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President Kenyatta: Why I give key government projects to military

President Uhuru reveals why he has turned to the military for legacy projects

The head of State noted that his government is spending much less on projects overseen by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), compared to when they are managed by civilians or private contractors.

He cited the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), rehabilitation of the railway lines, which had been abandoned for years, and revitalisation of the Kisumu port. noting the projects have borne fruits.

Mr Kenyatta further said the military has the capacity to be the country’s protector and double up as the implementer of crucial development programmes.

“Those complaining about KDF being awarded projects, to the extent of seeking court interventions, should understand that KDF are Kenyans who deserve equal opportunity. Needless to say, the same hand that carries a gun is the same hand that can handle a hoe,” he said.

Court ruling

The President’s sentiments came on the backdrop of a court ruling reversing his decision to transfer the KMC from the Agriculture ministry to the Defence ministry.

Justice Anthony Mrima said the move violated Article 10 of the Constitution, due to lack of public participation, but noted that the error can be rectified.

Speaking in Kisumu where he launched Kenya Shipyards Limited, Mr Kenyatta stated that his move to hand KMC over to the military came after the body was mismanaged twice under the Grand Coalition Government.

During retired President Mwai Kibaki’s era, the head of state stated, Sh1 billion was allocated to the commission but some unscrupulous people misappropriated the funds and only repainted the facility.

Another Sh2 billion was set aside during his time, he said, noting KDF transformed the commission with less than Sh300 million.

“I am wondering why people are against the military running these agencies. Some are even going to court to challenge the decision. You will continue complaining but we will continue doing our job,” said Mr Kenyatta.

According to the President, KDF’s discipline, transparency and accountability are unmatched, compared to the civilian managers running government agencies or parastatals.

“If only these civilian managers or administrators could deliver a quarter of what the military does, we would be very far as a country. Those hands that carry guns can carry jembes better,” said Mr Kenyatta.

Apart from KMC, the President has placed an army general in charge of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and contracted KDF to rehabilitate the old 216km Nakuru-Kisumu railway line.

The head of State was accompanied by his Burundi counterpart, Evariste Ndayishimiye, former Pime Minister Raila Odinga, more than seven Cabinet secretaries and politicians from the region. In his speech, he stressed the need to maintain peace in the country, warning leaders against beating the drums of war.

“Peace allows many things to move and development to reign. This is why I will continue thanking my brother Raila for the handshake that brought peace. Never underestimate the peace we have as Kenyans and don’t allow people to disturb that peace and shed blood, ” he said.

Important projects

On his second day of the Nyanza tour on Monday, President Kenyatta laid the groundwork for construction of a new ship to move more products across Lake Victoria to other East African countries.

Mr Kenyatta performed a keel laying ceremony, setting the stage for construction of the vessel christened MV Uhuru II. This will complement the decades-old MV Uhuru I.

“It is projected that the construction of MV Uhuru II will boost the transportation of goods and passengers within the Lake Victoria Basin and spur development in the Nyanza and Western regions. It will create employment opportunities for the youths as well as open up trade in adjoining areas,” said Mr Kenyatta. The President said that the construction of the new ship will also create 1,000 more jobs for locals.

Presidents Kenyatta and Ndayishimiye also commissioned the refurbished MV Uhuru Cargo Ship and the new Sh476 million Kenya Railways Marine School, which are key components of the revamped Kisumu port. President Kenyatta flagged off MV Uhuru on its 51st voyage.

MV Uhuru I, which was refitted by a team from the KDF, successfully made its first voyage to Uganda in December 2019 to deliver oil. The soldiers refitted the main engines, navigation equipment, propellers, the hull, deck, generators and the firefighting equipment. The refitting at the shipyard commenced in 2019 and took nine months.

At over 300 ft (93metres), it is the longest vessel on any of the East African lakes, and has 30 staff – 23 crew members and seven artisans.

It currently transports petroleum products and can also deliver cargo. The vessel can make up to 10 round trips a month between the Kisumu port and Port Bell, depending on demand. To date, the ship has made 50 voyages across the lake, carrying a total of 44.5 million litres of petroleum products. The ship made its first trip on December 20, 2019 after rehabilitation, ferrying 22 loaded wagons to Port Bell in Uganda.

Kenya Railways Marine School

President Kenyatta and his Burundi counterpart Evariste Ndayishimiye commission the new Kenya Railways Marine School on May 31, 2021. The Kenyan leader said he will go back to Kisumu in August to launch the 216km railway line, which completes the 360-degree Kisumu port rehabilitation plan.

The official commissioning of the port as a whole will take place once the remaining works, including dredging, are completed. The delay to complete the railway line and Uganda’s dillydallying on completing its part of the plan, including the oil jetty have contributed to the postponement of the port’s launch. Dredging began on February 10, after it was launched by ODM leader Raila Odinga. The project will take six months and is scheduled to end on August 10 2021.

So far, at least 128,000 tons of sludge have been successfully dredged, attaining a depth of 4.5 metres. Two thousand tons of sludge are removed from each of the four dredge trips made daily and the cumulative average depth before dredging was 3.0 metres. The dredging is being done at the Kisumu port and the Mbita feeder port by Mango Tress Marine Limited.

Upon completion, the port will have a port turning basin measuring 700m by 400m, a KPC access channel measuring 100m wide by 800m long, a KPC turning basin of 300m by 200m for the shallow waters, and a deep water access channel measuring 100m wide and 4000m long.

Shipyard’s importance

The multi-billion shilling shipyard at the Kisumu port is considered a huge milestone and is where new ships will be built and others refurbished. It is owned by the government.

The President said having it in Kisumu will create jobs and opportunities for other businesses such as those dealing in steel.

It was borne out of the need for a maritime facility for repairing, maintaining, refitting and constructing ships, and providing other maritime services. Phase one of the Kisumu shipyard has been completed with the construction of an office block and the section building area.

Phase two will encompass the renovation of the dry dock and reconstruction of the rail wagon slipway. The Mombasa shipyard is under construction and will be completed soon. It will be used for constructing new vessels as well as carrying out maintenance.

The yard will be run by the Kenya Navy in partnership with Damen Civil Works Company, a firm well known for ship building. – nation.co.ke