Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has detailed the cost of the ongoing operation in Somalia, stating that sustaining the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) there is a very expensive affair for the Kenyan government.
In his address at the Chatham House in the UK on Wednesday, March 16, the former Prime Minister revealed that the operation cost the country Ksh210 million every month on personnel only, translating to over Ksh2.5 billion a year.
He further explained that the cost of the war affects the country’s economy and has led to a budget deficit of up to Ksh236 billion.
“We, in Kenya, know the cost of war, and its adverse effects on our economy, as a result of the internal conflicts in our neighboring countries. Our intervention in Somalia, for example, necessary as it is, has been very expensive to us.
“It is estimated that we spend at least 210 million shillings per month (USD2.8 million) in personnel costs alone in a year where we have recorded Ksh236 billion (USD3.1 billion) total budget deficit,” stated the former Prime Minister in his address.
KDF and Kenya Navy entered into Somalia in 2011 with the aim flushing out the Al Shabaab militants who had taken the neighbouring country hostage and staged attacks in Kenya.
In an operation christened Operation Sledgehammer, the Kenyan troops secured the port of Kismayu in October 2012, depriving the Islamist group one of its key sources of revenue and trade routes.
Since then, the Somalia military has been working hand-in-hand with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Ethiopian Forces to secure the city, which is the main sea entry point into the war-torn country.
In a past interview, KDF Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Godfrey Owuor noted that the state was impressed with the officers’ progress in Somalia despite mounting calls to have the troops withdrawn.
“We are very impressed by the achievements so far and we believe that when they take the same stride, we will see a completely peaceful Jubaland and Kismayu in the next 10 years,” he stated at the time.
Kenya has also suffered as a result of the invasion with the Al Shabaab militants lodging attacks in various places including the Westgate Mall, DusitD2, Mpeketoni and Garissa University.
The former Prime Minister also hinted at the return of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), explaining that constitutional reforms are imperative and this would create a political, social and economic environment in which all Kenyans would feel welcome.
“I am convinced, however, that our Constitution still needs some reforms to make it more effective and reduce the excess administrative baggage that were created in our enthusiasm to protect the people against the harshness of authoritarian rule that had terrorized the people for many years.
“A candid look at the relationship between Parliament and the Executive is vital. The government must be present in Parliament to be accountable directly to the elected leaders and not through proxy civil servants,” he stated.