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Investors still hope for payouts as banks beckon

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By ERIC WAINAINA
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Between 2010 and 2012, Mr Francis Kahura applied and got a Sh234 million loan to build residential houses on the Nairobi-Nakuru road, hoping to make a killing from the growing demand for houses in areas near Nairobi.

The businessman built three blocks in Zambezi and another in Regen, all comprising 130 units, a lifetime investment.

But even before he could pay a sizeable fraction of the loan in 2015, he was informed that the houses, which were already occupied, would be affected by the construction of the Sh16 billion James Gichuru junction-Rironi road.

The properties were among the more than 4,000 the government targeted for compulsory acquisition to give room for the 26-kilometre project.

The road is being constructed by China Wu Yi company.

Between September and November 2017, the Kenya National Highways Authority marked the apartments for demolition, triggering an exodus of tenants.

This did not worry Mr Kahura for he expected compensation from the government in December when work on the road would begin.

With tenants leaving, he began having difficulties servicing the bank loan.

“My flats are empty and I have no money. The banks are writing demand letters. I contacted KeNHA and the National Land Commission in January 2018 with the demand letters and they promised to look into my problem,” Mr Kahura said in a November 5, 2018 sworn affidavit.

In February this year, KeNHA and NLC gave Mr Kahura the compensation offer, which he gladly accepted and took the documents to the bank to be given a three-month grace period.

This is the time allowed in the resettlement action plan for the loan repayment.

Almost a year down the line, Mr Kahura and many others have not received a dime.

Though his buildings have not been torn down, the businessman earns nothing from them, thereby defaulting on his loan.

And the lenders have not stopped writing demand letters. On December 4, Mr Kahura got a warning from the banks. They threatened to auction his multimillion-shilling properties.

The businessman says unless he is compensated now, he may end up a pauper.

The road project, which is already underway, affects 4,400 people. They are to get close to Sh11 billion in compensation.

Some 2,653 properties are in the 8.995-kilometre project zone from Zambezi to Uthiru, dubbed sub-lot 3B.

They include residential homes, schools and churches.

According to the government, the owners are entitled to Sh7.2 billion in compensation.

Sub-lot 3A, which runs from James Gichuru junction to Uthiru, has approximately 1,000 properties. The owners are supposed to get Sh2.2 billion.

Sub-lot 3C, which runs from Zambezi to Kamandura, has about 800 victims seeking Sh1.4 billion from the State.

Ms Jackline Njoki is another businessperson affected by the road project.

She now plays cat-and-mouse games with her tenants after they demanded their rent deposits. They left because some of the houses are to be brought down.

Ms Njoki, who owns 34 houses in Mountain View, says NLC and KeNHA surveyors marked 10 of her flats and a perimeter wall for demolition.

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Other tenants in the nearby houses left as they couldn’t stand the effects of the ongoing construction.

The tenants have ganged up to demand their deposits. “It is not easy to raise the amount as I have been using almost all the earnings from the other flats to service a loan,” the landlady said.

Businesses are making losses as customers cannot gain access to them.

Mr Kimani Njuki, the director of Rokim Group Ltd in Kinoo, says he lost a Sh50 million grant from Usaid. The agency wanted him to make and supply 18,000 energy saving jikos.

“When we received a notice for demolition, Usaid cancelled the deal. Our company suffered huge losses,” Mr Njuki said.

“We have not taken any orders for a year due to the prevailing circumstances.”

He added that he would have moved and continued with his business had the government compensated him at the agreed time.

The affected businesspeople have formed a committee and written to the NLC, KeNHA, National Treasury, World Bank, Senate and National Assembly.

They back their demands with documentary and photographic evidence.

Members of the group want the contractor to suspend work on the road project until they are compensated.

Contacted, NLC vice chairperson Abigail Mbagaya said she is aware of the “very unfortunate” delay, but laid all the blame on KeNHA “since the authority is supposed to provide the money”.

“The commission does not have money for compulsory acquisition. The acquiring agency, which in this case is KeNHA, should provide the funds. We have not received anything from the authority,” Ms Mbagaya told the Sunday Nation.

KeNHA Director-General Peter Mundinia admitted that a majority of the affected businesses have not been compensated.

“Out of the 26 kilometres, only businesses on a two-kilometre stretch have been compensated,” Mr Mundinia said.

Like NLC, he passed the buck to another government agency: the National Treasury.

Mr Mundinia said the ministry is slow to release the money and when it does, it is not always enough. He added that the payment plan is still on course.

“The National Treasury knows what we need. We might get enough during the supplementary budget for the areas the commission has carried out valuation,” he said.

The authority, he added, cannot do any work on land or building without having fully compensated the owners.

The affected traders have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

They say their properties are not of any economic value even though they have not been demolished.

“Delay in compensation can have terrible effects on a business. The market value of the property, for example, is determined at the date of the publication of the acquisition notice.

“Inflation also affects the value of a property. Those affected by the project may be left with negative costs even when they are compensated,” Mr Njuki, the vice chairman of the committee, 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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