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Diary hitch delays Kisumu port launch

Wednesday August 14 2019

Kisumu port

An image of a section of the revamped Kisumu port taken on August 12, 2019. The port will become a regional hub. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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The government Wednesday postponed the grand opening of the refurbished Sh3 billion Kisumu Port that was scheduled for Thursday.

The Nation independently established that the postponement was occasioned by the clashing diaries of other East African Heads of State who were expected to attend the launch.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to lead six other presidents during the official launch of the project, which for decades has been lying idle.

INDEFINITELY POSTPONED

The revamped port is expected to turn around the economy of the lakeside city and make it a regional economic hub.

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo confirmed that the opening of the port had been indefinitely postponed.

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“The event has been postponed and it will now take place at a date to be announced later,” Ms Mararo told the Nation.

Her statement followed several last-minute inspections at the port led by Nyanza Regional Commissioner James Kianda, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and a team from the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU).

By 6pm Wednesday, the officials were still holed up in a meeting at Mr Kianda’s office.

Other Heads of State who were expected at the event include Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), John Magufuli (Tanzania), Felix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi).

Mr Nzioka Waita, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President did not give reasons for the postponement.

“Please engage the Transport ministry on this matter,” Mr Waita said.

HANDSHAKE FRUIT

The project is considered one of the fruits of the ‘handshake’ between President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Highly-placed sources privy to the plans for the launch confided to the Nation that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were keen on having the other EAC Heads of State attend the inauguration.

“What we have gathered is that most works had been completed but the fixed diaries of other EAC presidents may have occasioned the postponement because the President and his ‘brother’ really need them to attend the event,” the source said.

Other officials who attended a series of meetings led by Mr Kianda disclosed that “a few areas had not been finalised, which occasioned the postponement”.

“For instance, the fencing of the port area has not been done, which is a requirement … there is also need for clearance of the port area. Port land must be reclaimed and fenced off,” the source said.

He went on: “As we speak, NYS are in overdrive, working 24 hours a day. The outer perimeter fencing is being done and the Kenya Railways must also complete the preparation of the lines within the port area and line leading to the Kenya Pipeline Company.”

He said there will be a final inspection tour today at around 9am.

“The PDU must be satisfied that the work is perfect,” the source said.