ODM leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday met elected leaders from western and promised to intervene to have two sugar companies saved from collapse and Pan Paper Mills revived.
He also assured them that he will have people from communities in the region incorporated into government in the spirit of building bridges.
Mr Odinga made the promises during a meeting with 17 MPs led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
The governor had told the former Prime Minister the collapse of Pan Paper Mills and the problems facing Mumias Sugar and Nzoia Sugar companies had greatly injured the economy of the region. He called for quick intervention if the lives of the people are to be bettered.
Mumias Sugar is the main economic mainstay of the region but despite the government injecting into it Sh3.5 billion as bailout in the last three years, the miller continues to struggle with debts, including Sh600 million owed to farmers for cane delivered. It is estimated the company has debts amounting to between Sh26 and Sh30 billion.
Details of Nzoia Sugar’s precarious financial position have been laid out. The company is indebted to the tune of Sh32 billion, with farmers owed Sh530 million for delivered cane.
A source told the Nation that Mr Oparanya delivered the grim reality of the situation to Mr Odinga complete with an update status of the factories and demanded an immediate intervention to ensure the processors are back on the rails.
“The sugar industry is our heart and soul and its problems are painful to the region. The people of Western Kenya have not gained much from the national government’s flagship project and it is our prayer that these millers should be taken as the region’s priority projects,” the source said the governor told Mr Odinga.
Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala asked Mr Odinga to exploit his new-found friendship with President Uhuru Kenyatta to have more members of the Luhya community appointed to senior positions, arguing that the Jubilee government had neglected the region.
He was supported by Mr Oparanya, who argued that the Luhya community has not benefited much from government appointments, and pleaded with the former PM to ensure its members benefit from the March 9 handshake with President Kenyatta.
A similar meeting is planned with the President on a date to be announced soon.
“Mr Odinga assured the leaders of his support,” the source said.
When reached for the comment, Mr Oparanya said the crux of the meeting was to affirm support for the Building Bridges Initiative, “and explore how we can gain from the opportunities brought about by the handshake.”
Kakamega is set to host this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations at Bukhungu Stadium on October 20.
The governor used the meeting to brief the former Prime Minister on the status of the preparations.