President Uhuru Kenyatta’s long-awaited tour of Kisumu and Siaya counties could provide the impetus to revive talks around the country to restore good relations.
ODM leader, and the President’s de facto host, Raila Odinga, says the tour to the once-restive region will signal a move from the post-election chaos that rocked this part of the country last year.
Today, the President will visit Kisumu to launch the pilot phase of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme, one of his pet projects in the Big Four agenda comprising healthcare, food security, industrial growth and affordable housing.
But the tour has been laced with political overtones, given that Kisumu and Siaya, which the President will visit tomorrow, voted to a man for Mr Odinga, who, for the past five years, was the President’s arch-rival, and whose supporters would not hear of such policies.
But on March 9, the two shook hands and promised to work together to address the ills bedevilling the country, notably corruption, electoral misconduct and general economic problems.
The President is returning to Kisumu after more than a year. He last visited in July 2017 when he launched the construction of a keg beer plant and an oil jetty.
Tomorrow, the two leaders will be in Siaya County, where they will be awarded honorary doctoral degrees at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology for their contribution to the peace initiatives in the country following their March 9 deal.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, Mr Odinga said his Kisumu tour with the Head of State will bring together leaders from diverse communities and mark the beginning of their nationwide reconciliation tours.
Mr Odinga urged locals to welcome the guests, saying the meeting will be similar to the 1961 convention in Kisumu that brought together various heads of State and leaders from East and Central Africa.
Yesterday, security authorities in Nyanza said all was set for the events in Kisumu and Siaya counties.
The security team visited the Mamboleo Showground where the event in Kisumu will be held.
Nyanza Regional Coordinator Moffat Kangi said security officials had made all the necessary arrangements to ensure safety for all.
“We have made security arrangements for the events and urge the people to behave in a dignified manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nation learnt that local leaders are lobbying for the President to launch the Sh37 billion Soin-Koru Dam and Water Pipeline, which straddles Kericho and Kisumu counties.
The dam will be built by Frabo Kenya Ltd while the pipeline will be worked on by China Jiangxi.
The dam will supply water to Kericho, Kisumu and Homa Bay counties, and also control flooding in Nyando Sub-County.
Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui has already written to his Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich requesting the disbursement of funds for the project.
He said the project is urgent because it is among the key enablers of the Big Four agenda.