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We sold our port and our soul to the devil





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A report by Auditor General Edward Ouko’s office shows that Kenya may lose Mombasa port because of debt: The shocking part about the revelation is not about us losing control of the port… that was kind of expected in my view.

We have watched Zambia lose their airport, we have also seen Sri Lanka lose their port to the Chinese.

Indeed, given our love affair with mismanagement of funds and corruption, and knowing how much our government has asked for loans from the Chinese government and continues to do so, it is really unexpected news that we may lose the Mombasa port. Of course we will.

One would think with the whistle-blowing and access to information when it comes to the rampant corruption in the country, something would have long ago been done about it.

Like the shepherd boy in the fable, the Auditor General’s office is crying wolf, and there really is a wolf, and unlike in the fable, we do believe him, but we just act as though there is nothing we can do.

We are content to leave the wolf to eat his fill, seeing that we don’t know actually how many sheep we have to begin with, and people are therefore not concerned we may be running out.

I recently took a trip to Mombasa with a few family members. Travelling on the standard gauge railway on the Madaraka Express was a first time for most of us.

Departure was at 8am, so we left home in a taxi early that morning. The first thing I noticed at the station was the large crowd waiting to enter after going through the security check.

Just as we got there, the train that comes from the CBD to the station, which drops off passengers from downtown, had come to a screeching halt.

And an even bigger crowd of people ran to the gates, which were still closed but a few minutes later were opened to let the crowd join the other crowd in the lines.

So, a swarm of people, not for those claustrophobic at heart. There we were, calm and getting into line when a woman whispered to my husband, “You are in the women’s line.” So he walked over to the other lines and finally found what he believed was a men’s line. There were no signs.


So we waited, crawling to the entrance, dragging our luggage, as there were no trolleys.

When we finally got to the front of the line, we were searched with those machines that swiftly run across your body while you have no idea if they work.

Then we were asked to walk in a file. Similar to something you would imagine at a boot camp. After the first check, at this point, both the male line and female line had merged, but nobody was yelling at us at this point. We had to drop our bags and take a few steps back as we waited for the sniffer dogs to smell out contraband in our luggage.

Don’t you dare touch your bag too early – you will then really have someone yelling at you, as if you had committed a very serious crime.

Then after the signal that said it was alright to grab your bag, we were back in line, which had now divided into male and female again – once again, no signs – and passing our bags through a scanner.

Well, finally we got to the ticket station, where you can plug in your purchased-online ticket, it is printed, and then is checked at the main entrance.

Up the stairs filled with people, pushing, shoving… Then you are on to the ramp to the next train. At this point, I was flustered, grateful we would be in Mombasa in a few hours, because after that ordeal, I needed a break.

There were bottlenecks all over the station. As for the train, the ride was smooth, it left and arrived on time to the very minute, which was impressive. However, there are parts of the station that need to be completed in Mombasa; the route we used to get out of the station looked like an evacuation or emergency exit. There were no windows, the ground was still cemented.

Even though the train is not perfect, there are things that go well and things that can be done better.

What were the billions used for? And was it worth our country selling its soul to the devil?

It was all supposedly in the cause of development – yet what kind of development is it when you spend more than 300 billion shillings ($3 billion) but you can’t find a trash bin in the station?

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, executive director, Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW


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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard




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.


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




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




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.


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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