Nasa leader Raila Odinga on Sunday took President Uhuru Kenyatta on an unplanned tour of the Kisumu Port where a dredger is set to begin clearing the lake of debris.
Uhuru and Raila, in a breach of security protocol, left the Kisumu International Airport in two unmarked cars.
The president was on his way out of the lakeside town after attending the burial of former Youth Fund CEO Bruce Odhiambo.
But before Uhuru boarded his plane, whose engines were already running in preparation for taking off, he was pulled aside by Raila who must have briefed him of the development.
The president left his plane with its engines running and proceeded with the tour without bodyguards. His flight to Nairobi was delayed for about four hours.
One of Raila’s aides said that the Nasa leader had planned that Uhuru tours the port but they were pressed for time.
However, while on their way from Bruce’s burial, Raila said he would speak with the president to consider taking the tour since planning another one would take more time.
He said the two leaders opted for a low-key ride to avoid attracting the attention of Kisumu residents who wouldn’t have let them pass without being addressed.
Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili yesterday told the Star on the phone that the activities at the port followed the meeting Nyanza leaders had with Uhuru during last year’s launch of Universal Health Coverage.
He said the president, while at the port, told leaders that he was keen on reviving the lake region’s economy of which the Kisumu port shall play a key role.
The government, through the Kenya Ports Authority, has embarked on works to revive the facility which has been wasting away for years.
Much as it receives ships ferrying goods to and from Kisumu, the neglected port is shallow and cannot allow larger ships to dock.
Owili said ten vessels will be deployed – six for dredging and four for hyacinth removal, for the work set to be executed in 15 months. He said the president asked that the same is executed in the shortest time possible.
Kisumu is strategically placed as a hub for trade in the East African Community but the hyacinth has locked its potential as the shortest route the region’s key markets.
Owili said they were given until February 25 to come up with a proper plan that would ensure the President’s and Raila’s vision is realised.
“The president also directed us to work on plans of reviving the Nakuru-Kisumu railway,” the deputy governor said adding that multi-sectoral teams are already working on the project.
The team involves the counties bordering Lake Victoria – Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Migori, and Busia; EAC, Lake Region Economic Bloc, Lake Basin Development Authority, LVEMP, KPA, and Kenya Railways.