alexa Raila mum on trip to China amid claims of Sh368bn loan rejection - Daily Nation

Raila mum on trip to China amid claims of Sh368bn loan rejection

Monday May 6 2019

Raila Odinga

H.E. Raila Odinga with leaders from Garissa County at Capitol Hill, Nairobi, on May 6, 2019. PHOTO | RAILA PRESS 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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ODM leader Raila Odinga Monday remained evasive over his recent trip to China where he also met President Uhuru Kenyatta saying that the government had clarified the matter even as questions continue to linger.

Mr Odinga, who met a delegation of political leaders from Garissa County at his Capitol Hill office, declined to comment about the trip despite claims that China had flatly rejected Kenya’s request for a Sh368 billion loan.

The loan had been earmarked for the extension of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line from Naivasha to Kisumu.

“I don’t know why the media is so much into the China trip… State House has issued a statement clarifying the matter. This meeting (with Garissa leaders) was never about the China trip,” he said.

Mr Odinga, the Commission of Africa Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, had a few days before the trip, on his way to a funeral service in Nyakach, Kisumu, assured residents that part of his trip was to ensure the SGR reaches Kisumu.

He made the comments in Dholuo, the local dialect.

This would later be interpreted by Kenyans to mean that he was part of the Kenyan delegation in China to offer support for the loan. State House would later clarify that the loan was not part of the agenda between presidents Kenyatta and China's Xi Jinping moments after claims that the negotiations fell through.

Mr Odinga’s comments in Kisumu came even after a statement issued by the Commission of African Union on April 21,  indicated that he would be in China from April 25 to 27,  for the Second Belt and Road Forum.

"I will be part of the delegation that will accompany the President to the Asian country next week. The new SGR line will extend from Naivasha to Narok, Bomet, Sondu and finally Kisumu," Mr Odinga is quoted telling a crowd during a stopover rally at Sondu market in Kisumu.

The AU commission envoy also explained that the loan would help revive the Kisumu inland port whose fortunes have dwindled due to the collapse of the railway.

But even as he made the statement, State House operatives did not seem to have issues with it until China’s rejection of the SGR financing.