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Ruto launches Sh200m fence to end human-wildlife conflict in Laikipia

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Deputy President William Ruto has launched a Sh200 million electric fence in Laikipia county as part of the government’s efforts in addressing the perennial human-wildlife conflicts in the region.

He said the 50-kilometre Rumuruti-Marmanet Forest fence would deter the conflicts that had resulted in huge losses.

Speaking at Gatundia secondary school after the launch of the fence on Monday, Ruto said the project would be completed in the next six months.

It was one of the pledged by the Jubilee Party ahead of the 2017 general election. Already, 14-kilometres of the project has been completed.

“We are implementing part of the election pledges we made to the people of Laikipia during the election. The citizens here have been disturbed for long, some lives have been lost while crops have been destroyed,” the DP said.

He went on: “The commencement of this fence means a lot to the people as their lives will be protected and their crops protected from destruction by wildlife.”

At the same time, Ruto said the government was finalising the compensation to families which had lost lives, or those who had been injured as a result of human-wildlife conflicts in the country.

Present were Governor Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), MPs Patrick Mariro (Laikipia West), Sarah Korere (Laikipia North), James Gichuhi (Tetu), Antony Kiai (Mukurweini), Rahab Mukami (Women Rep, Nyeri), Catherine Waruguru (Women Rep, Laikipia), John Kinyua (Senator, Laikipia), Samuel Kinuthia (Subukia), John Muragara (Tharaka Nithi), John Munene (Kirinyaga Central), and PS Margaret Mwakima.

The leaders lauded the government for moving swiftly to provide lasting solution to the human-wildlife conflicts.

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“We are grateful to the national government for this great project to the people of Laikipia. This will protect them against attacks from elephants that have terrorised them and their crops for a long time,” said Governor Mureithi.

The Deputy President also asked chiefs and their assistants to ensure all parents in their areas of jurisdictions took their children to school.

He said the Children Act stipulates that it is the responsibility of chiefs and their assistants to ensure all parents in their areas of jurisdiction take their children to school while parents who failed to take their children to schools risk being arrested.

He said Sh180 billion, which is 30 per cent of the country’s total budget, was being used to fund educational activities.

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Punish despicable MCAs for their embarrassing conduct

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By MICHAEL MUGWANG’A
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Recently, members of the Nairobi County Assembly treated us to quite a show. Their storming the Speaker’s office to preclude her from gaining access were both comical and embarrassing.

But what is even more worrying is the MCAs dishonouring summonses by the anti-graft body concerning their unethical conduct in the House.

This despite the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) warning them that failure to appear before it would lead to penal consequences.

Isaac Asimov, an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, spoke about the nature of politics in his time.

A popular quote by him reads: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Looking at the conduct of the MCAs, this aptly describes what their politics means in essence. To not show up at Integrity Centre, Nairobi, and later blame it on their retreat in Mombasa is, basically, dumbing down the Constitution in their favour.

Of course, we have focused on the drama and missed the main thing — that the snub, which has made this a passing story, almost like a silent headline, is what will eventually be the undoing of our democracy.

You have to say this for the crooked demagogues and reactionary populists these MCAs are: They may have stirred the bitter soup of resentment against Speaker Beatrice Elachi, but their integrity bolts unscrewed to an even more loose state the minute they snubbed the EACC.

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Day by day, news bulletin by news bulletin, the MCAs spiral to new depths of strategic confusion and moral chaos. On the escalators in the building that is devolution, the direction is always down, down, down.

In that episode, their incessant flights of insult, conspiracy theory and raw rage were on show. But to plunge us into an age of unquestionable authority right at local level is a dark veneer we must all condemn.

We suffer blind power, hungry power clad in jackets of disrespect, especially at the county level. What we must not ignore is the fact that, if we cannot keep a foothold on power at the lowest of levels, we will lack the mere muscle to push for such respect at the top.

The EACC is not only mandated to fight corruption, but also to promote integrity. What these MCAs are so arrogantly throwing in our face is the fact that we are helpless in the face of power, however small and measly. The antidote, however, is that the commission should take charge and get them.

Forget Elachi’s impeachment or the court order; their ignoring the EACC is the small problem that’s too huge to ignore.

How are we to maintain sanity, decency and moral courage in fighting corruption and maintaining integrity when they behave in this manner? While Nairobi should be the beaming capital city county, it is, sadly, a comic show of people who clearly are choking in the taste of their own saliva.

Institutions work only when respected. For a long time, we have accused the EACC of lacking active fortitude and results … of being spineless. We have poked holes into its reports and efforts. We have questioned its intent and existence. This, however, is the point where we need to point a finger where it actually matters.

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It is one thing to imagine that something is not serious and another to ignore it entirely. These leaders are the fulcrum by which our society turns. But they fail to see the democracy which got them there is a product of the Constitution they are so quick to slay.

I can imagine being summoned by the police to record a statement. The mere fear of the consequences of not abiding by the summons will take me there. These leaders lack that fear that drives respect.

The EACC should make good use of the Constitution. These MCAs forget that they can lose their seats for these flimsy reasons.

We live in the age of renewed vigour in tackling the sickness that is duplicity and corruption — right from the Office of the DPP to the rallying call by the President.

We cannot sit and watch as MCAs push us back, as they disrespectfully ignore the demands of the Constitution.

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Why capital city needs leaders with more substance than style

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By KALTUM GUYO
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In the latest United Nations survey on human development, Kenya ranks 142nd out of 189. In another report on the liveable cities; Nairobi, sadly, does not feature.

If you wonder why, I can tell you it is all in the pepper spray. If it is any consolation, the UN report indicates that Kenya is up one position from the last time on the ‘Human Development Index’.

According to the UN, the “perception of individual well-being” is based on polling responses on “quality of education, healthcare and living standards, along with a sense of personal safety and freedom of choice”.

We all have our views on the living standards of Nairobians — depending on where you stand on the political divide.

However, I do not hold my breath that things will improve for Nairobi any time soon, given the level of poor governance exhibited time and again.

I have written in these pages on how we find it easier to turn to anger and violence to solve even the slightest of misunderstandings.

The type of fist-fights and kicks and punches we saw during the impeachment of the Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly is stuff for a nursery school playground.

Even then, pupils had to be admonished in order to learn to grow up and behave with decorum.

GLARING CHALLENGES
Nairobi has many glaring challenges that should be the priority for any county government in charge. Top on the list should be the security of the residents. Not a day passes without reading or hearing of violent robberies in the city and its environs.

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But insecurity is not something new in Nairobi. At one time it got so bad that the city was nicknamed ‘Nairobbery”. It is not a flattering name to have but we still are reminded of it wherever we go.

I am not hopeful that insecurity can be tackled in Nairobi when its governance team places priorities over who has the right to travel first class over service delivery.

It seems that it is hell-bent on redefining corruption by introducing an illness that can only be cured by flying first class.

What is the point of travelling then, if one’s illness is so debilitating?

MIRACLES HAPPEN
I am still struggling to understand the plague whose cure is a first-class ticket around the world. As miracles happen, it only seems to afflict the rich and powerful. If there is any justice in the world, we should all catch it.
We now live in a world that is interconnected through information technology. A lot of the benchmarking mania, even to Mombasa, can be reduced by relying on the Internet to solve many alleged ills befalling the city or, indeed, the country.

Ours is a city that lacks compassion and honesty. Compassion that would enable the city county team to learn to walk in the shoes of its residents so that they can understand where there are pressing needs and prioritise them.

One way of doing that is to ensure participation of the public is sought and their ideas implemented. Who would be better placed to give an honest opinion of a neighbourhood than the resident?

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BETTER START
Honesty is discerned through the leadership that provides the services it promised voters; services that even the state official would be proud to use. Having schools and hospitals fit for all would be a better start.

I have never witnessed a greater sense of insensitivity and irony than when Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko goes around public hospitals in the city berating the workers for poor services and corruption, and then turns around and visits one of his county executives in the private Nairobi Hospital.

Why the senior county official was not at Mbagathi Hospital was the question on my mind. Why preach water but drink wine? If Mbagathi is not fit for the county minister, how is it for the rest of us?

Insecurity thrives in an environment with limited opportunities for residents — be it employment, housing, roads, transport, quality schools and hospitals.

The cities that came on top of the liveable cities had scored very highly on provision of key services to the residents.

Insecurity in Nairobi is so bad that even the transport system has become a harbinger of it. Being attacked in a matatu on your way from work has become the norm and it should not be. This demonstrates that one poor service has a knock-on effect on all others.

Leading a city is not to be valued by the number of flashy cars in your entourage, your shiny suit or first-class ticket to nowhere but the quality of your services. Leading through style is recipe for failure and undermines the efforts of hard-working voters.

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If the current “governance by chaos” continues in the city county, it might be worth considering an alternative in a non-political permanent ‘City Management Team’.

Nairobi needs it to prosper. The city county’s politics is neck-deep in pursuit of individual interests and it can’t help it to excel to the list of liveable cities any time soon. It is time for leadership with substance.

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Report on Kemsa calls for thorough shake-up

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By EDITORIAL
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The latest audit report on the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency is alarming. Its drug management system and financial expenditure are horrible.

In the financial year ending June 2017, Kemsa kept in its stores expired medicines worth Sh100 million. It also had more than Sh350 million in unspent cash meant for drugs.

Here are two sets of paradoxes. First, the agency that is responsible for procuring and distributing drugs has no shame keeping expired medicines, the danger notwithstanding. It also knows all too well the perennial drug shortage in the public health facilities.

How, then, could it keep such a consignment in its stores when it should have distributed the drugs to the facilities on time? Where will it take the consignment? And at what cost? This is a complete waste of public resources.

The second paradox is that although it understands that health facilities require drugs, Kemsa does not spend the cash allocated for medicines. How does it organise its work plan? What is the plan for procurements?

This is not the first time we have had such appalling reports on the agency. Not long ago, it had to burn a huge consignment of expired drugs that had been withdrawn from counties and which had cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Something is awfully wrong at Kemsa and the Ministry of Health and the various oversight agencies ought to take a special interest in the goings-on at the agency.

Access to affordable healthcare is predicated on proper planning and coordination. It starts with disease prevention, well-equipped clinics with qualified medical professionals, proper diagnosis of diseases, accurate prescriptions and availability of medicines. Any gap along the chain could be catastrophic.

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We are cognisant of the variables at play. Among these is the inability of counties to buy and pay for drugs from Kemsa due to their perennial financial difficulties.

At one point, the agency even stopped supplying drugs to the counties because they had defaulted in payment for supplies.

But in this day and age, when firms operate modern procurement practices — where just-on-time supply is the norm — why can’t Kemsa organise itself properly to do exactly that to avoid holding unnecessary stocks?

The reason Kemsa was set up was to consolidate the procurement of medical supplies and enable the government to benefit from economies of scale and as well as streamline stock distribution. The principle is valid, but its implementation is proving cumbersome, hence calling to question its continued viability.

This is a sensitive process that must be executed judiciously. Kemsa should review and streamline its processes henceforth.

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