By Dave Opiyo and Gaitano Pessa
Kenya's top leadership was on Wednesday compelled to talk about shortage of maize flour in parts of the country while on a campaign tour of Busia to drum up support for their re-election.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto assured Kenyans that all efforts were being undertaken to import more maize to address the shortage of the staple.
The two accused unscrupulous traders of taking advantage of the shortage to force consumers to buy other items from them as a condition to get the subsidised flour.
Others sold the flour at way over the recommended price of Sh90 for a 2kg packet, they said.
President Kenyatta said if found guilty, such business people will have their trade licences revoked.
"As any responsible government, we set aside Sh6 billion to import maize," Mr Ruto told Jubilee Party supporters at Budalangi, Funyula, Bumala and Nambale. "This is already being done.
"We, therefore, want to assure Kenyans that this issue (flour shortage) will be resolved. They should not worry. Let's all be patient."
The two leaders, who were accompanied by Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba and a host of other leaders, also campaigned in Matayos and Amagoro in the expansive county.
"Police have been urged to be vigilant and flag such individuals," said Mr Ruto. "If arrested, they will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
"The public should also assist us by naming such individuals."
The DP said despite agriculture being a devolved function, the national government saw it necessary to step in and help to remedy the situation.
"We did not have this shortage in 2013 and the subsequent years," said Mr Ruto. "It is only this year that this issue has affected us.
"We are, however, equal to the task and will address it. We also want to ensure that our farmers are well taken care of so that they produce enough food for all Kenyans."
The county got goodies including construction of Sigiri Bridge to curb deaths of people crossing River Nzoia and open up the region further for trade. The bridge will become operational mid next month. A boat tragedy in the river in 2014 claimed 11 lives.
The President also announced the writing off of farmers' loans at Bunyala Co-operative Society and compensation of all integrated IDPs. He said the local cotton industry, including all the ginneries in Busia, will be revived.
"We want to ensure that the region reclaims its position as a major cotton producer in the country," said President Kenyatta. "We have already revived Rivatex Company in Eldoret.
"The next will be Kicomi in Kisumu, then another one in Mt Kenya. We will also ensure that the region also has a sugar factory.
The Head of State announced the construction of several key roads in the region and connection of more homes to electricity, among others. He urged residents to re-elect him.
Water CS Eugene Wamalwa said 34 dykes will be constructed at a cost of Sh5 billion. This, he said, will end the perennial flooding that has affected residents for many years.
Mr Namwamba said he joined Jubilee because its leadership was focused, truthful and delivered on all their promises.