, MERU, Kenya, Apr 16 – President Mwai Kibaki on Friday inaugurated the construction of the Sh6.7 billion 82-kilometer Chogoria-Githongo-Meru roads funded jointly by the government and the European Union.
Addressing a massive public rally at Chogoria Girls grounds in Maara District, President Kibaki said the road would open up the agricultural potential in the region and enable farm produce to access markets.
The Head of State, who disclosed that road had remained in development plans for a long time, urged motorists to observe traffic rules and avoid over-speeding.
The President advised drivers to be mindful of the welfare of other road users and avoid recklessness on the improved roads to avoid accidents.
President Kibaki urged the local residents to take advantage of the new roads network and plan ahead to reap maximum benefits for improved living standards.
He expressed gratitude to the European Union for funding the road construction among other projects in the country.
The Head of State affirmed that the government will continue working with donor agencies saying the country cannot meet its development obligations without external support.
The President at the same time urged youth to desist from drug, alcohol abuse and other activities that were in conflict with law and engage in ventures that guarantee decent lives.
Earlier President Kibaki urged Kenyans to vote for the draft constitution and conclude the exercise so as to concentrate on other priority of national importance.
The Head of State affirmed that the country is at a defining moment on the road to a new constitutional dispensation after over 20 year search, an opportunity which Kenyans cannot afford to lose.
President Kibaki who was addressing a roadside rally at Chuka town in Meru South District at the start of his two-day tour of the greater Meru, reassured those opposing the draft that the contentious clauses would be amended later.
“It is time Kenyans exercised their democratic right and to vote for the constitution to end the long wait,” the Head of State said.
On a request by Nithi MP Kareke Mbauni, the President said Treasury will allocate funds in the next financial year to tarmack Chuka Town roads.
The Head of State stressed that creation of administrative units by the government was meant to bring government services closer to wanainchi.
He urged residents of the new administrative units to embrace the concept of private/public partnership and support the government efforts in developing the new districts.
The President once more reassured Kenyans that the government would sensitive to the development aspirations of the country and would do everything possible to uplift the living standards of the citizens.
President Kibaki expressed the government commitment to equitably develop all parts of the country and urged wanainchi to support the initiatives undertaken to improve on their standards of living.
Later the President officially opened the Sh100 million South Imenti Tea Plaza at Nkubu market in South Imenti District.
Addressing roadside rallies at Nkubu and Kariene markets, President Kibaki commended legislators from the Meru region for indentifying with the development aspirations of their constituencies.
The President also called on elders to counsel youth to redsuce excessive drinking and engage in productive activities
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka appealed to leaders to stop making hate speeches that may cause divisions in the country over the impending referendum.
Mr Kalonzo said the ongoing public debate on the constitution should not be seen as a competition between political parties and leaders.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi thanked the President for taking a stand in the draft constitution and leading from the front in the Yes campaign on the draft.
Mr Murungi said the draft constitution is among the best constitutions in the world and he would join other leaders in campaigning for its passage during the referendum.
Roads Minister Franklin Bett said the road whose construction the President commission would be completed in two years.
Mr Bett warned people mining building stones along the roads that activities were weakening the roads and should be stopped immediately.
The Minister said the government will spend Sh40 million to compensate land owners along the road under construction.
Others who spoke during the occasion are area member of parliament who is an assistant minister for Agriculture Kareke Mbiuki and the Head of European Union in Kenya Erick Van Der Linden on behalf of the development partners.
Mr Mbiuki expressed appreciation to the government for writing off loans totaling millions of shillings the meru south farmers owed to Agricultural Finance Cooperation and other lenders.
The President is accompanied by Cabinet Ministers Joe nyaga, Prof. George Saitoti, Beth Mugo and Moses Wetangula, several Assistant Ministers, legislators from the larger Meru and Head of Public Service and Secretary to the cabinet among others.