Jamhuri celebrations in Nyanza and Western Kenya were marked with pomp and colour with county bosses using the occasion to spell out their development agenda to residents.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya outlined the milestones achieved by his administration at the Jamhuri Day fete at Bukhungu Stadium and pledged improved infrastructure and delivery of services to residents in his final term in office.
Mr Oparanya said the county government had allocated 33 acres of lands for construction of 3,000 housing units in Kakamega and Mumias town to ease a housing shortage in the region.
Governor Oparanya did not give details on the cost of the project to be implemented in partnership with the State Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The County chief said the first phase of the 750 bed Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital will be commissioned in March next year. The first phase of the hospital is estimated to cost Sh 2.5 billion.
The celebrations at Bukhungu were attended by residents from the twelve sub-counties.
Mr Oparanya said his administration had recorded impressive milestones in rolling out flagship projects targeting infrastructural improvement in the region.
The key projects include construction of phase two of Bukhungu stadium, upgrading of roads to bitumen standards and gravelling of 2,700 kilometres of roads under the 10 kilometre stretch of roads in each of the 60 wards.
Governor Oparanya said: “We have also prioritised provision of clean water to household by 2022…as well as connection of rural households to affordable electricity.”
In the health sector, the county government has enlisted 9,000 households in the Universal Health Coverage Programme under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
In Kisumu, Governor Anyang Nyong’o hinted that plans were underway to construct a 4kilometre dyke along River Nyando as a long lasting solution to the annual flooding that occurs in the surrounding area.
However, security and unemployment dominated the celebrations held at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground.
Kisumu County Commissioner Susan Waweru asked residents to be vigilant during this festive season and report any suspicious acts of crime.
"We are having a new trend of crime and criminals. In the recent past, we have had numerous reports of women attacking locals with knives and stealing from them. This is a warning to every criminal regardless of your gender, know that you are on our radar this festive season," said Ms Waweru
The Speaker of the County Assembly Mr Elisha Oraro raised concerns over the rising rate of unemployment in the county despite a huge wage bill.
"It is a great challenge when the wage bill is high and most youths are facing unemployment. The only solution is creating informal employment to cut on the number of youths that are unemployed," he said.
In Kisii, Governor James Ongwae reiterated his resolve to provide better health care and other services.
Mr Ongwae gave a warning to health officials in the county whom he said must not compromise services offered to residents.
"I want to urge health staff to diligently dedicate their time to give quality services to our people and take note that theirs is a service to humanity," said Mr Ongwae.
The governor, who was joined by county commissioner Stephen Kihara at Gusii Stadium, called on security agents to be vigilant during this festive season.
"The security officers should hold a meeting with my enforcement officers to plan on how to safeguard residents and their property this festive season," said the county chief.
Mr Ongwae said he will continue working with the national government as well as other stakeholders to ensure development for residents.
"I wholly support President Uhuru Kenyatta in all his endeavours and as a county government, we are implementing the Big Four Agenda," he said.
Governor Wilber Ottichilo of Vihiga County said pending bills, lack of qualified staff and delayed exchequer releases are the biggest threats to development in the devolved unit.
Dr Ottichilo noted that the three are the main challenges clawing back the strides made by his administration.
In his speech at Municipal Grounds, Dr Ottichilo said his administration has been forced to pay bills for works not done.
Currently, the National Treasury has withheld funding to most regional governments over failure to comply with the presidential decree requiring them to pay all the pending bills accrued between 2013 and 2018.
Vihiga was among the affected counties but has since allocated Sh450 million to pay part of the Sh800 million debt.
At the same time, the devolved unit has formed a committee to re-look into the Sh1 billion ineligible pending bills.
"I must note that as much as we have made strides in development, it is important to also inform you that we have not been devoid of challenges," said Dr Ottichilo.
Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama expressed his desire for better health care to residents in a bid to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
Mr Nyagarama said his government had undertaken several projects and programmes to achieve UHC.
The county chief said the establishment of a renal unit at the Nyamira County Referral Hospital has helped people with kidney problems and they no longer have to travel far to seek such services.
“We have also constructed new operation theaters at Kijauri, Nyamusi, Manga,Gesima and County Referral Hospital,” he said, adding that they have installed an Oxygen generating plant at the county’s main hospital.
Celebrations for MumiasWest sub-county in Kakamega County were held at Ingusi Primary School with talks on the revival of the country's giant sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company taking the center stage.
Area MP Johnson Naicca led a host of local leaders in urging the receiver manager Mr Polingipalli Venkata Rao to hasten the revival process.
The MP challenged the receiver manager to give priority to natives of Mumias in employment opportunities.
"The new recruitment exercise of employees to work in Mumias Sugar Company should favour the natives from the Wanga community who gave out their land for construction of the factory and establishment of the nucleus estate," said Mr Naicca.
He cautioned the new management of Mumias against discriminating locals saying the vice was promoted by the former management and contributed to the near collapse of the miller.
In Siaya, residents were asked to move to safer grounds to avoid effects of the current floods occasioned by the heavy rains pounding parts of the county.
The Jamhuri Day celebrations were held at Ndenga secondary school in Ugenya Sub-County.
Siaya county commissioner Michael Ole Tialaal appealed to members of the public to volunteer information on armed gangs that are terrorising the residents to help police to deal with cases of insecurity in the county.
"I also want to appeal to the parents to guide their children properly during this festive season and protect them against possible cases of defilement that are becoming common " he said.
In Homa Bay, the war on corruption, insecurity and poor infrastructure took centre stage.
Leaders and residents expressed concern over rise in cases of corruption in the county.
They also expressed concern over rise in insecurity cases specifically in Sindo town in Suba Sub County and poor infrastructure in the area.
Governor Cyprian Awiti who led other leaders including County Commissioner Harman Shambi, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata and County executive members declared war on corruption in the county.
He told county government officials in the county who have been implicated in graft to carry their own cross.
The governor referred to ongoing cases of corruption in which several officials of the devolved unit have been charged in court.
Reported by Ruth Mbula, Benson Amadala, Sharon Achieng, Derick Luvega, Shaban Makokha, Dickens Wasonga, George Odiwuor, Donna Atola and Lenny Otieno