CORD coalition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday praised the infrastructural development of President Uhuru Kenyatta. He said Kenya risked being overtaken by the neighboring countries.
Raila said that he fully backed the standard gauge railway upgrade launched by Uhuru in Mombasa last month.
Cord politicians in Mombasa, Kwale, Taita and Kilifi initially opposed the railway upgrade arguing that it was very overpriced and should not have been guaranteed by Mombasa port.
“I fully support the standard gauge railway that was launched by President Kenyatta in Mombasa and that is why I am also here today,” Raila said while officially opening the Makadara commuter railway station on Jogoo Road yesterday.
He was conducting the state function as part of the [email protected] celebrations.
Under the same arrangement, former President Kibaki will today preside over the opening of the Western Ring Road, a bypass that links Westlands, Kileleshwa and Hurlingham.
Tomorrow, former President Moi will be the chief guest at the launch of the Imara Daima commuter railway station.
Raila warned that Nairobi county risked being crippled if the government does not move quickly to expand its infrastructure.
He said that Nairobi has become notorious for overcrowded roads, rising population, pollution and a congested airport.
“I gladly attended the launch of a new airport terminal a few days ago because other cities have been catching up by investing in urban infrastructure renewal. We must change urgently,” he said.
Raila urged the government to also invest in the maintenance of the current infrastructure for generations to come.
He said the biggest curse of Africa is failing to maintain what it currently has, citing the Mombasa-Uganda railway that was built more than 100 years ago but is only now being modernized.
He said that “short-term thinkers” at the time thought that the Uganda narrow gauge railway which cost five million pounds was a waste of money.
“It is difficult to support long-term grand infrastructure projects unless you believe in what your nation should be decades and centuries down the line,” he said. The former PM warned that decongesting Nairobi should be a priority.
“In order to attract businesses to our country, we must invest in a transport system that is efficient, reliable, predictable and safe. The lack of efficient public transport has left the Nairobi Central Business District perpetually clogged in traffic,” he said.
He congratulated the appointment of Eng. Michael Kamau as Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary but said that traveling by public transport must become fun, not torture.
“Using public transport must stop being a rendezvous with gun-wielding robbers and fast-paced pickpockets. An efficient public transport that can carry even our cabinet secretaries, governors and senators to and from work must be a priority all over the country. This is one area in which the national and county governments must join hands,” he said.
Raila, a keen football fan, challenged the Kenya Railways Corporation to also open a train station at Kasarani Sports Centre.
“The reason that stadium barely fills during matches is the absence of reliable public transport. A reliable train service to the stadium would breathe new life and boost its revenues while keeping people from all corners of Nairobi happy,” he said.
Infrastructure CS Michael Kamau, Deputy Nairobi Governor Jonathan Mweke, former civil service boss Francis Muthaura and former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa also attended the event.