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Rising interest of rally drivers boosts WRC hosting chances

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On the first weekend of July, Kenya will be hosting a World Rally Championship (WRC) candidate rally with the noble objective of returning to the global circuit by 2020.

Safari was dropped from the WRC calendar in October 2002 after the government failed to meet some necessary guarantees demanded by the Global Body, FIA. The Safari served as a round of the WRC from 1973 to 2002, but was relegated to ARC status, to the chagrin of local rally lovers. Now Kenya’s candidature, which could see the iconic Safari return to the FIA global calendar, is already eliciting interest among global top drivers.

FIA’s Michelle Mouton is expected in the country early next year to inspect three blocks of the 2019 route in Naivasha and Kajiado. The WRC Safari Project, a three-year initiative being funded by the government to the tune of Sh300 million, could see the world-beating speed merchants descend on the historic but energy-sapping Safari terrain.

One of them is former M-Sport driver Mads Østberg, who has expressed interest in driving in the 2019 Safari Rally. Østberg won the 2012 Portugal Rally when driving an M-sport Ford Fiesta WRC, and scored many final podium finishes. He also won the Norwegian NRC title three times: in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Østberg is now searching for a contract with an official team in the WRC.

“Flying Finn” Tapio Laulkanen, a former Kenya, Britain and Finland rally champion, was back racing in the Mini Classic Safari in Kabras’ Porsche 911.

Mark Tufte, one of the biggest rally-sport social promoters, said: “When I saw Tapio return to Kenya, I asked Mads Østberg if he’s interested in racing the Safari Rally 2019 in July. He replied he’s really interested. I linked him to Kabras staff but they couldn’t come to an agreement due to some logistical issues. There’s still some options.”

A few days ago, Mark Tufte, the admin of Make Roads Safe, posted on social media: “An active WRC driver interested in racing the Safari Rally. Hope a deal can be sealed. Fingers crossed #Safari2Wrc” Quickly, the rumour spread that the driver is Mads Østberg. To make it clear, we asked Mark Tufte himself: “That’s not wrong, I can say Mads Østberg was about to enter the Safari Rally 2019 in July. As we’re both from Norway, it was easier for me to ask him if he would be interested to do the Safari,” he said.

“The idea came to me when he announced that he will do the Otago Rally in New Zealand in 2019. It was his first confirmed event as he lost his seat at Citroen Racing. I approached him and told him the Safari could be the second one. Østberg has immediately shown a great interest in the race. Then I linked him to the people who could make it happen. Even when he was dealing his contract in Rallycross with Skoda, he got back to me many times to ask about the Safari Rally. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come to an agreement.

“Nevertheless, I haven’t lost hope: There’s still some options. Personally I’m convinced that hosting a top driver like Mads is a great opportunity for African teams and events. It has a great PR and ROI values. The Google search about the Otago Rally has significantly increased after Mads announced he’ll do it. You know many events in Europe or Asia try hard to attract big boys but they can’t manage it.”

Tufte added, “Since we created Rallying in Africa in 2013, we’re always aiming to bring back the WRC in Africa. We have some great events. The Safari, of course, but also the Rallye Bandama in Ivory Coast or the York Ralky in South Africa, which are rounds of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC).”

Phineas Kimathi, CEO of the Kasarani Stadium-based project, announced that some top world drivers are keen on recceing the Safari route, as the date next year doesn’t clash with a WRC event.

DIMINISHING ENTRIES

Although entries for the Kenya National Rally Championship were few and far between, the entertainment aspect was never wanting more so with the introduction of the B13 formula.

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Event entries and spectator fervour continued to diminish but not speed which has been the order of the day when Tapio joined the KNRC.

FLASH RULES KNRC

Six wins, a season double, equalling Safari record, four career KNRCs crowned Carl “Flash” Tundo’s most successful season.

Carl and Manvir Baryan were the most decorated Kenyan drivers as the “fast and furious’ 2018 rallying season came to a dramatic end.

Manvir, driving a Skoda Fabia R5 and navigated by his British partner Drew Sturrock, swept the ground with all his continental race adversaries to clinch back-to-back FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) titles. After an excruciating exit on the 2018 Safari, Manvir who was fighting for the title with compatriot Piero Cannobio won four rallies in a row in Zambia, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania before skipping the season closing Mountain Gorilla Rally of Rwanda.

MANVIR BREAKS THE DUCK

And Manvir entered his name in the annals of rallying artistry for being the first non-South African to win its ARC round better known as the York Rally (formerly Sasol Rally).

Manvir also became the first Kenyan driver to win back to back ARC titles, and indeed two continental titles.

SHEKHAR’S RECORD EQUALLED

Back home, Tundo was the talk of town with six wins under his belt on the eight leg KNRC. Tundo equalled the longstanding Shekhar Mehta’s record of five Safari wins which was no mean achievement.

Mehta’s five wins were achieved during WRC days while Tundo attained his in the ARC era. Tundo’s majestic march to the KNRC summit was not without drama though. He hit a wildbeast on KMSC Rally but surprisingly racked up his third win of the season.

In the wake of the wildbeast drama, Tundo had this to say: “I’m super happy, but upset that Baldev Chager couldn’t finish after leading most of the rally.”

Despite hitting a wildebeest and damaging the front left of his Top Fry Mitsubishi Evolution 10, Carl “Flash” Tundo savoured an emphatic hat-trick of wins when the dust settled. After a rather frustrating outing in Mombasa, which saw the five-time Safari champion settle for third position, Tundo was peerless in Nanyuki. Nanyuki went down as Carl’s fourth win of the season after RSC Rally, ARC Safari and KMSC Rally.

Carl and his partner Tim Jessop sealed the 2018 KNRC on winning their fifth event at the Kabras Eldoret Rally where he snatched victory by a mere three seconds from under the nose of Baldev Chager in the last competitive stage after playing second-fiddle for most of the rally.

‘’I am surprised we beat Chager in the final section of Eldoret rally. He had beaten us badly in the previous stages. We thought of just trying harder in the final section to try and beat him but we were shocked it was finally done by a mere three seconds,’’ said Jessop.

Former National Rally champion Baldev Charger was alongside teammate Tundo the fastest drivers in the 2018 season. Chager won the 6th round in the coast when he ended his winless streak to beat Tundo. Despite finishing third in Kilifi, Tundo still enjoyed top of the table with 118 points.

B13 PHASED OUT

The B13 category, which allows a bigger restrictor and sequential gear box, has sinc been phased out by KMSF band effective 2019 and it will be interesting to note what’s up the sleeves of Baldev and Tundo who used this formula. Charger finished second both in B13 and the main class.

KCB AUTOCROSS

The KCB Autocross series traversed various parts of the country in Mombasa, Juja, Nanyuki and Nakuru among others. Father and son Kirit Rajput and Yuvi Rajput win the Open and Bambio class while Imran Hakada retained the 2WD Turbo Classes.

Former Safari Rally Coupe des Dames multiple champion Safina became a beneficiary of the 75% participation rule when he finished second but won the 2WDT championship. Hamza who has the most points didn’t meet the 75% threshold.

 

 

 

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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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