Friends and fellow leaders.
The Coast region has a running feeling of marginalization that has deep roots in our history.
The people here also believe they bear unfair burden of human rights abuses, extra judicial killings and land injustices.
The land injustices in Taita-Taveta and most parts of the Coast date from the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence periods. Taita-Taveta residents also feel abandoned to endless human-wildlife conflict that result in lost lives, killing of wildlife and destruction of farms. Residents of the county are among the many Kenyans owed up to Ksh14 billion in compensation money.
The region has not reaped the full benefits of the numerous precious minerals that dot the counties.
The pastoralists in Tana River remain exposed to a cycle of droughts, floods, fights over pasture and insecurity.
Over the years, the Coast has seen crops like Coconut, cashew nuts and sugar cane lose their economic value, pushing residents deep into poverty.
Our people here feel that some of our economic policies have worked against them, and remedies need to be found, sooner, not later.
We need to bring these worries to a complete closure.
Our task as a movement is not to dredge or exploit the dark past of this region.
Ours is to figure out how to build a fair, just and lasting prosperity here.
We are therefore here today to put the concerns on the table as we start the new journey of unity; Azimio la Umoja.
We are here to figure out how to finish the job we started years back to make the people of the Coast get what they deserve and be prosperous and secure.
Every time we have joined hands and looked into the future, this region has made progress and moved forward.
Although much remains to be done, I can say with certainty that the Coast is a better place today than it was just about ten years ago.
In 2010, you voted overwhelmingly for the new Constitution. You were particularly attracted to the idea of county governments, which was a huge step in enabling you determine your priorities as a people.
Like most other Kenyans, you were tired of waiting for help from Nairobi.
You supported the 2010 constitution despite spirited efforts by opponents to exploit the thorny issues of religion, land and ethnicity here to make you reject a document that had so much for you.
You chose hope over fear. You chose the future over the past. We respect you for that choice. After the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself in 2018, you embraced the Building Bridges Initiative because it has some significant gains for this region.
We must now finish the job of ensuring Coastal counties get more money to be able to provide critical services to the people. The dream of increasing county allocations to 35 per cent MUST be realized.
Mombasa County was to have its allocation rise by Ksh4 billion; from the current Ksh7 billion to Ksh10.9 billion.
Kwale’s share was to rise by Ksh4 billion; from the current Ksh7.78 billion to Ksh11.8 billion.
Kilifi’s allocation was to rise by Ksh7 billion; from current Ksh10.4 billion to Ksh17.3 billion.
Tan River was set to get additional Ksh724 million; from the current Ksh5.85 billion to Ksh6.57 billion.
Lamu was to rise from the current Ksh2.59 billion to Ksh2.99 billion, an addition of Ksh400 million.
Taita Taveta’s allocation was to rise by about Ksh3 billion; from the current Ksh4.2 billion to Ksh7.09 billion.
In sum total, the six counties here stand to lose Ksh22.6 billion if the BBI fails.
You need these billions to provide hospitals, schools, roads, modern markets, clean water and electricity.
Strangely, the people who opposed these increases still think this region should trust them with its future. Very strange indeed.
The Coast’s massive potential has long been held back by poor infrastructure. Turning around infrastructure here is a task we can never fail in. We commit to ensure that the Mombasa gate infrastructure projects, the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone, the Lamu Port, the Lunga Lunga-Mombasa-Malindi-Lamu-Garissa roads, and Shimoni Fishing Port, among others, are realized.
We commit to continually improve capacity and efficiency of the Port of Mombasa.
We appeal to our people here to refuse to be held back by a disease called the Good-Old Days.
Let us not fear new ideas and knocking on new doors. Our neighbours on the Indian Ocean Belt are moving. We cannot afford to stand still. The Coast will be overtaken as a regional hub unless we ambitiously and aggressively upgrade the infrastructure and logistics facilities here.
We need to think beyond what we have had over the years and focus on what we must have going forward.
With stronger logistics services, the Coast will be an investment hub, providing thousands of new jobs to residents just like other water front economies like New York, Hamburg and Shanghai do to their countries.
Goods arriving at our ports must get cleared immediately and leave for the hinterland, immediately.
That way, we attract more traders to use our ports and our logistics services and attract new modern jobs.
With a committed, united and visionary leadership, we will create sustainable investments, sustainable economy and sustainable cities along the Kenya Indian Ocean.
In this gathering, I see men, women and young people with the energy, vision and commitment to make this happen. Inawezekana.
We need to finish the job of creating jobs for youth of this region. One area that could absorb our youth in droves is reformed tourism. Our approach to tourism must reflect the changing patterns across the world, with focus on quality experiences.
Tourism must aggressively include local customs, local people and local cultural experiences. We must put more money into activities that attract more tourists and retain them longer.
These include cultural celebrations and festivals, heritage attractions and technology-enabled 3-D and 4-D shows.
In the era of covid-19, we must drastically change how we promote and market tourism and invest more on online information sources, virtual reality and digitization. These are opportunities for our youth, if well exploited.
We must finish the job of creating business incubation centres and industrial parks for small scale innovators in rural areas here.
The dream of extending at least seven years’ tax holiday for youth owned businesses must be realized because the youth here need it to save them from temptations to resort to crime and violent extremism.
Forced disappearance and extra-judicial executions are manifestations of the culture of impunity that haunts the country. We must build mechanisms to detect, deter and combat that impunity. We must fight uneven, illegal and unfair application of state power.
We must keep our eyes on criminal networks that take advantage of the poverty and security lapses to inflict pain on our people, especially the youth. When injustice happens, we must provide effective and efficient justice to victims.
We must finish the job of empowering the women of this region. Let us move women along the Indian Ocean from being small scale fish mongers and make them traders in value added fish and sea products.
Women here need our support against Gender-Based Violence.
We must help the women here to get education and support them rise in leadership.
We must scale up investment in grassroots large and small scale agricultural and industrial sectors especially those targeting traditional crops like coconut.
I recently cited communities in Kwale who, with just a little support to their traditional knowledge and skills, could create a chain of locally owned factories producing Coconut Oil and TUI (coconut milk) bearing the label MADE IN KENYA or PRODUCE OF KWALE.
We can make it happen.
We must finish the job of exploiting the Indian Ocean’s potential for blue economy.
This will create new jobs and opportunities in marine protection, smart shipping, ports, transportation, tourism, marine mineral resources, sustainable fisheries and maritime security.
Let us ensure fishermen here have access to modern fishing methods, equipment and security at sea.
We need a closure to the long running land injustices here. All we need to do is implement the previous reports by task forces and land related commissions.
Bringing these chapters to a closure requires unity of the nation.
This is not the time to pit the rich against the poor, the young against the old, region against region, religion against religion.
Getting this country back on track demands that we assemble a team of able, gifted, and knowledgeable men, women and youths to form one administrative family to address the country’s problems and take it forward.
The country needs leaders with integrity, credentials and humility to give direction, purpose and inspiration to our people.
I see such leaders in this gathering.
Let us walk together. Let us succeed together.
Thank you. God bless Kenya.