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Lapsset meeting ends in disarray

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By KALUME KAZUNGU
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Lamu County leaders have stormed out of a meeting that was to deliberate on land acquisition for the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project after disagreements arose.

The meeting was attended by Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau and brought together officials from the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority, the National Land Commission (NLC), the Ministry of Land, Ministry of Petroleum and the county government. It was taking place at the Majlis Hotel in Shella.

But the meeting ended prematurely after Governor Fahim Twaha, MPs Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Athman Sharif (Lamu East), Lamu Woman Rep Ruweida Obbo and MCAs stormed out citing failure by the national government, through the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority and the NLC, to listen and address the grievances of the locals concerning the land acquired for the project.

NLC has already allocated 70,000 acres of land to the Lapsset Corridor in Kililana and Mashunduani.

The land is meant to set up the already ongoing new Lamu port as well as other projects including the Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant in Kwasasi, the Lamu-Lokichar crude oil pipeline, a railway line and other Lapsset components.

But the leaders expressed disappointment over the move by the NLC to allocate a huge parcel of Lamu land to the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority without even compensating those who were settled there.

Governor Twaha said they are tired of land injustices and discrimination of Lamu residents in employment at the construction phase of the port.

Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha

Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha (in black hat) addressing journalists outside Majlis Hotel after leading other county leaders to storm out of the Lapsset meeting on September 27, 2018. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He asked the Lapsset board and managers, the NLC and all the stakeholders concerned to come to Lamu and hold fresh talks with locals and leaders in order to iron out differences on the land issue.

“We are tired of being taken in circles. People sit in Nairobi and make decisions concerning Lamu lands thinking that we are asleep. They should know that this is our land and if they are to take those lands, due procedure must be followed.

“You can’t take a whole 70,000 acres of Lamu land without even compensating the owners. Very few people were compensated and we won’t allow any land to go just like that. We will stand with our people and ensure they get justice,” said Mr Twaha.

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Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama accused the government of failing to honour the initial agreement that was to ensure Lamu residents are fully involved the development of the Lapsset project as well as any other project intended to be undertaken in the county.

Mr Muthama also accused the NLC of duping and frustrating residents of their land in a bid to expand acreage for parcels acquired for the Lapsset project.

The legislator said it is unfair and unrealistic for the government to ignore concerns that include providing a way forward on compensation for fishermen who will be locked out of their fishing zones due to the Lapsset activities.

“We support all national government projects intended for our county but all in all we won’t have the government frustrate our people especially over the Lapsset and coal plant projects’ compensation. Such mega projects are in our county and our concerns must thus be taken into account.

“People have had their lands secretly incorporated into the acreage for Lapsset. And no one wants to listen. If they don’t come down and deal with us, we shall make their work very difficult and unbearable here. Let them ensure justice for our poor people,” said Mr Muthama.

Lamu leaders

Lamu leaders the Majlis Hotel in Shella on September 27, 2018 after they stormed out of a meeting called to discuss land acquisition for the Lapsset Corridor project. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Lamu West MP Athman Sharif called on the government to ensure that any resident whose land is acquired for national government projects is compensated in cash instead of being given alternative land.

“All lands are occupied in Lamu. I am shocked to hear that the government wants to compensate land for land for the Kwasasi farmers where the coal plant is intended. That can’t happen. Let the people be given monetary compensation since even land valuation was already done and people promised to be paid Sh800,000 per acre,” said Mr Sharif.

Woman Rep Ruweida Obbo challenged the NLC to withdraw the title deed issued to the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority for the 70,000 acres of Lamu land.

“Let the NLC withdraw the title deed for the 70,000 acres of land. We want them to come down and discuss with us on how the rest of the land will be compensated before including it as Lapsset land. Only a few people were compensated and we will accept nothing less than the lands which were paid for. If they want more land, let them pay for it,” said Mrs Obbo.



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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.

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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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