Commuters and traders have called on the national government to lift the night travel ban on the Lamu-Garsen route, saying the move has paralysed their operations.
Speaking in Lamu on Monday, locals said the ban has greatly affected them since they are faced with difficulties, especially during times of emergencies that require them to travel at night.
The night travel ban was imposed in the region on July 19, 2014 after seven people, including four administration police officers, were killed by Al-Shabaab terrorists who ambushed a Tahmeed bus enroute to Lamu from Mombasa at Mambo Sasa forest in Witu.
“We used to travel any time we want. The night travel ban on the Lamu-Garsen road has subjected us to suffering and we want it lifted. We always pray that emergencies don’t occur at night,” said Mr Fuad Salim, a commuter.
“If you have a patient who requires to be ferried to other hospitals in Malindi, Kilifi and Mombasa at night, you may even lose that patient because of the stages you will be required to go through before you are given the go-ahead. It’s high time that the ban was lifted.”
Ms Raya Famau, a civil rights activist and resident of Lamu, said there is no reason for the ban to remain in place as government agencies have assured security has “generally been restored across Lamu County”.
Ms Raya said apart from lifting the night travel ban, the government should also reconsider reducing or even removing the numerous roadblocks on the Lamu-Garsen road.
She said the roadblocks are too many, causing unnecessary delays for travellers who are forced to spend more hours on the road.
“The residents here, especially women and children, are really suffering while travelling on the Lamu-Garsen road,” said Ms Raya.
“You’re spending almost 12 hours while travelling during day time from Lamu to Mombasa due to the roadblocks.”
She added: “I think Lamu is now a very secure place and the government should think of lifting the night ban and removing or at least reducing the roadblocks on our road.”
Commuters plying the route have also accused police manning the various roadblocks of harassment and favouritism.
Bus drivers and their conductors have accused security agents of applying double standards since they allow shuttles to go through the roadblocks without undergoing the required rigorous security checks while buses are subjected to long gruelling hours of waiting as they go through the checks.
“We have seen a trend where shuttles plying the same route are not passing through the same security checks we are subjected to as bus drivers and passengers,” said Hussein Ahmed, another commuter.
“ Our passengers are required to alight and get screened together with their entire luggage while this is not the case for those using shuttles.”
Following the series of terror attacks, all public transport vehicles plying the road were also compelled to travel in one convoy under police protection. This requirement is still in force.
Lamu County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi has, however, called on Lamu-Garsen road users to be patient until the ongoing construction of the road is complete and security situation assured in the region.
The road, which is being constructed by the national government at a cost of Sh10.8 billion, is already more than 30 percent complete with the entire project expected to be ready by December this year.
“This concern of having the night travel ban lifted has been raised several times … Let’s wait for the road to be completed before we can do that,” said Mr Kioi
“It’s not a decision. I can just wake up and make it. We require some considerations on security arrangements.”
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.