, NYERI, Kenya, Jun 1 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday used his address during the 54th Madaraka Day celebrations held in Nyeri to outline the gains Kenya has made in the last four years he has been in power.
The President noted that under his Administration Kenya has become a nation that is competing with the best in the world.
“When I took office four-and-half-years ago, my task was to sustain and speed up the momentum of our development journey; mine has been to lay the foundation for a prosperous Kenya,” President Kenyatta said.
The President pointed out that roads have been improved and new ones built, hospitals have been modernized with modern diagnosis equipment, thousands of Kenyans have been connected with electricity, while the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) – the most transformative project of the Jubilee administration – was commissioned yesterday.
“The Madaraka Express, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a true living symbol of the journey we are undertaking together. It is the foundation for better incomes for our farmers, manufacturers and other businesses,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the SGR entrenches Kenya’s position as a regional hub and opened up opportunities for new markets for goods and services, giving the nation a comparable advantage to compete against other ambitious countries for manufacturing investments that will bring jobs for young people.
President Kenyatta said his Jubilee Administration has also expanded and modernised ports and airports, positioning the country as a logistical centre for the region.
The President also disclosed the Government plans to extend the Thika highway for the benefit of Kenyans who live between Nairobi, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Isiolo; and those travelling north.
“We will also push for the development of agri-business and value addition along that transport corridor, to transform your hard work into higher incomes and jobs,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta said these investments mean that the 60 major global corporations – which make Kenya their regional and continental headquarters – will be joined by hundreds more of their counterparts to enable young Kenyans to move into the professional ranks in their thousands, effectively competing with the best from around the world.
“These initiatives are giving birth to a new Kenya; that Kenya which our founding fathers yearned for. A country in which the basics of a decent life are securely within the reach of our people,” the President said.
On the challenges caused by drought, President Kenyatta said his administration has quickly responded by taking a number of measures, including subsidizing unga (maize flour) until the next harvest season.
He said the Government has also waived import duty so that milk and other foods remain affordable to cushion Kenyans from high food prices, assuring that both consumers and producers will be protected.
The President disclosed that his administration, with support from the World Bank, has also put in place livestock insurance to protect pastoralist communities from losses caused by drought.
“We are taking steps to link livestock farming to markets to make it a more profitable business,” the President said.
He affirmed that the Government has developed irrigation schemes that will free the country, once and for all, from the life-threatening risks of climate change and adverse weather.
“We will be citizens of a country that can feed itself and the region, without regard to the weather,” President Kenyatta assured.
Other measures taken to boost the country’s agricultural productivity include provision of subsidised fertilizer for some farmers and waiving debts for others.
The President said the Government approved the recommendations of the Coffee Sector Implementation Committee and agreed on a debt waiver for coffee-farmers’ SACCOs and unions amounting to KSh 478 million and KSh 1.7 billion on STABEX funds, through the Cooperative Bank of Kenya.
“Consequently, title deeds once held as collateral by the Bank have been returned to cooperative societies and individual farmers,” President Kenyatta said.
He said currently, the Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and the Council of Governors (COG) have together earmarked the upgrading of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange and the rehabilitation of 500 coffee factories in 31 coffee-growing counties.
On electricity, President Kenyatta said his administration has in the last four years connected more than two million homes to the electricity grid.
“My Government understands that every corner of Kenya matters; every Kenyan deserves basic services,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “Our streets have been made safer by the street-lighting programme. Traders now sell their wares far into the night without fear, benefiting from extended business hours. Connection by connection, we are developing into a 24-hour economy.”
On education, the President announced that his administration will make secondary school education free from January 2018.
Deputy President William Ruto said the Jubilee administration’s development agenda has transformed the lives of Kenyans and spread benefits across the country.
“The transformation of Kenya is not just on course, it has picked momentum and it is unstoppable,” the Deputy President said as he also called for peaceful August polls.
He lauded President Kenyatta’s policy to have national days also celebrated in other parts of the country outside Nairobi, saying the move was a step in the right direction in uniting the country.
“I am very proud to be a member of a team that is engaged in building bridges of friendship and partnership among all the people of Kenya,” the Deputy President said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Rachel Ruto, the spouse of the Deputy President, attended the celebrations that were also addressed by Nyeri Governor Samuel Wamathai.