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May 30, 2021: President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions the Shs 2.4bn Bondo Water Supply Project in Siaya County. /PSCU.

County News

What Luo Nyanza expects from Uhuru’s visit

KISUMU, Kenya May 31 – After years of neglect, Kisumu and the larger Luo Nyanza is reaping big from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration with the launch of mega projects and commissioning of others.

President Kenyata flew to the lakeside city on Sunday, where he was joined by his handshake partner former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, ahead of Tuesday’s Madaraka Day celebrations.

And apart from the infrastructural development like roads which the president started launching on Sunday, his tour of the city brought joy to many, with an economic boom recorded in the hospitality industry.

“We know that most hotels are full, that is a good thing for the lake city,” said Dr Joshua Oron, a hotelier.

The hotel industry is among businesses worst hit due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged economies worldwide.

“The Madaraka Day is not only being celebrated in Kisumu as a celebration, it also comes with a lot of goodies that His Excellency the President is coming with for the people of Kisumu,” said Oron.

On Sunday, the Head of State launched the Shs1.6 billion Kodiaga-Wagai-Onyirore/Akala, and Nyangweso-Muhanda road circuit, and the Shs 2.4 billion Siaya-Bondo water supply and sanitation project.

May 30, 2021: President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga after the Head of State commissioned the Shs 2.4bn Bondo Water Supply Project in Siaya County. /PSCU.

The road network covers a total distance of 38kms, opening up the fish and sugarcane-rich region to markets in Kisumu and beyond.

On the other hand, the Siaya Bondo water project, funded by the Government and the African Development Bank (AfDB), raised the volume of fresh water supply to the two towns by rehabilitating and expanding the Sidindi Malanga processing plant.

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He was also scheduled to launch the Kisumu port, Uhuru Business Market, Marine School and Kenya Railways line amongst others in the neighboring counties.

“All these projects you are seeing us commissioning are as a result of peace and unity, and I wont stop appreciating my brother because of the handshake,” Kenyatta told roadside rallies during the launch, “The fruits of peace is development, the fruits of peace are opportunities and eliminating poverty and lack amongst our people and that’s why we are asking you to support BBI.”

Kenyatta and Odinga initiated the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that is aimed at changing the Constitution even though it ran into headwinds two weeks ago when the Constitutional Court’s five-judge bench declared it null and void, saying the two have no legal mandate to amend the constitution.

The judges declared the entire process that was to culminate into a national referendum ‘null and void’ but appeals have been filed in Kenyatta said has high chances of success.

May 30, 2021: Kodiaga-Wagai-Onyinyore/Akala, and Nyangweso-Muhanda Roads in Siaya County were launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Shs1.6bn road network covers a total distance of 38kms, and opens up the fish and sugarcane rich region to markets in Kisumu and beyond. /PSCU.

“What is ahead of us, we shall sort it out, I am confident. We cannot be defeated while with lawyers like Senator James Orengo,” he said, and defended the process.

“BBI is not helping his Raila and his family or Uhuru. BBI is meant to help all Kenyans, to ensure all including those in the villages, get development no matter the government of the day,” he said.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that was set to start preparing a referendum question was also barred from undertaking any further steps, with the judges ruling that the approval of the BBI signatures by the electoral commission was unconstitutional because it is not properly constituted with just three Commissioners. They ruled that the quorum for a commission is five, contradicting a previous High Court ruling that set the number at 3.

But on Sunday, Kenyatta who was accompanied by his “big brother” Odinga said the process is still on and urged Kenyans to support it.

“Nobody can stop reggae,” Odinga declared in his characteristic reference to the initiative.

Oron says the handshake that happened between President Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga has bore fruits for the people of Nyanza region.

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Locals said they were happy with the political marriage between the two for the realisation of peace and development in the region.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga display the BBI report handed to them on October 21, 2020 in Kisii. The entire process was nullified by the High Court on May 13, 2021 faulting the president for initiating Constitutional changes.

“We are seeing the benefits of the handshake, the Port is ready for opening, something that has not been there for some time,” he said.

Locals are particularly optimistic that the Port will create direct and indirect business opportunities for the jobless youths.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCC) Kisumu Branch Chairman Israel Agina said a number of people lost their jobs during the expansion of the Port.

Agina said businesses were interrupted as they were ordered out without any relocation plan leaving a dejected lot.

“The expansion of the Port left a trail of job losses and with its opening by President Kenyatta, hope is returning that our people will land some job opportunities,” said Agina.

He further lauded the National Government for giving traders who were affected first priority in the newly built Uhuru Business Park.

“I want to thank President Kenyatta’s administration for conducting a free and fair exercise in locating the traders who were affected,” he said.

Agina appealed to President Kenyatta to offer a stimulus package to the affected traders to help them start again.

“Some of the traders lost their valuables during the demolitions of their structures and it is my humble appeal that they get some financial assistance as they move to the new market,” he said.

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Mariam Abeid, a resident of Kaloleni estate said the visit by the President is ‘God-sent’.

Abeid like other residents says they are happy with the happenings in Kisumu following the visit by the President.

“We saw roads that have been pathetic over the years leading to Mamboleo Showground being done to bitumen standards,” said Abeid.

Fishermen in Lake Victoria too see the visit by the president as an opportunity to have challenges they have been facing addressed.

Kenya Beach Management Unit chairman Tom Guda said the President must address the high taxes imposed on fishing gears.

Guda said fishermen are being pushed out of the Lake Victoria waters due to high prices placed on the gears.

“We would like the President to touch on the high taxes we are struggling with. All the fishing gears have attracted high taxes and we pray they are lowered,” he said.

Nyanza region’s economic power base is in the lake but local residents say the government has done little to support the fishing industry.

Jael Auma, a fishmonger at Oile Market in Kisumu said the importation of fish is slowly killing the fishing industry in the region.

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“This is my 20th year in this market, over the years I have been selling fish from our lake here, nowadays, and you can’t get that fish. Instead we are supplied with fish from other countries,” she said.

Fish farmers in Kisumu said they largely rely on imported fish due to the reduction of fish in Lake Victoria.

The struggling sugar sector is also banking on the President’s visit to make declarations that will give hope to farmers.

The government had announced the leasing of the state mills, the majority of them in Nyanza region but due to court cases, the process has stagnated.

Michael Arum, a Director at Sugarcane Campaign for Change (SUCAM) said the President used a similar public function in Kakamega to announce a raft of measures in the sugarcane sector.

“We are holding our breath to hear what the President will say in regard to the sugar sector,” he said.

Arum is convinced that the government has the capacity and will to turn around the fortunes in the sugarcane sector.

“The President is an authority; he has all the instruments to ensure the sugar sector once again rises. Our farmers have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths,” said Arum.

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