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Explainer: How bank safe boxes work

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By LEONARD ONYANGO
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A safe deposit box is a strong storage container maintained in the vault area of a bank and rented to bank clients for safekeeping of their valuables. These boxes are said to be resistant to fire, floods and theft, and their contents are covered by the bank’s insurer.

What are safe boxes in banks used for / What can be kept in them?

The safe boxes are rented by clients wishing to store vital documents such as logbooks, title deeds, marriage certificates, insurance policies, jewellery, foreign currency, educational certificates among others.

However, clients are discouraged from storing essential documents such as Wills and passports. It’s advisable to keep a Will with a lawyer for easy access by family members upon one’s death. What can be kept in the vault is a copy of the same.

Do banks allow cash to be kept in safe boxes?

Cash can be kept in the boxes but it does not earn interest.

How are they operated and who has access?

One key is issued to the client for access while the bank retains a copy. The two keys are needed to access the contents of the box so both the customer and a bank staff have to be present to open the safe.

Each bank has its own guidelines on who can access the safe box. At the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), for example, safe deposit lockers can be operated by up to two people including an authorised agent.

Do banks verify the contents of safe boxes?

Banks do not check the contents of safety deposit boxes. This is because since the contents are private and confidential, a client signs an indemnity document that states that should authorities find anything illicit, the person to be prosecute or held fully liable is the client and not the bank.

This is why a safety deposit is usually covered by a cash margin or deposit in case of any eventualities or penalties.

What is the procedure for getting a safe box at a bank?

The client expresses interest in renting the box and then pays for the service after fulfilling all the legal requirements and following laid down procedures for the same.

The requirements vary depending on whether the safe box is intended for an individual, a company, a partnership, a club or an association.

For the CBA, an individual is required to submit a duly completed and signed application form, original Kenyan national identity card or valid passport and the photocopies for each signatory.

A limited company is required to submit a board resolution, signed by at least two directors, stating the intention to lease a locker, the required size and the signing/operating mandate.

How much does this service cost?

The Co-operative Bank of Kenya offers a standard annual fee of Sh3,000 while Stanbic, CBA and I&M rates are dependent on the size of the box, which is determined by the bulk of the contents.

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Stanbic charges its clients between Sh2,400 and Sh6,000, exclusive of a 16 per cent value added tax. Standard Chartered Bank halted the service in 2010.

I&M safe deposit clients are not subjected to any charges. Rather, they are required to place an interest-free security with the bank. The amount differs depending on the size of the box. 

Clients are also required to hold personal accounts with the bank.  The deposit ranges from Sh80,000 to Sh300,000 and the money is refundable.

For CBA, the annual cost ranges from Sh2,000 to Sh5,800 depending on the size of the box. The client pays Sh200 per visit and is required to deposit a fee of Sh10,000 which is non-interest bearing and refundable.

After how long are safe boxes considered abandoned?

According to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act, of 2011, uncashed bankers cheques and contents in safe deposit boxes that are unclaimed for more than two years are classified as unclaimed assets.

The assets are surrendered to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA), which keeps the cash in the Central Bank of Kenya’s trust account.

Assets covered by the Act also include bank cash balances, insurance policies, utility deposits and court awards abandoned for between two and five years.

What are the advantages of safe boxes?

Unlike home safes, a safe deposit box is secure as it has a smoke detectors and surveillance cameras and is made of fire resistant materials.

Kenyans living abroad are some of those opting for safe deposit boxes as there is the assurance that their important documents will not fall into the wrong hands.

Are there concerns about safe boxes?

In 2018, John Mututho, a politician and former chairman of the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) boss, asked the CBK to conduct an audit of bank safes, saying they could be holding fraudulently acquired wealth.

Mr Mututho expressed fear that some banks might be holding on to corruptly acquired cash.

“While we should be worrying about loot stashed in foreign accounts, we should not forget to probe local avenues that can be used to hide the cash,” he said.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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