Western leaders call for establishment of university in Trans Nzoia

Former Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A section of leaders from Western have urged President William Ruto to establish a public university in Trans Nzoia County.

Led by former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, the leaders argued that Trans Nzoia is the only devolved unit in the former larger Western province without a university.

Speaking during the Alupe University first graduation in Busia county on Saturday, Mr Wamalwa, Budalang'i MP Raphael Wanjala and his Teso North counterpart Oku Kaunya said the county deserves to have a public university just like Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma and Vihiga.

"Busia has Alupe University, Kakamega has Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kaimosi Friends university is based in Vihiga and Bungoma has Kibabii university, it is high time we have a fully-fledged public university in Trans Nzoia," said Wamalwa.

According to the leaders, universities have become the new economic hubs and each county ought to have at least one.

"With ailing industries in our region including sugarcane, cotton and coffee, universities must play a critical role in promoting diversification and technology that will help revive these industries that were our economic pillar in the past," he said.

He said institutions of higher learning must contribute immensely to the growth of industries because they are new pillars of economic growth in Western like is the case in other parts of the country.

The former CS said land has been identified where the proposed university project will be established in Kitale. "When president Ruto embarks on his two-day tour of Trans Nzoia this weekend, he should address the issue of the university because the land which was a challenge in the past is now available," said Wamalwa.

At least 1, 000 acres of land that is part of Agriculture Development Corporation (ADC) property has been earmarked for the university project.

Wamalwa and the two lawmakers also demanded increased funding to public universities to enable them to venture more into research.

He insists public universities make use of research to help find solutions to the problems affecting local industries and come up with innovations meant to tap into the enormous resources in Western.

"The universities just need not concentrate on expansion and the prestige but they must use good use of research and technology in helping our factories and the population find realistic solutions to the challenges they are facing," said Wamalwa.

Earlier, Trans Nzoia County governor George Natembeya said they were sorting out land issues that derailed the university project as leaders.

The county chief said the establishment of the university is key to achieving his development agenda because the institution will give poor learners who abandoned studies due to the closure of several constituent university colleges in the area a chance to continue with their studies.