James Orengo: Why I am with Ruto in India

The presence of Siaya Governor James Orengo, a close Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga ally during President William Ruto’s official visit to India, has caused a stir in the political circles.

This came a few months after Mr Odinga accused President Ruto of wooing governors allied to Azimio.

Mr Orengo travelled to India as a representative of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) moments after hosting Wiper Democratic Movement Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Mr Odinga’s wife Ida, at a fundraiser in Gem.

The Siaya Governor and one of the most trusted allies of Mr Odinga took to his official social media accounts posting the outcome of a meeting with a delegation from the Indian Government with whom they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

And from yesterday, the social media was awash with his photographs and statements with President Ruto in India.

However, in his statement, he stressed that he was leading a delegation from LREB and afterwards briefed the President on the outcome of the MoU they had signed.

“I led a delegation from Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) including Governors Stephen Sang of Nandi and Dr Hillary Barchok (Bomet) to appraise President William Ruto on the MOUs LREB has signed with Indian government ministries and departments ahead of a meeting between President Ruto and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India,” said Mr Orengo in his statement.

During the visit, he did not come empty-handed as he stated in the status update.

“The MOUs by LREB are one to establish a Solar Energy Park with a capacity of 280MW with each of the 14 counties getting between 10-50MW while the second one seeks to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba corridor but at its core is interlinking railway network that connects the 14 LREB counties.”

The LREB counties inlcude Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Nandi and Kericho.

In the government’s plan which was reignited by Transport Cabinet secretary Mr Kipchumba Murkomen, Phase 2B of the SGR from Naivasha to the Lakeside city of Kisumu will cost Sh380 billion while the last leg, 2C from Kisumu to Malaba bordering Uganda will take another Sh122 billion.9 billion.

He then ended by saying President Ruto endorsed both project concepts for further discussions during the Head of State’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

And in his official page, Dr Ruto affirmed his support for the same, promising to make a follow up with his Indian counterpart.

“Met Dr Srinivasa Raju Gannavarapu, CEO Procorp Enertech Private Limited who has shown interest in investing in LREB Counties. Present were Orengo, Mr sang and Dr Barchok. Good infrastructure facilitates the expansion of opportunities and economic growth. The Bloc has an ambitious plan to link their counties and bring the benefits of connectedness to the people by building the roads that will create prosperity for this and future generations,” Dr Ruto posted.

Immediately after he sent a statement, many praised the governor as pro-development when he was seen as part of the President’s delegation, while others viewed it as double speak from the Siaya Governor’s side and Mr Odinga who have always condemned leaders from the opposition who associate with the Head of State.

The reactions come amidst a directive by Azimio leader to his county bosses not to associate with the President.

It is not the first time Mr Orengo was seen accompanying the president in some functions.

Apart from the president, Mr Orengo has also hosted other senior government officials in Siaya among them the then Trade CS Moses Kuria who presided over the ground breaking ceremony of County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP). Also present was Mr Odinga’s elder brother and Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga.

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