Scholars, and political and religious leaders in Nyanza are compiling a wish list to present to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will tour the region on Thursday.
The old wish of revival of the region’s ailing sugar factories and clearing water hyacinth from Lake Victoria are the key items featuring in the list that shall be handed to opposition leader Raila Odinga, who will in turn pass it to his “brother” Uhuru Kenyatta.
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The Opposition leaders, who are now supporting the Government, also want a share of State appointments to reflect the handshake between Uhuru and Raila that took place on March 9.
The leaders’ group said the region’s former major economic boosters – Muhoroni and Miwani sugar factories, now in receivership – needed a breath of life from the President.
“Their closure is a blow to more than 500,000 residents who depended on them for economic and social survival” said MP Onyango Koyoo (Muhoroni). He asked the State to consider the option of bailing them out rather than putting them in receivership.
The leaders said they were sad that Lake Victoria was choking with hyacinth and robbing fishermen and water transporters of their livelihoods by the day. They expressed optimism that a lasting solution that would see the weed eradicated would be reached during Uhuru’s visit.
‘’Water bodies like Lake Victoria provide food and minerals, generate oxygen, absorb greenhouse gases and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said environmental scholar Ben Nyakinya.
Mr Nyakinya said lakes determined weather patterns and temperatures and also served as highways for seaborne international trade. He urged the State to deal with the hyacinth menace once and for all.
Minority Leader and ODM Chairman John Mbadi said the leaders were still working on a comprehensive copy of the wish list that would be handed to the President during his Thursday visit to help fast-track the region’s growth.
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Raila, who spend the better part of the weekend assuring the residents that his unity with Uhuru meant well for the people of Nyanza and Kenya, asked the leaders to keep calm and reap the benefits of the handshake unity.
‘’You will see a lot of good things happen in almost all sectors. All we need is your support,’’ Raila said, urging Nyanza residents to turn out in large numbers to welcome his “brother”.
Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi) and Fishnet are some of the regions dead industries that might also feature in the ‘please revamp’ list Mbadi and his team are preparing for Uhuru.
‘’These are not political problems in reality, they are economic problems that are largely dependent on the goodwill of the ruling regime,” Mbadi told The Standard when asked whether Nyanza had lagged behind economically because of its opposition brand of politics.
President Uhuru will be in Kisumu to launch the universal health coverage (UHC), which is a key pillar of his Big Four agenda.
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