The national government is committed to complete the construction of the Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi County in a year’s time.
This comes at time when the region is facing challenges of poor tourism fortunes occasioned by past insecurity incidences and travel advisories from key markets in Europe.
Announcing the new development, Tourism and Wildlife cabinet secretary Najib Balala who visited Kilifi governor Amason Kingi in his office said that the national government will increase funding towards the project to enable a speedy construction.
“We are committed on Ronald Ngala Utalii College and 40 per cent of construction work has already been done but we had challenges of finance when we started,” he said.
He added that the government had initially allocated Sh. 1.9 billion during the grand coalition government and then the budget jumped to Sh. 10 billion during the Jubilee administration before dropping again to Sh. 4.9 billion last year.
The variations in budgetary allocation he added were a contributory factor in the delay in its construction but assured residents that it will be complete by next year.
Balala was responding to Governor Kingi’s questions on what the national government was doing for the project.
Kingi said that the delay in its completion had dampened the spirit of residents who were upbeat that local students will benefit from the institution and in turn boost tourism services in the Coastal region.
“The project started long ago but we don’t really know where we are at the moment because construction work stopped abruptly hence raising questions on its viability,” said Kingi.
He added that the current situation was very confusing and residents were at task understanding when the project will be complete or if the government had abandoned it all together.
“We don’t know when Utalii College in Vipingo will open doors to students,” he added.
Balala said that the reason why tourism numbers had not grown in the past few years was because tourists were bored by the products being offered to them.
“Our products are tired and old and then when people come to the beach there is nothing much they can see or feel that is why the issue of the water front will complement the product that is already the beach,” he said.
Balala did not shy away from politics saying that the 2022 politics should not be included in the current development agenda and warned those who were politicking.
“We can play politics and keep it aside but we want to do economic development for our people and because now governor Kingi is retiring as governor for Kilifi County it doesn’t mean that he is retiring from politics,” he added.
He said that Kingi was still young to retire from politics and together with Mombasa governor Hassan Joho and Kwale governor Salim Mvurya and the rest of the governors they will decide the route the region take when the 2022 political period comes.
“I think this is the time we can formulate not only the national agenda but also the political agenda of this region and we are not apologetic about it,” he said.
He added that it was not simple for him to sit down with Kingi and Joho but it was because of the handshake between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta saying that elections will come and go but economic development of residents was key for growth.
Kingi warned those engaged in 2022 politics to rethink about their stand and instead promote economic development for the region.
“We shall not allow divisive politics of 2022 to disrupt our development agenda for the people and when time comes for politicking we shall also be there,” he said.