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Central, Rift Valley leaders say Uhuru has neglected them

Tuesday June 4 2019

Kimani Ngunjiri

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri addresses journalists in Nakuru Town on January 8, 2019 when he organised a demonstration against Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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By NATION TEAM
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Leaders from the Rift Valley and Central Kenya claim the regions have been marginalised as a result of the peace deal between the Head of State and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The two regions voted overwhelmingly for President Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 elections.

DRASTIC ACTION

Speaking to the Nation, some Rift Valley leaders accused President Kenyatta of ignoring the region after the famous handshake with Mr Odinga in March last year.

They said Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who was tasked by the Head of State to oversee implementation of government projects across the country, has never visited the region.

The CS has also failed to meet them despite doing so with leaders from opposition strongholds.

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On Monday, the leaders complained that no tangible development project has been implemented in the region since the handshake, which has been praised for cooling political temperatures in the country following the hotly-contested 2017 General Election.

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono wondered why the government has sidelined the Rift Valley in terms of development but has been launching mega projects in other parts of the country.

“It is like all arms of government are fighting the Rift Valley. At this rate, we might take drastic steps and declare our stand,” Mr Rono said.

He said mega projects in the region, including the controversial Arror and Kimwarer dam projects, should start as investigations into the loss of Sh21 billion continue.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren said the Jubilee administration had abandoned the region after the handshake despite being the country’s breadbasket.

PRE-ELECTION PLEDGES

Uasin Gishu politician-cum-businessman Zedekiah Bundotich, who recently decamped from Jubilee to Chama Cha Mashinani, said the Rift Valley has nothing to show for being in Jubilee. Mr Bundotich slammed the Kieleweke and Tangatanga groups, which he termed selfish outfits that have nothing new to offer Kenyans. The last time President Kenyatta toured the North Rift was in November last year, where he presided over the Kenya Defence Forces pass-out in Eldoret town.

“It seems the President has been avoiding the region for fear of a backlash from residents over unfulfilled pre-election pledges, including better pricing of maize and whether he still supports the DP’s presidential bid,” said Nicholas Koros, a local political commentator.

The only tangible project the President has launched in the region in recent times is the ultra-modern KCC milk factory in Eldoret town in June 2017.

The factory was revived at a cost of Sh500 million.

The government has also come under sharp criticism for not doing enough to tame runaway insecurity in Kerio Valley, where many lives have been lost.

Elgeyo-Makarakwet Governor Alex Tolgos questioned why Dr Matiang’i had not toured the region to access the situation despite a public outcry. South Rift leaders, including Bomet Deputy Governor Hillary Barchok and MPs Ronald Tonui, Kimani Ngunjiri, Japheth Mutai, and Gideon Koskei, said the government should fulfil its pre-election pledges to residents.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Dr Barchok and Mr Tonui urged the National Assembly to ensure that money for Rift Valley projects is factored in the 2019/2020 budget. “The Sh22 billion secured from the Chinese government for the Bosto water project in Konoin Constituency has not taken off as a result of failure by the government to pay its 10 per cent commitment fee,” said Mr Tonui.

He said that Sh2 billion meant for Kibusto water project in Bomet East Constituency should be included in the budget for the government to fulfil a pre-election pledge to residents. Mr Ngunjiri said the Itare water project has stalled largely because of politics. Mr Mutai urged the government to implement development projects in the region to enable businesses to thrive and create employment.

“Sadly, there are mega infrastructure projects being implemented in Kisumu and the larger Nyanza region whose residents did not vote for Jubilee in the last two elections,” claimed Bomet Senator Christopher Langat.

Central Kenya leaders said no key projects have been launched in the region after the handshake. The President was expected in Kieni Constituency to preside over the launch of Huduma Mashinani and disbursement of money from Uwezo Fund to youth and women groups, area MP Kanini Kega said.

“We got communication that the visit has been postponed to a later date,” Mr Kega said.

At the same time, Coast leaders have demanded more appointments of locals to government jobs.

By Wycliffe Kipsang, Stanley Kimuge, Vitalis Kimutai, Joseph Wangui, Nicholas Komu and Wachira Mwangi