tour of Western next month.
A section of leaders from the region started piling pressure on President Kenyatta’s administration to release funds for stalled multi-billion-shilling projects in the region ahead of the visit.
The projects include the revival of ailing sugar factories, upgrading roads and rehabilitating airstrips.
Some of the leaders believe funds ought to be released by the government for the completion of specific projects ahead of the president’s tour.
National Assembly Majority Whip and Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe welcomed Uhuru’s planned tour.
However, he urged him to direct the National Treasury to allocate Sh5 billion for the implementation of Mumias Sugar Company turnaround strategy, which he initiated during his first term in office.
“President Kenyatta can allocate the debt-ridden firm Sh5 billion from the exchequer even before he visits the region,” Wangwe said on Saturday. The Jubilee legislator said using exchequer funds to bail out the troubled sugar firm would end controversies surrounding its lease arrangements.
Last week, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa disclosed that President Kenyatta will make a development tour of the region and urged residents to prepare to receive him.
According to Wamalwa, President Kenyatta will commission major development projects, including the planned construction of the Sh100 million Kakamega Gold Refinery in Ikolomani Constituency, a granite factory in Vihiga, key roads in Bungoma, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia and Busia, among other national government-funded projects.
In June 2020, Wamalwa, who visited Busia County, indicated that the national government would revive the cotton industry in the region with a focus on promoting Bt cotton.
So far, Malakisi cotton ginnery has been revived and local farmers have been encouraged to embrace cotton farming to keep the ginnery afloat.
Josphat Shikuku, a resident of Kakamega, said locals expect President Kenyatta to give a clear roadmap on how stalled road projects will be handled.
They include the 45km Lurambi–Navakholo–Musikoma road being upgraded at Sh2 billion and the Ibokolo–Shianda–Navakholo–Malava road being rehabilitated at Sh1.17 billion.
“The two roads are key to the economic growth of our county because they provide a critical link between Kakamega and neighbouring counties of Bungoma, Busia and Siaya. They ought to be completed,” said Lurambi MP Titus Khamala.
In Trans Nzoia, the president is expected to commission the construction of Suam One Border Stop. The post will facilitate the free movement of goods and people between Kenya and Uganda.
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