Ukambani governors on Sunday held a lengthy meeting to discuss ways of harmonising their development projects in bid to eradicate poverty in the three counties.
Ms Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Dr Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Prof Kivutha Kibwana emerged from a five-hour meeting in a Nairobi hotel to announce that they had agreed to trade amongst themselves and collaborate to achieve faster development.
In the intra-trade agenda, the trio agreed to buy all garments, including county staff uniforms and clothing for their respective hospitals, from the newly-established Kitui County Textiles factory (Kicotec) while Makueni Fruit Factory will process all the fruits produced in the region.
Primary and secondary schools in Makueni and Machakos will also be encouraged to buy uniforms from the Kitui factory, in the plan seeking to retain the more than Sh7 billion that parents in region spend buying school uniforms from manufactures in Nairobi and other counties.
Kitui and Makueni will reciprocate by bringing their conferences to Machakos town which has better hotel facilities. Machakos sell locally manufactured materials like paving blocks, culverts and building stones.
According to Mr Mutua, the governors — whose counties have already rolled out universal health coverage — mulled allowing patients from the three counties right to receive treatment for free in any public hospital within the region.
"We have tasked our teams to work out modalities of actualising these noble plans geared towards fighting poverty, generating wealth for our people and providing cohesion in the region," Mr Mutua said.
In six months, the Machakos governor said they will have formulated a broad collaboration policy on trade and all other devolved functions and provide the community with donor and trade linkages with national and international networks.
Machakos is among four counties where the national government is piloting the universal health coverage while Kitui and Makueni counties have successfully implemented free health insurance covers for their residents.
"We want to define the development agenda of this region. Our people have suffered for too long because of poor leadership," said Ms Ngilu, adding they'll provide leadership that changes people's lives.
With this trade deal, the governors are confident that they will grow the county economies, develop the region faster and prove that theirs is a better brand of politics.
"We will continue working together for our people and nothing will separate us because we have a clear development agenda for our people," Ms Ngilu said.
Governor Kibwana said that the people of Ukambani will need to be mobilised properly for national issues such as the forthcoming countrywide census, the Big Four agenda and even the proposed referendum.
"Our Meeting focused on strategies of moving our people from poverty to prosperity and from hopelessness to hope as we galvanize our shared resources," said Mr Kibwana.
The three vowed to stick together and ignore those opposed to their new-found unity or avoid those insulting them and promised that they will transform lives in a way never seen before.
"In 10 or 20 years’ time we do not want to be blamed for being sycophants and doing nothing," said Mr Mutua said.
"The time for change is here for the sake of our people."
They announced that in early February they will unveil the agenda and programs for their empowering people