The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Neto Pledges to Improve Ndhiwa Roads, Education

Ndhiwa ODM MP-elect Augustino Neto has promised to address the poor roads and education standards in the area.

He said his top priority will be to win the confidence of the people of Ndhiwa by ensuring that the change is felt during his short stint in Parliament. Neto said the three-month term will be an acid test for his re-election bid in the coming general election.

Speaking after being declared winner in the by-election, Neto promised to tackle poverty by enhancing commercial agriculture. "Ndhiwa is agriculturally rich yet our people are still wallowing in poverty. I plan to initiate ways to make farming a commercial venture," he said. The by-election was held after the death of former MP Orwa Ojode in a helicopter crash in Kibiku Forest in Ngong on June 10.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti, two bodyguards, a pilot and co-pilot perished in the accident. Sugarcane is the only cash crop in the constituency which partly falls within the South Nyanza sugarbelt. Neto said he will work with local sugar factories to enhance cane farming through loans for farm inputs, adding that he will work to get markets farmers' produce.

Other issues in his priority list include improvement of education standards especially among girls. "Ndhiwa has the highest number of girls dropout and early marriages. We want to empower the girlchild by working with relevant stakeholders to increase education performance among girls and the general population," added Neto.

"Schools in the constituency used to take top positions in national exams, but in the last 19 years the education standards have reduced drastically." Neto said he will work closely with the stakeholders - teachers, parents, children, leaders and other institutions - to revive education in the constituency.

Ndhiwa is ranked among the poorest constituencies in Kenya with poverty level of 23 and high maternity rates according to the 2010 Kenya Health Demographic Survey. Neto was declared a winner in the Monday after garnering 21,467 votes while his closest challenger Kanu's Tom Alila got 2,279 and TNA's Rosemery Rumo garnered 215.

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