Sweet and sour farewell to the reins of power

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022 02:23 | By
President Uhuru expected to campaign for Raila again as he heads to Samburu county
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a development tour of Nairobi's Eastlands on July 12, 2022. PHOTO/State House Kenya/Twitter.

President Uhuru Kenyatta will this morning perform his last duties as Head of State in a ceremony of handing over the instruments of power to his deputy and friend-turned-political-foe, William Ruto.

Uhuru and Ruto last evening met at State House ahead of today’s inauguration ceremony.

After being at the helm for the past nine years and five months, President Kenyatta will bid State House bye, ushering in a new Kenya Kwanza administration following the August 9 polls and subsequent Supreme Court verdict.

President Kenyatta has spent his last days in office commissioning various multi-billion projects. They include the newly refurbished Uhuru Park and the National Police Service Hospital, Mbagathi, which is set to provide quality, timely and specialised inpatient and outpatient services to officers and their dependents.

Yesterday evening, President Kenyatta presided over the commissioning of the revamped Uhuru and Central parks.

The renovations began in September 2021 under the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) stewardship.

The opening of the recreational centres will be done in phases to allow NMS, which is led by Major-General Mohammed Badi, to complete their construction.

President Kenyatta also recently commissioned the Nairobi Expressway, built at a cost of Sh89 billion, the Kenol-Marua Road at a cost of 14 billion, and the Eastern Bypass (Sh4.4billion), respectively.

On Friday, President Kenyatta pointed out that the significant progress the country was able to achieve in the past decade was because of the support he received from Kenyans, even as he bid farewell to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

“I most sincerely thank all Kenyans for their extraordinary support to me, which made and continues to make significant contributions towards the prosperity of our nation. I thank everyone who has walked the talk with me and especially you, the KDF,” he said.

The President, accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, spoke on Friday at Lang’ata Barracks in Nairobi during a farewell ceremony hosted in his honour as the outgoing Commander-in-Chief, in line with military traditions and customs.

He urged the KDF to remain steadfast and support the incoming administration, just like they supported his.

“As we depend on God to protect our beloved country, we all look upon you to implement this prayer by defending our territorial integrity and sovereignty by always being mission-ready,” he said.

That same Friday, Uhuru joined other world leaders in mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday at her Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

But even as President Kenyatta leaves office, the Energy, Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) is tomorrow expected to review the latest pump prices at Sh159.10 per litre of petrol in Nairobi. Without government subsidy, the commodity could retail at Sh214 per litre.

In addition, a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour currently goes at Sh250 at various retail outlets, a move that is already compounding the lives of millions of Kenyans.

These are some of the challenges the new administration headed by incoming President Ruto will have to contend with, alongside many uncompleted multi-billion projects.

Besides infrastructure and hospitals, there are numerous uncompleted projects such as dams, sanitation and irrigation, stadia, markets, and new classrooms for junior secondary schools.

And apart from the high cost of living and the uncompleted infrastructural projects, the new administration will have to service the public debt, which is currently more than Sh8.4 trillion.

Data from the National Treasury shows that the public debt stock in Kenya grew to Sh8.4 trillion as of March, from Sh8.2 trillion in December.

Data obtained from the President’s Delivery Unit (PDU), which was created to track the progress of government programmes, shows that although most of the projects initiated by the Jubilee administration have been completed, others are still between 85 per cent and 98 per cent done.

It is not clear whether all will be completed by September this year.

In his last days in office, President Kenyatta commissioned some hospitals put up by NMS, which is under his office and also launched the issuance of one million title deeds.

Other projects include the ongoing Sh30 billion and 540km Mau Mau Road, which connects Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri and Nyandarua counties; the 45km Nairutia–Naro Moru Road; the 54km Nyaru-Iten Road in Elgeyo Marakwet and the 70km Ngong-Suswa Road in Kajiado.

In the water sector, the projects he failed to commission include the Karemenu Dam in Gatundu North, whose cost is estimated to be Sh24 billion, and which is expected to supply water to Ruiru, Juja and Nairobi.

Also, the outgoing President has left incomplete the Sh80 billion Thwake Multi-Purpose Water Development Programme, which comprises a dam for water supply, hydropower generation and irrigation; and the  Sh673 million Kendu Bay Water Project, which commenced in 2020 and is set to provide water to at least 65,000 residents.

Sports facilities, the Sh600 million Kirigiti Stadium in Kiambu with a sitting capacity of 15,000, Ruring’u Stadium, whose construction is ongoing in Nyeri, Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu, Kipchoge Keino Stadium and Wote stadiums are also incomplete.

As he leaves office today, President Kenyatta will take home at least Sh39.6 million tax-free in lump-sum payment, as well as pocket Sh1.32 million in monthly pension. Other benefits include entertainment allowance, house allowance, office space, vehicles, fuel allowance and full medical cover, all provided by the State free of tax.

The retired president and his spouse are also entitled to diplomatic passports and local and international travel allowance of up to four trips a year.

 not exceeding two weeks each, and access to the VIP lounge at all airports in Kenya.

But Uhuru will be required to resign from any position in any political party before he can access these benefits. Section 6 (1) of the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act of 2003, provides that a retired President shall not hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office as President.

President Kenyatta is the current Jubilee Party leader and chairperson of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition council.

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