Barely a week after Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leader Raila Odinga traversed Kericho County, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are expected to pitch camp in the region in a bid to shed off the opposition chief’s influence.
The Jubilee duo are expected to launch a series of development projects on Friday, a fulfilment of the Jubilee promises ahead of the 2013 elections and those made during a hotly contested senatorial by-election in march.
President Kenyatta’s visit will be the first to the county on development issues since his election in 2013.
He, however, attended a fundraiser at the Immanuel Africa Gospel Church (AGC) in Kericho Town in 2014.
During his tour, Mr Odinga reiterated his opposition to a Sh38 billion water dam project in Kuresoi North following claims by some Kipsigis Council of Elders that the water project would have negative impact on the environment.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony told journalists in Kericho Town on Wednesday that President Kenyatta and DP Ruto would launch projects in Ainamoi and Bureti constituencies.
“We will be privileged to host the president who will launch road construction projects which will be fully funded by the Jubilee government. As a county, we have benefitted greatly from the government’s development agenda through projects in the health, water and road sectors,” said Prof Chepkwony.
The visit by the head of State fulfills a promise made by DP Ruto on Saturday last week that he would return to Kericho in a week’s time with Mr Kenyatta in tow.
Among the road projects whose construction will be officially commissioned by President Kenyatta and DP Ruto include the 54-KM Brooke-Chepseon-Kebeneti highway which is already under construction as well as the Kericho-Kipchimchim-Thesalia road.
The Litein-Cheborge-Kibugat in Bureti Constituency is also on the list.
There have been complaints over delays in the launch of major road, water and health projects in the county with questions being raised on when the construction of a referral health facility to be established in Londiani will begin.
However, regular assurances by Roads Principal Secretary John Mosonik, National water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation Chairman Julius Kones and Governor Chepkwony have dissuaded fears that the projects may never come to fruition.
ITARE WATER DAM
President Kenyatta and DP Ruto are likely to respond to claims by Mr Odinga that the construction of the Itare water Dam project in Kuresoi North will lead to the drying up of at least seven rivers flowing across Kericho and Bomet counties and eventually lead to desertification.
The Kipsigis Council of Elders led by former Nyanza Provincial Commissioner has rallied the public against the dam which is one of the flagship projects of the Jubilee administration.
President Kenyatta is also expected to tour Bureti Constituency for the first time since his election.
Tea farmers have called on President Kenyatta to use the tour to announce abolition of certain taxes which they say have been levied unnecessarily on the crop which they claim has played a major role in denying tea farmers their rightful income.
Tealand Smallholder Tea Farmers Association (Testefa) Chairman Richard Cheruiyot said the 16 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) levied on tea was too much and should be reduced or abolished to allow more local processing and selling of tea.
“We are also asking the president to assist tea farmers by providing them with fertilizer subsidy. If this is done, farmers will spend less on input and end up earning more money as the price of 50-kilo bag of fertilizer will reduce from Sh1500 to Sh1000,” he said.
Besides the road projects, the president is also expected to update the residents of Kericho on the ongoing water projects including the Sh7B Londiani Dam which will supply water to the larger Kipkelion area and parts of Ainamoi.