Deputy President William Ruto has said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Sh4 billion investment in the Ruiru small arms factory was a misplaced priority. Kenyatta unveiled the small arms factory in Kiambu County on April 8, 2021. While addressing civil society groups in Nairobi on Tuesday, June 21, Ruto said it was improper for the government to spend Sh4 billion on the factory, “only to employ 100 people”.
“We are looking at a big challenge today – unemployment. It’s the elephant in the room,” he said. “When I hold a political rally on, let’s say Tuesday or Wednesday, and you find thousands of people attending the event, it tells you that there’s an unemployment problem in this country. Ordinarily, no one would want to attend a political rally if he or she has something engaging to do,” said the deputy president.
Dr Ruto said if he wins the presidential contest on August 9, he will prioritise job-creation. Referring to the Ruiru light arms project that President Kenyatta launched in April last year, the DP said: “It’s a good thing [to have a firearms factory]. We need guns for our security [as a nation]. However, [spending Sh4 billion on a firearms factory], while we have thousands of people without jobs [is a misplaced priority]. The priority should be on investing in infrastructure that enables job-creation,” he said. The DP said the Ruiru firearms factory employs only 100 people.
“With the same Sh4 billion [used in the Ruiru firearms project], we’d have created around 5,000 jobs by investing in the informal manufacturing sector,” said Ruto.
The DP said if he wins the presidential election in August, he will channel funds to agro-processing, value addition and manufacturing. These sectors, he said, will create thousands of job opportunities. While unveiling the Ruiru weaponry factory last year, President Kenyatta said the facility would enhance Kenya’s security self-reliance through local production of equipment and technologies. He said the plant would produce at least 12,000 assault rifles annually, drawing 60 per cent of its input from local sources. Ruto, in his speech on Tuesday, pledged to safeguard the civil societies’ rights to critique the government.
The event was attended by Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust Executive Director Daisy Amdany, Abraham Rugo of the Okoa Uchumi Campaign and Joan Akoth of the Institute of Social Accountability, among others.