President Uhuru Kenyatta has handed out goodies to western Kenya residents as he intensified his campaign in the region ahead of next year’s General Election.
The highlight of the Head of State’s visit to the region was the reopening of Pan Paper Mills in Webuye Town, Bungoma County, on Thursday.
The factory has now changed its name to Rai Paper.
And to further sweeten the deal, he directed the Ministry of Industrialisation to award ex-gratia payment equivalent to three months’ salary to workers who lost their jobs when the factory collapsed in 2008.
The former workers had requested the President to ensure they were paid their dues.
“I am aware there are former workers who have died. Their families will be paid the cash,” said the President, who was in the company of Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, Cabinet Secretaries Adan Mohammed (Industrialisation), Eugene Wamalwa (Water) and James Macharia (Transport), among other leaders.
He was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, a host of senior government officials and several MPs from the region.
Addressing thousands of Webuye residents outside the paper mill, the President denied claims by the Opposition that his government only consisted of workers from two ethnic groups.
“Look at my Cabinet. We have several ministers who are not from the Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes,” said the President, giving Ministers Wamalwa, Mohammed, Joseph Nkaissery (Interior) and Fred Matiang’i (Education) as examples.
“We are not tribalists. All we want are people who are committed to delivering services to Kenyans. We don’t look at tribe,” he said.
ALL ABOUT DEVELOPMENT
Mr Kenyatta further announced that the paper miller’s second production line would be activated by June next year.
“An additional 350 jobs will be created in the factory that currently has 500 workers.
“The revival of this factory will be a major blessing to this region. The ripple effects will be immense. Other businesses will come alive and Webuye town will once again be vibrant like it used to be many years ago,” President Kenyatta said.
He added that the next to be revived will be Rivatex plant in Eldoret.
The President also commissioned the construction of the Kapsokwony-Kopsiro-Namwela and the Malinda-Cheptais-Chepkube roads in Mt Elgon, and issued title deeds to squatters at the Chebyuk Settlement Scheme.
He also commissioned the construction of the Kakamega-Navakholo-Musikoma road in Kakamega County.
Mr Uhuru further announced that the Musikoma-Buyofu-Mungatsi road connecting Bungoma and Busia counties will be tarmacked.
On Thursday, the President expressed the government’s commitment to developing the region by improving its infrastructure.
He appealed to residents to stand by Jubilee by overwhelmingly voting for it in the 2017 elections.
“Let us keep political rhetoric aside and focus on developing our country,” he said.
“The Jubilee government has the interest of the people at heart. We will improve your livelihoods,” he went on.
The President also assured Jubilee Party aspirants who would lose out during primaries that they would be given government jobs.
His assurance comes in the wake of chaotic elections across the country to pick interim party officials.
He also urged aspirants who would lose during nominations to stay and support the party in next year’s poll.
“Those who will lose during the nominations should support the winners,” he said.
The President said the Opposition was wrong in always criticising government projects.