In Summary
  • Revitalisation of the Kisumu port is among key economic projects that have been spearheaded by Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta following their handshake.
  • Mr Wanjala said when the SGR is extended to Butere and Malaba in Kakamega and Busia counties, it will open up the region’s economic potential.

The projects being initiated by the government in parts of Nyanza have split Western and Coast politicians.

Some MPs are accusing ODM leader Raila Odinga of using his handshake deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta to sideline the two regions. The MPs include allies of DP William Ruto and others from ODM.

Mr Odinga’s lieutenants in the two regions have however come to his defence, saying the entire country is gaining from the handshake.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, his Matungu counterpart Justus Murunga, and former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale last week accused Mr Odinga of using his influence to concentrate projects in his Nyanza backyard while ignoring the rest of western Kenya.

“Raila no longer values western where he claims to be the 13th grandson of Wanga King Nabongo Mumia,” Dr Khalwale said.

The three cited the planned revival of Kisumu port which will be commissioned by Mr Kenyatta this week. Other projects include the oil jetty and the standard gauge railway.

Also on course is the revival of Kicomi factory and the launch of a socio-economic zone in Kisumu.

TENSION

MPs allied to Mr Ruto demanded that Mr Odinga uses his camaraderie with the President to revive Mumias Sugar Company.

Other projects the lawmakers want the government to fix include the expansion and upgrade of Kakamega Airstrip and the tarmacking of roads.

During an event in Matungu, Dr Khalwale said other regions are not getting anything from the handshake.

At the Coast, Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari (ODM) said the handshake has not helped the region. He added that Coast leaders should unite and push for the region’s agenda.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa also criticised the handshake, saying it has only divided the region. “I was among those who supported the handshake, but I discovered that it was not for unity. When I decided to back the DP, I was expelled from the party,” she said.

Kaloleni MP Paul Katana supported Ms Jumwa’s sentiments, saying the handshake had caused more political tension at the Coast and divided the political leadership.

“However, we have realised that as leaders, our unity of purpose must continue to be upheld even though we might have different political ambitions and affiliations,” he said.

STATE PROJECTS

He called on the leaders to forge ahead with unity and not to be distracted by party and political positions.

“Recently when the Transport minister made a pronouncement over the SGR cargo directive, we immediately came together and opposed it. The government withdrew its directive and that is what we need to see happening from the Coast leadership,” said Mr Katana.

The criticism however drew sharp reactions from Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.

In an interview at his Mululu home in Vihiga County, Mr Mudavadi told Sunday Nation that there are no 'handshake projects' and what was going on was government work.

He said the rehabilitation of Kisumu port and the ongoing construction of the highway from Kisumu are being funded by public funds and a grant from World Bank and, therefore, should not be linked to the handshake.

Mr Mudavadi watered down the claims that western Kenya had been sidelined, saying the projects being referred to were initiated way before Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga started working together.

"Let me talk about what is erroneously being called ‘handshake projects’. I think sometimes we use terms in very strange ways,” he said.

"If you are talking about rehabilitation of the port of Kisumu, this is public expenditure programmed within the Ministry of Infrastructure and done through the Kenya Ports Authority," he added.

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