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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Will Uhuru salvage Panpaper and stop Webuye decline?

President Uhuru Kenyatta is slated to visit Bungoma this month in what political leaders have divulged as a move to woo the Luhya vote. To start with, Uhuru appointed Eugene Wamalwa as a cabinet secretary, sending signals of a powerful politician on the periphery.
On deliverables, Uhuru is expected to give a Charter to Kibabii University, a constituent college of Masinde Muliro in Bungoma initiated by former president Mwai Kibaki at the request of Bungoma MPs led by Bifwoli Wakoli as chairman of education at that time.
Thereafter, Uhuru is expected to open the Chwele-Lwakhakha road that connects to Uganda border and visit Nzoia Sugar Company where his intentions were evident after the appointment of former Webuye MP Joash Wamang’oli as chairman and John Chikati a UDF long term politician through Amani Coalition congress and Musalia Mudavadi’s lieutenant as board members.
However, in the allure of a quick buck, MPs allied to Jubilee and those of Cord converged in Vihiga at the recent Jubilee’s coalition executive move that saw several appointees from Western ascend to key positions with hope of ascending to power.
Some of Uhuru’s goodies to Bungoma people on his visit are occasioned by his appointees which Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka the orchestra in the collapsed Pan Paper Mills.
 The last straw for Pan African Paper Mills which closed in February 2009 was the cutting off of its power supply after the paper mills firm accumulated a huge pile of unpaid electricity bills. And with its untimely closure, the hopes of the more than 30,000 people who depended on the paper mill were crushed. The young men who used to ferry people to and from work on their boda bodas no longer find work as many of the former employees left the town.
Many casual employees are now engaged in illegal activities. According to the police, crime has increased significantly in the town with thugs having killed at least several people in the past four years.
Following the closure of the mill, local education at the Panpaper High School was also dealt a blow but all was not lost for Webuye after Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology opened a campus in the town. Five years now, life for residents of Webuye town has turned into a nightmare following the closure of the mill. The locked shops and clusters of idle youth underscore the decline of a once vibrant trading centre on its way to becoming a ghost town. But the question is, will President Uhuru salvage PanPaper?