SECTIONS

Sugar sector revival tops Ruto's list of goodies to western region

Chief Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and President William Ruto. [PPS]

The government will write off Mumias Sugar and Nzoia Sugar company debts as part of a major bailout plan.

According to President William Ruto, the government will identify  a strategic investor who will revive Mumias and return the once blue-chip firm to profitability.

Mumias has a debt of Sh4.8 billion, excluding taxes, penalties, and fines while Nzoia owes farmers and workers Sh700 million.

Addressing leaders from Western at Kakamega State Lodge yesterday President Ruto, who began a two-day tour of the region yesterday, said he was committed to fixing the troubled sugar sector.

“We have pumped in about Sh5 billion in the revival of Mumias in the past but there have been no results. The government will clear all the debts at Mumias and Nzoia and put them on the recovery path so that locals can benefit,” said Dr Ruto.

The President promised to complete stalled key roads in Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga, and Busia counties and set up of two dams in each.

Ruto also committed to help construct hostels at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and inject funds into completion and equipping of the Kakamega Level 6 hospital at a cost of between Sh3 billion and Sh4 billion.

The president said they had agreed on mechanisms of how the project will be implemented in collaboration with the Kakamega County government.

“Governor Fernandes Barasa has shared everything with me,” he said. The hospital construction stalled in February due to financial challenges.

“We plan to build at least 100 mega-dams across the country and each county will have at least two of them, including Kakamega,” he said.

He said the government was keen on completing a granite factory in Vihiga and the gold refinery factory at Ikolomani in Kakamega county.

The president said the government will pump more funds into expansion and upgrade of Kakamega Airstrip.

Airsptrip works

He said: “Sh170 million was spent on refurbishing the airstrip and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi will chart the first flight from Nairobi to Kakamega next week and open the facility.” He asked Kenya Airports Authority and the Kenya Civil Aviation to waive landing charges for aircrafts plying from Nairobi to Kakamega airstrip “until the facility picks up momentum.”

Ruto urged Governor Barasa to identify land for the expansion of the airstrip “because the government is ready to give out money that will see the facility expanded to host large aircraft and serve Kakamega and neighbouring counties.” He promised to launch the second, third, and fourth phases of the Hustler Fund to benefit many Kenyans. Ruto said Kakamega will benefit from 20,000 affordable houses and urged the county administration to identify land on which the structures will be erected. 

The president reminded residents of Western that he had kept his promise to give Mudavadi and the Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang’ula plum jobs in his administration.

He invited elected leaders from the Western to work with the government. Ruto asked Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli who was present for forgiveness.

“During the election, we said all manner of things including insults, I said nasty things about Mzee Atwoli, and as a young person I feel it was wrong, I ask you to forgive me,” said Ruto. Mudavadi said the Luhya nation should support President Ruto.