ODM Mombasa gubernatorial aspirant Abdulswamad Nassir and two other candidates failed to turn up for the much hyped debate for the aspirants eyeing the position.
Mombasa deputy Governor William Kingi of Pamoja African Alliance(PAA), United Democratic Alliance(UDA)’s Hassan Omar and Said Omar of Usawa Kwa Wote turned up for the colourful event at the Kenya School of Government(KSG), Mombasa.
The trio showcased their manifestos whilst answering questions paused to them by the moderators of the debate organized by the Media Council of Kenya, Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Coast based media organizations comprising 16 radio and two television stations.
The topics included SGR- Kenya Ports Authority cargo haulage, Blue Economy, Trade and investment, Tourism, Health, Education, Insecurity and Illicit drugs, Solid Waste Management and Peaceful Elections.
Whereas Hassan said the port services will be returned within 100 days of Deputy President William Ruto’s presidency should he win the August 9 elections with Kingi saying, he will engage the national government to return clearing of cargo at the port.
Said cautioned that those who transferred the service will face him in court for damaging Mombasa’s economy.
The three candidates unanimously told the gathering that they will also push the national government to re-negotiate the SGR agreement with the Chinese government to remove KPA, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Railways in the deal.
“It is not a rocket science that the deal can be renegotiated so that the Mombasa port cease to be part of the loan agreement,” said Omar with Dr Kingi adding that the national government can use taxes to pay the Chinese loans.
The three candidates also told Mombasa residents that they will push for sharing of Port revenue with Mombasa County to finance infrastructure and other essential services.
On Blue Economy, they pledged to train and equip local fishers to exploit the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and work with the national government to eradicate exploitation of the country’s territorial waters by foreign vessels.
“We must improve the landing sites, provide modern fishing gears to our fishermen, provide refrigeration and cooling facilities and harness value addition of fish products for our county and the country to fully benefit from the blue economy sector,” added Dr Kingi.
On Tourism, the Mombasa gubernatorial candidates observed that there is need to diversify the products with Hassan saying his administration will introduce food and recreational tourism to attract local and foreign holidaymakers and Kingi adding his administration will set up international convention Center to turn Mombasa to incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, or Meetings and Events tourism destination globally.
“We shall also lobby for open skies to allow international airlines land directly at Moi International Airport and set up Brand Mombasa to market Mombasa directly at the international level,” said Omar.
Said added: “My administration will lower and scrap some of taxes and levies imposed on hoteliers like punitive bed night levy.”
The candidates pledged to provide quality and affordable health services by improving health workers’ welfare and procurement of essential drugs and other facilities.
Omar blamed Governor Joho for frustrating health workers by failing to pay their salaries on time and diverting funds to less priority issues like infrastructure at the expense of essential services.
Said blamed corruption which he said is the root cause of unpaid health workers salaries which he pledged to make it a thing of the past under his administration.
Kingi said although the health infrastructure has improved, his administration will invest more resources in preventive health service and public health to bolster health of Mombasa residents and minimize possibilities of outbreaks of diseases.
On provision of clean water to Mombasa residents, the candidates agreed that distillation of the sea water is the best option to address the issue with Dr Kingi saying his administration will wipe out the cartel stealing three quarters of water daily supplied in the Coastal counties.
Omar claimed that many investors interested in setting up desalination plants were frustrated by corrupt county administration.
“A Japanese firm conducted feasibility studies but were frustrated after some people demanded shares in the company, something that is shame in their culture and that can lead to suicide unlike our society,” he added.
On insecurity, the candidates pledged to work with national security organs to deal with organized criminal gangs with Hassan and Kingi pledging to set up Sh1-3 billion fund to help youth, women and PWDs as well as set up Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The three candidates were in agreement that lack of conducive business environment has forced many traders to relocate in the neighbouring counties and elsewhere in the country.
Dr Kingi told the gathering that many traders told him they had relocated from Mombasa due to harassment and punitive levies.
“They said they had been forced to migrate to neighbouring counties despite the strategic location of Mombasa because of harassment and extortion, something my administration will not allow,” he added.
Omar told the gathering that his administration will work with the United States Drugs Enforcement Agency through the national government to end illicit drug trade.
“Those selling drugs are also players in local and national politics. The UN office on drug and crime and American agencies have severally pointed them out. We will ensure they are dealt with ruthlessly,” he added.
On Solid sewage management, the three candidates agreed that it will be a daunting task for the administration to single-handedly manage the perennial challenges.
They agreed that they will involve stakeholders, investors and neighbouring counties and the national government to find viable solutions.
The candidates also pledged to revive sports facilities to improve the sector and further pledged to rally their supporters to embrace peace throughout the electioneering period.