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Kisumu residents welcome President ‘Ouru’

President Kenyatta was on Tuesday accorded a rousing reception in Kisumu as he toured the town for the first time as Head of State.

Thousands of people gathered at Nyalenda slums to receive the President during the launch of a National Youth Service project in the area.

The project will be a replication of what the NYS, supported by the Devolution ministry, has been doing in Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare slums.

Speaking at Oboch market in the slum, Mr Kenyatta said he would not choose who to work with in his agenda for national development.

The President, who was in the town to open the second devolution conference, said he honoured governors’ invitation to the Kisumu because the Constitution requires the National and county governments to work together.


This is the first tour he is making as President to the region, which hugely supports Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

His first visit was during the burial of former Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Okuta Osiany in Ahero, shortly after he was sworn in office.

However, he had passed through the town when travelling to Vihiga and Kericho counties on separate occasions through the Kisumu International Airport.

In the two instances, Mr Kenyatta did not speak to the residents as he only changed aeroplanes to attend a funds drive and the commemoration of UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi’s father’s death.

Mr Kenyatta, speaking at the heart of Mr Odinga’s home turf, said it was time to work and his association with local leaders from Cord was apolitical.

“We said that as we are here, we must come to see you; because we believe Kenya is one,” he said.

The President said the government’s desire was that development reaches all Kenyans. He said if the National and county governments work in unity, leaders would not quarrel.

“It is the right of Kenyans to elect us and therefore it is our work to serve them in the same breath that they have elevated us. Kenyans did not elect us to exchange words but to work.

“We cannot do that if we don’t come to you at your doorsteps. The only way to end poverty and bring development is not to take you away from here but to bring the things we want to do closer to you.”


He said he did not launch the slum improvement project in Kisumu for political reasons but because every Kenyan has a right to benefit from the government.

“That is the reason we brought the NYS here as an indication of our unity with national and county government.

“We hope that the county of Kisumu will add some resources for growth and expansion of these projects.”

The NYS will work with about 4,000 youth from the city to clean sewerage systems, tarmac access roads and construct 23 health centres, 23 police posts and 23 public toilets.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru, Governor Jack Ranguma, Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura and several county assembly members from the county were present.

Mr Kenyatta said the partnership that devolution requires was through such initiatives between national government leaders and governors.

Mr Obura asked the residents to cooperate with the NYS personnel and to consider the “big picture” of the transformation that would come with the projects.

“The saccos that we will form here are the only way to go, for ending the poverty that we have been slaves of for a long time,” said Mr Obura.

He said the projects would be implemented in Manyatta, Obunga and other informal settlements in the town.


Governor Ranguma said a cleaner slum would translate into a cleaner Lake Victoria. He said the project would augment the efforts of the French, which had envisioned having cleaner slums dwellings in Kisumu.

“We have our partners who are keen on making the slums habitable. This initiative will be a great blessing to us as residents and since you have a bigger pocket, we extend our gratitude to this gesture,” Mr Ranguma told the President.

Mr Kenyatta highlighted the changes realised in Kibera, where he announced that more Sh100 million had been spent as revolving funds for groups.

“Some have started urban farming, welding, car wash, cleaning toilets, flour mills. For this to be possible, we must also embrace the same initiative here for us to prosper,” the President said.

Mr Kenyatta asked the locals who would earn from the programme to spend their income wisely.

“Do not use the money to add another wife; not for alcohol and not for chang’aa.

“Use the money to develop and improve the lives of your children who will get to attend good schools and get adequate healthcare as well as access more food.”