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Queries as KPC fails to abandon old line

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By EDWIN OKOTH
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After spending Sh48 billion in a kickback-driven pipeline project from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya Pipeline Company is pondering what to do with the old line (Line 1) on which it had already spent Sh6 billion on various pumping stations, before it was abandoned for brand-new infrastructure.

By going back to repair Line 1, which was built in the 1970s, KPC will be confirming critics’ suspicions that there was no need of forgoing the upgrading of the line from 14 to 16 inches — which had already started before they opted for a new pipeline — known as Line 5.

Already, KPC has advertised tenders to replace 15km of Line 1 — months after it commissioned the use of Line 5.

The company said the 15km stretch will be replaced in the repairs, whose cost, although not disclosed, will run into hundreds of millions of shillings. The tendering process has already begun after a Dutch consultant examined the old line and identified the corroded sections in need of replacement.

KPC acting managing director Hudson Andambi said the old line will still be instrumental in supplying fuel from Mombasa as an alternative for the new line when the need arises, as it is still useful even after the new line began operations.

“The old line has not reached zero value and we still need it especially before the new line is fully operational. It is a complementary line and it will guarantee continuity and security of supply whenever we have to repair the new line,” Mr Andambi said.

The latest data from KPC released in November 2018 shows that Line 5 was still operating about 80 percent of its installed flow rate of one million litres per hour. Mr Andambi’s confirmation that the new line was still not fully operational adds to questions about why millions would be spent to repair the old line.

Those in the know intimate that KPC spent a significant amount of money to instal new pumps in the old line just before a decision was made to build a new 20-inch pipeline. It is this investment that the firm may be targeting to protect to avoid the line lying idle and further wasting taxpayers’ money.

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KPC is said to have sunk some Sh4 billion between 2008 and 2013 to buy pumps and other auxiliary equipment as part of the plan to upgrade to a 16-inch pipeline from the 14-inch one.

Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said the old line remains useful in ferrying fuel, including being dedicated to one product like, kerosene.

Mr Kamau admitted that the new line has not reached its maximum flow rate, corroborating Mr Andambi’s argument that the old line makes an appropriate alternative for Line 5.

“It is useful of course even for just carrying specific products like jet fuel. We also need higher capacity for fuel delivery to meet the growing market both locally and in the region. The export market is fast expanding and Kenya’s petroleum sales out there are bound to go up after we tamed adulteration, “Mr Kamau said, emphasising that the old line was an asset that should not be wasted.

The use of Line 1 as an alternative to the new line before it even attains its target flow rate puts into question its utilisation in a move that may see KPC run two pipelines at half capacity each.

Lower utilisation of the Sh48 billion line, which was also funded to the tune of Sh35 billion from a consortium of local banks, may affect its value for money in the long run.

The replacement will take place around Samburu and Konza, where KPC had alleged to have lost millions of litres through spillage. This has been discounted by oil marketers.

“If you look at the history of the major spillages we have had, you will notice that we have had challenges in these areas due to high salinity. This will offer a long-lasting response to the losses we may get as a result of the leakages due to the damaged pipe,” Mr Andambi told the Nation.



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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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