President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Saturday toured Kisumu inland port to check on the progress of the ongoing rehabilitation works ahead of the launch this month.
The trio made the low-profile inspection visit after attending Dr Joyce Laboso’s burial ceremony in Koru.
It is the first time Mr Ruto is visiting the port while Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have been there a couple of times this year.
At the funeral, in an uncharacteristic change of attitude towards the unity between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta, the Deputy President said he supported the peace pact which is aimed at uniting Kenyans.
“I want to assure my brother Raila Odinga that we are going to work together under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure the country is united,” he said.
Mr Ruto has in the past openly criticised the peace pact, accusing Mr Odinga of insincerity and scheming to scuttle the ruling Jubilee Party.
The handshake politics also resulted in a split in Jubilee, with a group christened Tangatanga, associated with the DP, claiming Mr Odinga was out to scuttle Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential ambitions.
The ODM leader, who has been embraced by a section of the Cabinet and even attended official government functions, on the other hand, retorted with accusations of corruption against the Deputy President, while insisting that his focus and the President was to keep Kenya united and offer the nation the stability it needs for economic growth and development.
The duo has insisted that its interests were purely for Kenyans’ good and 2022 politics has not featured on their discussion table.
After the visit to the Kisumu port, the three-headed to Kisumu State Lodge.
As has been usual with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga's visits to the port, the convoy and security were lean with unofficial cars and no traffic clearance.
While the President has visited the facility on four occasions, Saturday was the first time for the Deputy President.
Mr Odinga has visited the port six times. The government has put in place urgent measures to complete the Sh3 billion project ahead of the launch later this month.
Both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga visited the port twice last month. The port is expected to be launched on August 15, which is the tentative date for the commissioning.
East African heads of state (Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Felix Tsishekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame) are expected to attend the event that is set to signal the journey towards the revival of blue economy in the lake region and position Kisumu strategically in marine activities, including the oil jetty launch.
As has been the norm in the recent past, members of the media were kept at bay as the Head of State used unofficial vehicles to avoid attracting members of the public.
Mr Ruto, while addressing mourners in Fort Ternan, Koru, assured the government of his support for the handshake initiative.
The three leaders also visited the Marine School and the dockyard where the 1,000-tonne and 91-meter-long MV Uhuru ship cargo is berthed.
The trio was also accompanied by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and top government officials.
After an extensive tour of more than one and a half hours, they drove to the adjacent Kisumu State Lodge.
During the President’s visit last month, he called on the contractors to deliver with speed and do a quality job.
Prof Nyong’o said Mr Kenyatta pledged to ensure that the port was operational and ordered that everything must be up and running by August 15.