As he seeks to cement his legacy before his term ends in 2022, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday announced key projects that will uplift Coast region’s economy and create employment for its people.
Addressing Kenyans during celebrations to mark Mashujaa Day in Mombasa, the President said a number of projects in the region had been completed while others are underway.
“We understand there are challenges, but the government is committed to addressing them and the investment it is committed to making will improve the economy of the region,” he said.
Mombasa has in the recent past witnessed protests by groups affected by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which, they claim, has taken away business and employment opportunities, almost killing the region’s economy.
But the President said there was tangible progress in the region, citing the Dongo Kundu Bypass, the Bamba-Mariakani road, the link road from Tsavo East to Malinda and the Garsen-Witu road as some of the projects implemented by his administration.
“In the past six years, the counties of Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Mombasa and Tana River received close to Sh190 billion to run devolved functions, and the government has undertaken tangible steps to address their unique development needs. The region has been more targeted by the my government than any other region in the history of this country.”
The celebrations were held at the Mama Ngina Waterfront.
Last Friday, President Kenyatta commissioned a number projects, including the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Mombasa County, seen as a major compensation for the hundreds of jobs lost after the directive that all cargo be ferried by the SGR.
Other projects are the Miritini-Mwache-Kipevu new container terminal II Link Road, the Moi International Access road and the Port Reiz Road.
The Makupa-Changamwe Road is more than 60 per cent complete.
The President said the government will continue investing in the country’s ports to create more jobs and ensure more ships call.
He cited the expansion of Mombasa port as an example, noting that the volume of cleared cargo has doubled since Container Terminal II was built.
He added that thousands of people directly depend on the facility. “The significance of the Mombasa port is underscored by the more than 8,000 workforce depending on the facility directly, and we intend to invest more as the government hastens the process of reviving the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL). We told the stakeholders to support the transformative initiative that is geared towards cementing Mombasa as a logistical hub for region and continent,” he said.
The President’s call for support to revive KNSL comes a few weeks after a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) was thrown into limbo after a High Court ruled that the amendments to Section 16 (1) (a) of the Merchant Shipping Act were null and void.
The seafarers union remains optimistic that the ruling won’t affect the deal.
The ruling threw in a spin government efforts to privatise the Sh27 billion Container Terminal Two (CT2) at the Port of Mombasa.
High Court judges Erick Ogola, Alfred Mabea and Mugure Thande had ruled in a case the Dock Workers Union (DWU), the Taireni Association of Mijikenda and Muslim for Human Rights had filed.
The President said government plans to revive KNSL will not be reversed, and they will take all measures to ensure it succeeds.
“We cannot stand back in our pursuit to secure our national interest in the shipping industry,” he said, adding that efforts to localise the shipping industry and ensure youth secured jobs in Kenyan flagged vessels are unstoppable.