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Wa Iria imposes water tax for Nairobi, Kiambu

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By NDUNGU GACHANE
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Water consumers in Kiambu and Nairobi may have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for water should the wrangles going on in Murang’a continue.

This is after Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and the county assembly vowed stop construction of the Sh6.8bn Northern Collector Tunnel if the county does not receive 25 per cent of revenue got from selling the commodity to Nairobi and Kiambu.

The governor will also go for the same cut in Ndakai-ini dam, which supplies 84 per cent of water to Nairobi. The move has elicited a sharp reaction from the national government. It has vowed to step in should Murang’a county stick to its guns on the matter, which threatens to derail the World Bank-funded northern collector tunnel.

The governor said water was the only natural resource from the county and would not allow other counties to be selling it to consumers when the county residents had no water and received no single penny from the natural resource.

“Water is our oil. Residents in Turkana demand their fair share through demonstrations and picketing until the government listened to them. We are not an exception, we can’t be giving water to other counties for free when they sell the same commodity to residents,” the governor said.

Speaking at Kenol town when he met the community volunteers the county boss said Nairobi had over 1,000 swimming pools constructed by water from Ndakaini while Murang’a people had serious challenges of water shortage and paid water at exaggerated prices.

“If it’s hot, people in Nairobi stay in swimming pools like crocodiles while in Murang’a we are grappling with water challenges. If they don’t part with 25 per cent of the revenue they collect, I shall lead the people of Murang’a in blocking the water that goes to those counties,” the governor vowed.

He said that revenue from the counties that benefit from Murang’a water will play a pivotal role in supplying the county constituents with water. More than 70 per cent of the county population has no access of safe and clean drinking water.

Mr Iria announced that the county assembly was in the process of formulating a County Water Bill that will outline how water will be managed and that which goes to other counties.

“The assembly is drafting a law which will encompass the views of members of public over the management of water companies and giving clear guidelines on why we shall benefit with our water which goes to Kiambu and Nairobi counties,” he reiterated.

He said that, in the law, there will be a provision of free water to the first 60 litres of water as well as dissolution of water companies to merge them into one company which will decentralise the water company operations.

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However Athi Water Services Board Acting Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Thuita rubbished Mr Iria’s claims saying the county has received water projects worth Sh600 million courtesy of the Northern Water project.

Talking to Nation on phone the CEO said there are ongoing water projects like Gatanga Water project, Kenol Maragua water project to boost Kandara bulk water supply, Gatango water project in Mathioya.

“We had received county government’s petition proposing to get a certain percentage of the revenue but they should understand that water is a national resource managed by the boards and not counties. We have initiated several water projects that will benefit the people of Murang’a,” Mr Thuita said

He said Gatanga water project will be completed next year while all the others will be complete by June next year a move he said will make the county the first ever county to attain waster connection of 80 per cent.

Senator Irungu Kangata supported the governor’s proposal, saying the county has always been given a raw deal by the nation government. He said the National Government should conduct an audit of water projects which were to be established before Northern Water Collector Tunnel is launched and operational.

The Senator said that, despite the project being 80 per cent complete, none of the water projects had been established. He said it was against the conditions set out by Murang’a people to the National Government that the project should not be operational before residents are supplied with water.

He added that there should be meetings between the government and the people to discuss the way forward. Two years ago, Opposition leader Raila Odinga said the project would reduce eight counties into deserts. He accused the government of working secretly on the project.

Mr Odinga wanted President Kenyatta to immediately stop the World Bank-funded water project until a comprehensive audit on environmental concerns raised by residents was done. He warned that its implementation would deny residents of Murang’a, Ukambani, Garissa, Tana River and other parts of the Coast their source of livelihood.

Last week, residents of Kiriaini village in Gatanga Constituency urged the Athi Water Services Board to halt the project accusing the contractor of storming into their farms and slashing farm produce before they had come into an agreement with them. Environmentalists claim that the contractors altered the original design and put up structures ‘designed to collect water from the upstream instead of downstream’.



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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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