The government has formed a taskforce to oversee development projects in Kisumu to help reposition the Lakeside City as a hub for the East Africa region.
The taskforce chaired by Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary (CS) James Macharia also has Petroleum Cabinet Secretary (CS) John Munyes, Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya as members.
The team is expected to implement the Kisumu Integrated Development Plan whose components include a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), rehabilitation and modernization of the Kisumu Port, boats manufacturing and the oil jetty.
Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure Raila Odinga on Monday led the three Cabinet Secretaries on an inspection tour of the three sites reassuring the government’s commitment to revive economic activities in the area.
Munya said the government has allocated Sh. 500 million for the construction of the SEZ at Ombeyi in Muhoroni Sub County this financial year.
An additional Sh. 2.5 billion has been budgeted for in the next financial year to complete the project which is expected to create employment for over 24, 000 people, he added.
The CS said construction works is set to begin immediately on the 600 acre piece of land availed by the County Government of Kisumu urging the locals to embrace the project.
The zone, he said, was among two others being constructed in Lamu and Mombasa adding that is shall specialize in textiles and leather.
Munya added that plans have been put in place to facilitate export of the products through existing trade partnerships.
On his part, Munyes said the Sh1.9 billion Kisumu oil jetty which is complete is set to begin operation in August this year.
The facility which has been installed with state of the art equipment is expected to evacuate 4.4 million liters of fuel through Lake Victoria daily.
This, he said, will reduce the pressure on roads since 250 trucks that carry the product from Kisumu to Uganda by road shall be removed.
“We are going to ferry one billion liters of fuel in the first phase when operations kick off in August but we plan to scale up to three billion liters,” the CS said.
He defended the money spent on the project saying it was a worthwhile investment which is going to be very profitable once fully operational.
“Our Ugandan counterparts have toured the facility and are satisfied with the work we have done,” said Munyes.
Macharia said Sh500 million has been allocated for the rehabilitation of Kisumu port. In the next financial year, he said, Sh. 2.5 billion shall be pumped into the project to revive operations at the once vibrant port to connect the east African region.
Macharia assured that the government has not abandoned the construction of Standard Gauge Railway to Kisumu, adding that the various development initiatives being rolled out in the area were key in ensuring that the line is busy once it reaches Kisumu.
“We have not abandoned the project. What we are doing is rehabilitating the meter gauge railway line from Naivasha to Malaba to ferry goods to Uganda,” he said.
The line, he said is expected to rake in profits that will in turn be ploughed into the construction of SGR line to Kisumu.
Speaking for the first time on the SGR after a visit to China, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga termed as propaganda reports indicating that extension of the line to Kisumu had flopped.
“We never failed in China. It is just a matter of sequencing and the SGR is going to come to Kisumu through Malaba to Kampala,” he said.
Odinga said the Kisumu projects, anchored in the Vision 2030 were set to change the face of the city disclosing that Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Felix Tshisekedi (DRC) will launch the mega projects in Kisumu in August.
By Owiti Cynthia and Chris Mahandara