President William Ruto today officially opened the Turkana Tourism and Cultural Festival, commending the event’s role in promoting regional cohesion.
Speaking at Ekaales Centre, the President termed the cultural festival as a “celebration of community, identity, and humanity.” He said it was an important platform for regional peace.
“It is a festival with regional dimension and benefit, specifically the celebration of our diversity and enhancement of peace in our region,” he said. “This festival is unique in this regard: it strengthens the bonds between various communities and builds a sense of oneness that weakens the impulses of conflict and division.”
President Ruto, who was received by Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai and other Turkana leaders, announced that the National Government will support next year’s festival with Sh25 million.
He also took the opportunity to address key issues affecting Turkana which had been raised by leaders, and highlighted development programmes targeting the region.
He promised that Suguta, Aroo, and Lokiriama sub-counties will be operationalised within 90 days, pledged a Sh800 million project to connect Lodwar and Kalokol to the national power grid60, and completion of stalled road projects.
The President also announced Sh70 million for equipment to support Community Health Promoters who will help in diagnosing diseases at the community level. The move will support primary healthcare and shift focus from treatment to prevention.
He added that the National Government will set aside Sh60 million for Turkana as a stipend for the CHPs with the County Government expected to set aside the same amount.
President Ruto reiterated his stand to crush banditry in the North Rift and said that in three weeks, training for National Police Reservists will be concluded to support government security efforts.
On Turkana pastoralists imprisoned in Uganda, the President revealed that talks were being held between Kenya and Uganda governments to address the conflict to return the people home.
He agreed with the leaders’ call for investment in water infrastructure and promised to revive the Lowaat Dam project and three other social dams to boost water sufficiency in the county.
The Head of State announced that the government had recruited 820 teachers as part of efforts to boost education.
Other projects he announced include a Charter for Turkana University College to be issued next year, 1000 units of affordable housing programme, the establishment of Digital Hubs in all Wards, Kenya Meat Commission to operationalise Lomidat Abattoir and a blue economy programme for Lake Turkana.
Governor Lomorukai declared his commitment to work with the President and readiness to rally Turkana leaders and the region to back the President.
He commended ongoing operations to boost security along the border with West Pokot but raised alarm over security incidents in Turkwel Secondary School and Lorokon following attacks by bandits.
The Governor urged for immediate construction of water pans, in addition to the planned four mega dams to harvest waters during the forecasted Elnino rains. He was accompanied by County First Lady Lillian Ekamais.
Other Governors present include Marsabit Governor who is also the Chairperson of FCDC Mohamud Ali and Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii.
Turkana leaders who spoke included County Assembly Speaker Christopher Nakuleu, MPs Protus Akuja (Loima), Nicholas Ng’ikor (Turkana East), Emathe Namuar (Turkana Central), Cecilia Ngitit (Woman Rep), and Epuyo Nanok (Turkana West).
Also present were delegations from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, led by Eastern Equatoria Governor Louis Lobong Lojore, Chief Administrator for the South Omo Zone Milike Malika and Ambrose Onoria the Resident District Commissioner for Kotido.
Deputy Governor Dr John Erus, County Secretary Peter Eripete and County Executive for Tourism Iris Mariao, were among senior county officials present.