African Press International (API)

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Kenya: Grand coalition is set to boost economic growth

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

Parts of the previously marginalized western regions should expect increased development activities in the near future and will never be kept in isolation again.

The Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga declared this before a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic supporters who thronged this years ASK Agricultural Show at the Mamboleo Show Ground in the outskirts of Kisumu City at the weekend.

The function was Mr. Odingas first major official engagement inside Luo-Nyanza when he officially declared the Show open amid prolonged applause and ululations and shouts of Agwambo, Agwambo.

He said the region had suffered economic isolation under successive regimes over the years, but the grand coalition would ensure this is never repeated again.

I am well aware that this region from economic marginalization over the years, as borne out by a number of studies by the Planning Ministry over the years, said the P.M.

Mr. Odinga made what political pundits and observers alike termed as a major policy speech when he presided over his first official function in his Nyanza home turf since becoming Prime Minister under the Grand Coalition government accord..

Railas entourage which was made up of more than a dozen cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, MPs and top government officials had a lot of difficulties accessing the Show ground, a five minute drive from Kisumu City Center. Huge crowds made it nightmare for Agwambos convoy to maneuver its way around the lakeside city.

The area is perceived to be the bedrock of his political support and it proved this beyond any reasonable doubt when the city streets were jumped to capacity all along from the airport to the city centre from as early as in the morning. The police had hard time keeping vigil to ensure the function was incident free.

Raila promised his audience that he would act tough and precisely against corruption, land grabbing, insecurity and also tackle the issue of poor infrastructure, which hinders investment in Kenya.

Any government officer found to be involved in corrupt practices will go home, declared Mr. Odinga, adding that with the upgrading of Kisumu Airport, which was now due, Western Kenya would be opened and linked to the wider world.

The Prime Minister urged the residents to monitor International trade trends and identify areas they could exploit to the maximum..

Raila said the recently released HIV and AIDS prevalence report had put Luo-Nyanza on top. He appealed to the residents to take necessary precautions to reduce infections. Among recommendation he made was the need for male voluntary circumcision

The PM promised to write off the Kshs 47 billion owed to the Agricultural Finance Corporation, a parastatal organization by Sugar Millers as one way of resuscitating the ailing sugar industry. And at the same time he told Sugar Cane farmers in the Western region that the government would arrange affordable credit for them to increase their yield.

Raila praised the recent regulations on the importation of sugar into the country and expressed full support on action recently taken by the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto who had imposed a total ban on Sugar imports to curb illegal stocks that sell cheaply at the expense of local produce.

The PM gave a stern warning that the government would use its agencies to impound and burn illegal sugar stocks sourced from the outside country.

Nyanza province, said Raila, was especially segregated during the Kenyatta era following disagreement between the first vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the founding President Jomo Kenyatta. The region, he added, was further shunned by the Moi administration as its leader allegedly engaged in bad politics.

Odinga disclosed that an investment conference like the one he attended in London last week be replicated in Kisumu City to showcase what this region can offer to those who seek to partner with us.

The PM also disclosed that the grand coalition government was planning priority on health, cooperative and irrigation projects to quickly address challenges constraining economic productivity in Western Kenya.

Mr. Odinga also asked insurance Companies to compensate people who incurred losses in Post-election violence.

Many people had suffered losses, but had yet to be compensated. More than 100 were shot dead and hundreds of businesses suffered severe damage in the aftermath of looting spree.

Present at the function were Ministers William Ruto (Agriculture), Dalmas Otieno (Public Service), James Orengo(Lands), Dr. Paul Otuoma (Fishaeries), a host of Local MPs and ASK Kisumu branch officials led by Mr. Rhida Ahonobadha.

This years Kisumu ASK Shows theme is Empowering people through growth in Agriculture.

The Prime Minister also paid homage to the family of the late elderly and respected church leader Pastor Mathayo Wandiga who was given a fitting sending off burial at his home in Simbi village in Central Karachuonyo in Rachuonyo District where he addressed thousands of mourners.

The late Mzee Wandiga is one of the pioneer preachers in the area with SDA church and was the father of Prof. Shem Wandiga of the university of Nairobis department of Applied sciences the late Dan Okwatch and Simmy Wangiga among others. He was a highly respected church elders who preached the word of gospel in the region for well over 60 years..





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