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October, 2017

 

Kawangware locals pin attacks on bad politics

By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
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Kawangware is angry. So angry in fact that rowdy youths were willing to pelt rocks at a local primary school on Monday with the pupils still in it.

Heartbreaking photos of school children cowering behind police officers and journalists as they tried to escape tear gas and flying stones made the headlines, but the violence following Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s visit to Gatina Primary School only tells part of the story.

The past few days have seen Kawangware, usually peaceful and quiet, break out in sporadic but fierce violence that has threatened to rip it apart along ethno-political lines.

BUSINESS
Ten people have died, and tens of others injured, since the repeat poll last week.

They are the unfortunate victims of clashes between youth groups from both sides of the political divide.

Others have lost what they say is their life’s work to looters.

Mr Samuel Mariga is a man who has lost everything for the second time round.

The 34-year-old businessman watched his grocery shop go up in flames during the 2007/08 post-election violence, and two days ago, his makeshift café at the Kawangware 46 bus stop was raided by rowdy youths and looted.

RIVAL GROUPS

They took everything, including the food cooking on the stoves and the stoves.

Mariga was caught up in the epicentre of the violence that rocked Kawangware on Friday evening, finding himself and his business smack in the middle of two rival groups, both wielding pangas and rungus, with intent to inflict as much damage as possible.

“I could see a mob of young men coming down the road from Waithaka, a predominantly Kikuyu area.

“On the opposite end was men from Kawangware 56, which is mostly inhabited by Luos and Luhyas.

“They clashed right in front of my café, and my workers and I had to flee and hide at a nearby mosque. We were scared for our lives,” he said.

TRIBALISM
Mariga is originally from Vihiga County, but has lived in Kawangware for more than 15 years and has come to love it.

He got married here, and is raising his four children in the bustling neighbourhood, which teems with a cosmopolitan mix of people from all corners of the country.

He knows some of those who looted his café.

“Just before the violence broke out, one of them came up to me and said, ‘Sammy, you have gotten too comfortable here.

“You have stayed here for too long, and this is Kikuyu territory, not Luhya. It’s time to leave.’ But I am not about to go anywhere,” he told the Nation.

POLITICS
In his opinion, the polarised political situation in the country is to blame for the simmering tension in Kawangware, the fires of violence stoked by self-serving politicians and business people, who, he says, have gone beyond just inciting violence, and are now arming the youth with pangas and paying them to wreak havoc in the area.

“I know these boys, they would never pay Sh300 from their own pockets to buy a panga. Someone is arming them,” he said.

Outside of the election cycles, he lives in peaceful coexistence with his neighbours.

He has firm friends among the Kikuyu, his perceived ethnic rivals, and fluently speaks the language.

“We have visited each others’ rural homes in good and bad times. My Kikuyu neighbours have come to Vihiga with me to attend funerals.

“I have been to their homes in central Kenya for weddings. I don’t understand why we must fight,” he said.

In Kawangware 56, predominantly occupied by the Luo and Luhya, Kikuyu business owners and residents are suffering the same fate as Mariga and his ilk, just a few minutes’ drive away.

INVESTMENT
A resident who refused to be named for fear of victimisation said that on the same evening that Mariga’s business was being looted, armed Nasa supporters flooded the streets and went door-to-door in Congo area, targeting businesses and houses owned by Kikuyus, and razing many to the ground.

A two-storey bar owned by a prominent Kikuyu businesswoman was among those targeted, and its charred remains now hide behind a hastily put up iron sheet wall, protecting it from prying eyes.

“I know the owner. She has lost millions as she was unable to salvage anything from the pub.

“She had invested heavily in it; 10 large flat-screen TVs for football fans, a back-up generator and over two million shillings in stock alone.

“They also burned down around 20 rental houses belonging to her, leaving her with no source of income,” the resident said.

PROFILING
Kevin Osiga, a 25-year-old insurance salesman living in Congo, witnessed some of the violence.

“On Friday evening, I saw around 30 youths from 56 arrive at Waiyaki Way supermarket.

“They were armed with rocks but were quickly subdued by the ones guarding the supermarket.

The youths from 56 went back and regrouped and came back in a much bigger mob and were then able to disperse the guards.

They were, however, unable to break into the supermarket and turned their rage instead on nearby shops and houses, looting them before they set them on fire.

“All the targeted property belonged to Kikuyus. I saw grocery shops, a butchery, M-Pesa outlets and residential houses go up in flames. No one was hurt in the fire as people had been warned before-hand to leave,” Osiga added.

VENGEANCE
Unlike Mariga, who is determined to stay, Osiga, who has lived in Kawangware for a year, says he will leave until temperatures cool.

“One of my friends has already left and I will be next. If I stay here I might die,” he said.

A little up the road from Kawangware, on the other side of Naivasha Road in Dagoretti South constituency, lies Kabiria, an area that was thrust in the limelight last year when six teenagers were murdered execution style by police officers in one of the most shocking cases of extra-judicial killings witnessed in recent years.

On Monday, the neighbourhood was smarting from incidences similar to those in Kawangware, after armed men from Waithaka and Ndonyo area raided Kabiria on Sunday night baying for blood in revenge.

POLICE
Locals say some people who had been evicted by their Kikuyu landlord came back and torched the houses, prompting the youths from Waithaka and Ndonyo to respond.

According to residents, the young men were armed with pangas and threatened to conduct a door-to-door search to flush out Luos and Luhyas, who they said were living on their land.

“Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja came and tried to calm them down, asking them to leave but they would not listen.

“They claimed that they too wanted to be armed with pangas as the Luo and Luhya youths had been armed by politicians,” Samuel Mulera, who watched in fear from his house near the road as events unfolded, said.

They only left after police arrived and dispersed them.

“I fear that they will be back and fulfil their promise to flush us out. I live here with my family and I don’t feel safe but I don’t have anywhere else to go. Some of my neighbours have started moving out,” Mulera said.

POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE
All indications point towards communities bitterly divided along ethnic lines, whose rivalries have been sparked by the tribal nature of Kenya’s politics.

Old enmities that were supposed to be buried after the reconciliation efforts that followed the 2007/8 violence have once again reared their ugly heads, driving an even deeper wedge between otherwise peace loving communities who live side by side and conduct business together during less turbulent times.

“The people we reconciled with in 2008 are the same ones attacking us. This country has not healed,” Mariga said.

As Mariga’s experience shows, neighbour is willing to turn against neighbour, if the price is right.

INJUSTICES
The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, established in the wake of the 2007/08 post-election violence, was supposed to be the first step towards national healing, digging up the truth about our historical divisiveness and ushering us into a truly united country.

Its final report, presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, ignited a national conversation on the historical injustices and human rights violations that had distilled into the post-election violence that saw the deaths of more than 1,000 people and displacement of more than 500,000.

The report found that ethnic tension, a prime driver of violence, was a relic of the divide and rule tactics favoured by the British to make their administration of Kenya easier.

This coalesced into magnification of ethnic differences and stereotypes, uneven distribution of resources, thus creating inequalities among different regions, exclusionary land distribution policies, among others.

The feeling after the release of the report was that the country was finally taking a good hard look at its past and was building a future that included everyone, ensuring that never again would Kenya burn.

One of the commission’s primary recommendations was that “alleged perpetrators of ethnic incitement and violence be investigated and prosecuted accordingly, notwithstanding their official or other status”.

HATE SPEECH
Four years later, however, politicians are still spewing hate-filled remarks during political rallies with little consequence, exposing the National Cohesion and Integrity Commission (NCIC), the body charged with ensuring peaceful coexistence and integrity, for the toothless dog that it is.

Kenya imposes a million shillings fine or a jail term of three years on hate mongers, but nearly 10 years after the NCIC came into being, not one politician has been convicted of hate speech.

What Kenyans have been witness to is perennial hate mongers from both sides of the political divide becoming some sort of celebrities; they create a media frenzy every time they are charged in court over the crime, after which they are given newspaper inches to recount their nights in prison cells following arrests for hate speech.

POLITICIANS
Meanwhile, their utterances stoke simmering fires in political hotspots, leading to the outbreak of violence in traditionally volatile places such as Kawangware and other informal settlements in Nairobi.

Conflicting narratives abound about what exactly has brought trouble to Kawangware.

Many residents have blamed local politicians for the violence, saying that they have been meeting youths at night and arming them, and although police have remained mum about their investigations, local media have reported that police are pursuing the politicians as a possible lead.

MPs
Efforts to reach MPs Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) were unsuccessful.

Gatina Member of County Assembly David Ayoyo, however, is adamant that outside forces are responsible for the turmoil in his constituency.

“My people have told me that it is armed youth from Waithaka and Ndonyo in Dagoretti South raiding Kawangware and causing chaos.

“If these were retaliatory attacks as some are saying, all of Kawangware would have burned, as it is a largely cosmopolitan area attracting people from all corners of the country,” he said.


Agony surrounds kin in search for air crash victims

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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By ERIC MATARA
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For the last 10 days now, distressed families of victims of an helicopter crash in Lake Nakuru gather every day on the shores.

Their only wish is to receive news that the three bodies of their loved ones have been retrieved.

Each time the divers’ boats come ashore, the devastated family members hold their breath, hoping for “good” news of the recovery of a body.

DIVERS
Since the accident occurred on October 21, the families have gone through anguish as search teams comprising 40 divers comb the lake in a bid to retrieve the missing bodies and the aircraft wreckage.

The three bodies are believed to be trapped in the wreckage of the main body of the helicopter, which is yet to be located.

One wonders why the search teams, said to consist of highly trained divers, is yet to find the remaining bodies or even locate the main body of the aircraft.

BURIAL
The campaign helicopter was carrying five people.

They were the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa; Ms Veronicah Muthoni; and three members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communications team — Mr Sam Gitau, Mr John Mapozi and Mr Anthony Kipyegon.

The bodies of Mr Malowa and Mr Kipyegon were retrieved on Monday last week and the burial is set for this weekend.

On the day the accident occurred, the helicopter was to ferry a group of journalists to Narok for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign rally.

CHALLENGES
The recovery mission has proved difficult, even after the divers received reinforcements from the Mining ministry at the weekend.

National Disaster Management Unit deputy director and communications officer Pius Masai said poor visibility due to dirty water, heavy rains in the area, heavy silt and mud in the lake, a wide search area and the presence of wild animals are among the factors that have hindered the operation.

“We have eight search teams with boats. With the reinforcement from the Mining ministry, we hope we will retrieve the remaining bodies and the helicopter wreckage despite the challenges. We are pushing through,” Mr Masai said.

RESCUE TEAM
The recovery operation involves personnel from both the national and county governments.

It involves Kenya Navy divers, the Bomet County Government Disaster Management Unit, the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Red Cross Society divers.

Others are Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s Rescue Team divers, Lake Naivasha divers, the local community and relatives of the victims.


The small fish that sustains life of Nile Perch

By ELIZABETH OJINA     
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Researchers are warning that the over-exploitation of a small type of fish locally known as Fulu threatens the population of the Nile Perch in Lake Victoria.

The new report cautions that fishermen should avoid harvesting Fulu because it is the main prey for Nile Perch, and which essentially helps to sustain their population in the lake.

Fulu are smaller fish grouped scientifically as haplochromines (or haps) and are commonly found in most fresh water bodies in East Africa.

WATER POLLUTION
The study, titled “Prediction of Lake Victoria’s response to varied fishing regimes using the Atlantis ecosystem model” conducted by Uganda’s National Fisheries Research Institute, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and the Marine Research Institute of Iceland, found that protecting the Fulu species will lead to an increase in the Nile Perch species, while at same time reducing water pollution in the lake.

Kisumu’s KMFRI director of inland fishing and limnology Chrispine Nyamweya said the Fulu species feed on the algae in the lake.

“The lake water has a high infestation of algae; the Fulu (haplochromines) feed on the algae therefore improving the water quality,” Dr Nyamweya said.

“With the introduction of the Nile Perch species in the lake in the 1980s to reduce the population of the Fulu, the lake started turning green because of the algae.”

POPULATION
He said if the government places a ban on the harvest of the Fulu species, this will provide enough feed for the Nile Perch, which has a high commercial demand.

“What helps is reducing fishing pressure on the prey species for Nile Perch.

“When we stop fishing them, then we have more Nile Perch in the lake because they have enough to feed on,” he said.

Fishing has continually increased since the Nile Perch boom in the 1980s, resulting in decline of the fish stocks.

Using Atlantis ecosystem model, the study said the Nile Perch population cannot be sustained without protection of the Fulu.

“Reducing the pressure on fishing Nile Perch does not help so much. The biomass will double up but shortly after they will collapse to exhaustion,” the study shows.


Good politics is the solution to protests hurting economy

By JAINDI KISERO
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So, what lessons and trends have we learned and observed from the just-concluded electioneering period?

Indeed, many fundamental changes are happening quietly in this society under our very noses, but whose impact on society remains hidden to us until they reveal themselves in a bang, especially during periods of intense conflict and political competition.

Personally, I am worried about the extent our capital city — Nairobi — is becoming increasingly fragile and vulnerable to street protests and demonstrations.

We are at a point where any mere mention of a planned protest rally or street demonstration inevitably sends the capital into a state of panic and paralysis.

Kepsa, the private sector lobby, has estimated that the economy lost a whopping Sh700 billion during the period of political instability, reflecting the damage by political demonstrations to business and the economy, in general.

We always knew that the phenomenal growth of informal sector settlements was a growing time bomb in terms of security of the city.

But recent events point to a worsening situation in terms of the ability of slum settlements such as Kawangware, Kibra, and Mathare to push us to the political cliff edge.

BUSINESSES

Indeed, recent confrontations between the police and the marauding youths in Kawangware and Kibra have demonstrated just how ill-equipped the police are when it comes to insulating the business community from the effects of political riots and demonstrations.

But what I found even more scary was the stubbornness which the youthful protesters exhibited as they staged run-ins and street battles with riot police.

I made a mental note that we are lucky that these slum dwellers still fight the police with stones and slings.

In ethnically divided Kenya, informal settlements in the capital city take a tribal pattern, with the result that each slum will be dominated by one of the major groups.

The upshot is a situation where each of the slums is aligned with one of the major political parties involved in the fight for power at the national level.
PROTESTERS
Thus, slums and informal settlements have grown into a potent factor in the politics of street demonstrations.

It is why any street demonstrations and protests called in Nairobi by the elite of the major parties inevitably attract large crowds.

How do we, in the long run, protect business in Nairobi from the effects of bad politics and frequent street demonstrations? Good politics. Period.

If we are to bring political temperatures down, exorcise the grievances over the presidential elections, and provide space for healing, there will have to emerge — from both sides of the political divide — leaders who avoid inflammatory speeches, can restrain their ethnic followers and are willing to make compromises with their adversaries.

And, just how long will it take the economy to bounce back from the impact of the electioneering period? We can only wait to see.

JOBS
Ours is a chronically weak economy that has often succeeded in posting high growth, but struggles to meet most of the demands of the ordinary citizen.

Our economy’s biggest weakness is its inability to provide decent jobs for citizens.

More than ever before, many Kenyans are having to put up with low-paying, low quality jobs.

There are several other trends I find worrisome. We have done very well in terms of jerking up infrastructure spending.

But is has come with a massive jump in debt service obligations.

REVENUE
Our wage bill is worrying, and one waits to see the time when government spending will shift in a major way from consumption towards wealth creation.

The number of profit warning issues by listed companies is up and tax collections by the Kenya Revenue Authority are all on a downward trend.

Yet another sign of bad times in the economy is a drop in take-up of credit by the private sector.

The numbers from published audited accounts of commercial banks show that too many of our small banks are in distress, facing crippling liquidity problems and tottering towards insolvency.

Worse, the government itself is in the middle of a public expenditure crisis evident in the adjustments and reallocations it made in the recent supplementary budget.

In the coming months, the government will itself have no option other than to seek some fast-disbursing support from institutions such as the World Bank’s IDA, to enable it to swap expensive syndicated foreign and domestic debt for concessional debt.

This country needs political stability like never before.


Critical issues arising out of elections need to be addressed

By DEMAS KIPRONO
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On Monday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected for a second time.

This followed the October 26 fresh presidential election that was necessitated by the Supreme Court nullification of the August 8 poll over “rampant illegalities and irregularities”.

This time around, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, withdrew from the poll and urged their supporters to stay away, saying the poll would be a sham.

Mr Kenyatta won with a 98 per cent margin among the nearly 7.5 million votes out of a possible 20 million votes.

RULE OF LAW
The elections have exposed the country’s seedy underbelly with regard to national cohesion, the use of force in public order management and the role and independence of constitutional commissions and independent offices.

There have also been discussions about whether or not the rule of law, human rights and equality before the law even exist.

Over the past 14 days, several protesters have been shot dead, a commissioner with the IEBC fled the country, the chairperson publicly expressed doubt about holding a credible poll, a bodyguard of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu was shot in her official car two days before the poll, and the Supreme Court botched the hearing of a petition against the repeat election due to lack of quorum.

CLASHES
On October 26, the poll was held but with a historic low voter turnout; and police battled protesters in Nasa strongholds of Nyanza, western Kenya, Nairobi and Machakos.

The IEBC then cancelled elections in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya counties.

But IEBC flip flopped on the voter turnout; a Jubilee MP was caught on video harassing a returning officer in Kandara, Murang’a County; and, clashes reminiscent of the 2007-08 post-election violence were reported in Nairobi’s Kawangware slums.

In William Shakespeare’s play titled, Hamlet, a palace guard who was angered by mismanagement of the country’s body politic famously uttered the following words:

“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark… it is festering with moral and political corruption.”

Perhaps it is time Kenyans realised that there is something rotten in the State and demanded it be fixed before it is too late.

The scale and pattern of violence, and the feeling of exclusion by a section of society, should not be ignored.

The use of excessive force, killing of protesters and the ethnic-based violence in Kawangware are all wrong and must be condemned and efforts made to arrest and prosecute the culprits.

In the words of Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

INSTITUTIONS
After the 2007-08 post-election violence, millions of shillings were spent collecting testimonies and views of citizens and experts and reports compiled.

These are the Kriegler Report on elections, the Waki Report on election violence, the Ransley Report on police reform and the TJRC Report, which highlighted historical injustices, the conduct of elections, policing, distribution of resources, ethnic equality and justice, and impunity and corruption.

As a result, key institutions, including Ipoa, NPS, NPSC, EACC, IEBC and NCIC were set up to monitor and address these issues.

Which begs the question: Have they done so?

ELECTIONS
A glance at social media reveals that Kenyans harbour ethnic hate and prejudices.

We have not addressed the root causes of divisions because there is no political will to do so.

Kenyans, including leaders, must understand that elections are not the only ingredient in a democracy.

Free and fair elections stand side by side with active participation of the people in politics and civic life; the protection of human rights; and, the rule of law, which applies equally to all the citizens.

Mr Kiprono is a senior legal officer, Article 19 Eastern Africa. [email protected] Twitter: @kipdemas Website: www.demasvox.com


In defence of a misunderstood profession

By JANE GITAU
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When Nasa leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the October 26 rerun presidential election, he accused the IEBC of a litany of evils that he summarised as follows:

“It has wasted valuable time engaging in public relations exercises intended to create the illusion of motion without any movement.”

By so doing, Mr Odinga joined a host of politicians, particularly, from the opposition, who have consistently accused the government of engaging in “meaningless public relations exercises”.

MISCONCEPTION
But every time they say so, they irk the thousands of fellow Kenyans who claim public relations as a profession.

Unfortunately, politicians are not alone in this mistaken view of the profession.

For many outside the public relations industry, their perception of PR professionals is that of people who plan parties, coerce journalists, and lie for a living.

The alternative title is ‘spin doctors’.

MANAGEMENT

Indeed, there are professionals who — for fear of being branded flimsy — choose titles with the word ‘communications’, which is deemed more serious.

Public relations people recognise that theirs is a “…management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and the publics on whom its success or failure depends”.

The key words here are management function because every organisation has relationships that must be strategically addressed.

This means identifying those relationships and what their interests might be so that they can be nurtured to build and maintain the mutually beneficial relationships.

PUBLIC IMAGE

There is a price to pay for this. Successfully managing the relationships leads to success while the opposite is also true.

The office of the public relations officer (PRO) needs to be an extension of the office of the top-most person in the organisation — the one who drives perceptions and thought processes about it.

The PRO serves as the “intelligence service” of an organisation, picking up the criticism and concerns.

She/he works to correct errors and misperceptions about the organisation and drives the message about what the organisation is doing.

From government offices, to state corporations, private sector and non-governmental organisations, a public relations person will be found.

In the institutions of higher learning from diploma to doctoral level, public relations is now a taught and research subject.

Speaking on behalf of the organisation, creating communication collateral products such as audio and visual materials, training, fundraising, reputation management, campaigns (including behaviour change), and organising events are some of the functions.

The work titles vary from plan public relations officer, communications officer, campaign communications coordinator, manager of internal (or) external relations, PR & awareness officer, chief of protocol, director of communication, community liaison officer, advocacy & publicity, head of corporate affairs, to corporate communications officer.

BEHAVIOUR CHANGE
Philanthropist Bill Gates, the co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, says: “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!”

At their annual summit from November 15 to 17, Kenyan PR practitioners will be focusing on the subject of behaviour change communications as part of their efforts towards building professional capacity.

I would be most honoured to have Mr Odinga join us as we discuss the place and practice of public relations in Kenya.

Ms Gitau, a communications consultant, is the chair, Public Relations Society of Kenya and secretary-general of the African Public Relations Association (APRA). [email protected]


What KQ needs to be profitable again

By JAMES KARIUKI
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When Polish national Sebastian Mikosz was appointed the chief executive officer of the national carrier, Kenya Airways, there were mixed reactions from stakeholders.

However, there was a sense of optimism that the new management would turn the airline around from its financial headwinds.

Since Mr Mikosz replaced Mr Mbuvi Ngunze as the managing director on June 1, he has continued with the same austerity measures that had been put in place.

The airline has been downsizing – selling some aircraft and leasing others.

RESTRUCTURE

This has led to its fleet shrinking by about 30 per cent.

The number of employees has also been reduced, and about 100 more are to be laid off.

However, the airline needs to go further and be bolder in its restructuring.

Some functions can be merged to have a lean and efficient team.

For instance, the positions of chief operating officer and ground services director can be collapsed into one as they perform almost similar roles.

The board also needs an urgent overhaul.

As the airline continues to cut excess fat, the board remains intact with two levels of executive and non-executive members.

The two sets are drawing massive allowances from an airline steeped in debt.

These are the unjustified costs KQ needs to shed on the track to profitability.

There are other critical areas that Mr Mikosz needs to address, one of which is building a band of loyal local customers.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Aviation experts agree that for an airline to be profitable, local clients must form a critical part of its volume of passengers.

Kenyans who fly frequently are mostly traders management should pay special attention to. 

China Traders Group, which I chair, comprises traders who fly for business between Kenya and China.

We had a number of meetings with the previous leadership with a view to making KQ our preferred airline.

We reached mutually beneficial agreements, especially on the Nairobi-Guangzhou route. 

Ever since, we make a sizeable number of the travellers in the 400-seater Boeing 777 plying the route. 

Our group had also engaged the previous leadership on ticket prices and got a favourable response.

Realising how crucial traders are in the airline’s profitability, our group was allocated a shop on Accra Road, Nairobi.

There was also an account manager handling traders’ needs. 

Unfortunately, Mr Mikosz closed down the shop as soon as he was appointed.

This move risks alienating the traders and driving them to rival airlines.

COSTLY TICKETS
Compared with its competition, KQ’s fares are higher.

Expensive tickets, especially for those flying from Nairobi to various destinations, have long been the bane of KQ’s takeoff. 

For example, a ticket from Johannesburg through JKIA to Guangzhou costs $650 (Sh67,470) whereas the fare from Nairobi is $800. 

Why the glaring discrepancy? Such are the primary reasons KQ has been losing ground to foreign carriers.

FOREIGNERS
We also need to question the wisdom of flooding the airline with foreign managers.

While what matters now is putting the airline back on the profitability runway, we should not also appear like we do not appreciate local talent.

The MD brought five new managers from Poland. We now have 10 foreign directors and managers.

There should be a blend in the top management to show that this is our national carrier.

We have an influx of foreign managers at a time when the government stake has increased to 46 per cent.

We have reduced KLM’s shares to a paltry 13 per cent. 

Thus, KQ is largely Kenyan in ownership and the top leadership should reflect that.

Kenyan banks, too, have pumped in money and are believed to be owning the lion’s share of the majority stake held by Kenyan entities.

While we agree that local managers have partly contributed to the KQ mess, we should not lose sight of the fact that there are some talented Kenyans who can do an excellent job to help to help turn around the airline. 

There are challenges that come with foreign managers.

First they have to grapple with culture shock and it may take time to adjust and perform optimally.

Chairman Michael Joseph, who had an illustrious tenure as the CEO of mobile phone company Safaricom, once said that “Kenyans have peculiar calling habits”.

Kenyans have peculiar flying habits, too, that should be understood by service providers and airline managers.


Lecturers to begin third strike over salaries

By OUMA WANZALA
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Learning at public universities is set to be paralysed from Wednesday due to a lecturers’ strike.

The job boycott will be the third one to happen this year in an academic year that has also been disrupted by two presidential elections.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) secretary-general Constantine Wasonga asked all lecturers at the 31 public universities not to turn up for duty until the government addresses their demands.

“There is no turning back unless the government implements the new rates for both basic salary and house allowance. It is time to strike, strike and strike,” Dr Wasonga said.

STRIKE NOTICE
He maintained that the only language “this government understands is strike”.

“I, therefore, urge all chapter secretaries and union leaders from all Uasu chapters to rally their members behind the strike and ensure it is launched in all chapters so that we can redeem the worth of dons,” he said.

He announced that the strike will be launched at the University of Nairobi grounds on Wednesday at 8am after the expiry of a 21-day notice that was issued in October.

FUNDS
Universities said they had not received communication from the Ministry of Education over the funds.

Inter-Public University Councils Consultative Forum chairman Paul Kanyari said universities are still waiting for the money from the government.

“We request enduring industrial harmony so that any attendant matters can be resolved expeditiously and to the benefit of all stakeholders without prejudicing the amenity currently being experienced,” Prof Kanyari said.

He said the failure in implementing the new salary scales is due to a financial shortfall being experienced.

The government released Sh10 billion for the payment of arrears in June but reverted to the old salaries after the cash ran out.


Trans Nzoia on alert over suspected Marburg virus case

By GERALD BWISA
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Health officials in Trans Nzoia County have issued an alert of a suspected Marburg virus case in the region.

This comes after a Ugandan citizen suspected to have contracted the Ebola-like Marburg fever visited a herbalist, Ms Fridah Etyang’, at Bwayi village, Kaisagat location, in Kwanza Constituency, to seek medication.

The herbalist is suspected to have been infected with the virus and is under medical observation.

PANIC
Health officials told the Nation that samples have been taken to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) for testing.

“This is not Ebola but we suspect Marburg, which has symptoms like Ebola,” county director of preventive and promotive health services Gilbert Sowon said.

Mr Sowon asked Kenyans to be calm as the samples were being examined by Kemri scientists to ascertain the nature of the disease.

QUARANTINE
According to the Kitale County Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr Emmanuel Wanjala, the case was the first to occur in Trans Nzoia, saying it was being treated as a special case as efforts to mobilise the community continue.

“Already a quarantine has been enforced in the affected area and mobilisation in the community is ongoing,” he said.

Kenya has not previously experienced any Ebola case, though three cases of suspected Marburg fever were recorded around Mt Elgon
region.


Ministry urges tea workers to end strike

By STELLA CHERONO
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The Labour Ministry has asked the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers’ Union (KPAWU) to call off their strike, even as acrimony between the over 40,000 tea plantation employees and employers persists.

The ministry reminded the union that the court had declared the strike, which started on October 17, illegal.

“The court ordered the workers to return to work, and to forward the dispute to the Commissioner of Labour for conciliation,” senior deputy labour commissioner Isaiah Kirigua said.

Negotiations held over the past two weeks between the union and Kenya Tea Growers’ Association (KTGA) have not been successful, with the former demanding that the 2014/2015 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) be implemented.

The union also wants KTGA to start negotiations for the 2016/2017 CBA.