Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has rubbished claims that the government is concentrating on Nyanza region for development projects.
The party in a statement defended its leader Raila Odinga against claims that he had turned his back on Western despite the region having voted for him overwhelmingly over the years.
ODM’s Director of Communications Philip Etale termed the remarks by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah and Lugari MP Ayub Savula as wild and false.
“These are wild allegations in the sense that there is not one iota of truth in what the duo said,” he said.
The two leaders had questioned why the government was launching many projects in the Nyanza region and not a single one in the Western region.
The President who was on a three-day working tour of Nyanza commissioned key projects in Kisumu before presiding over Madaraka day celebrations held in the lakeside city and graced by Burundian President.
Etale said the projects in question have been undertaken by the national government and will benefit western counties.
The former Prime Minister has also downplayed the ‘handshake projects tag’ maintaining the projects are meant to make Kisumu city a regional economic hub and expand trade across the East Africa region.
Etale singled out the rehabilitated gauge railway and Kisumu port. “All these are government and not Raila Odinga projects. We urge Kenyans, particularly the people of the Western region to treat such remarks as groundless only aimed at seeking cheap political mileage. It behoves all leaders to always carry out basic research on issues before making such public pronouncements” he said.
He added “the Kisumu Port is not a local project, it is both regional and national. It suffices to note that just like the Kilindini Port in Mombasa, employees at this Port are drawn from different parts of the country, the Western Kenya region included. Kisumu has been and continues to be a Regional Hub since the colonial days. It is so because of its proximity to Lake Victoria. If Kakamega town and not Kisumu were near Lake Victoria, it would have been made the regional hub”.
The party is wondering why the launch of several flagship projects in Western region last year ahead of the Mashujaa day fete held in Kakamega did not attract similar attention.
“October 2019, Mashujaa Day celebrations were held in Kakamega County at Bukhungu stadium, and the Western region did not attract attention. It is worth noting that, prior to the celebrations in Kakamega, the President held a consultative meeting with all elected and political party leaders from the region where a number of issues were discussed. Additionally, water projects and roads were launched during that time, nobody complained”.
But in a swift rejoinder, the County government said it solely funded the refurbishment of Bukhungu Stadium and Kakamega County Referral Hospital and not the national government as claimed by Etale.
Some of the key projects unveiled include the Sh3.8 billion rehabilitated Nakuru-Kisumu Metre Gauge Railway, Sh3 billion refurbished Kisumu port, Sh350 million ultra-modern Uhuru business park, Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium at the Mamboleo ASK ground, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex, Inland Container Depot at Kibos and 400kv power project by Ketraco.
The President also commissioned a marine school in Kisumu which is part of the Railway Training Institute.