Main Menu

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

 

Woman: We resort to begging since nobody wants to employ a leper

By WINNIE ATIENO
More by this Author

Tanzanian Angelina Muchere, 61, came to Kenya to beg on the streets of Mombasa in the 1990s and her life has been on a roller coaster. 

Once a week, Ms Muchere makes the trip to the coastal city and begs for alms outside a bank in Mwembe Tayari area before returning to the leper colony in Tumbe village.

There are times she sleeps in a godown. On a “good” day, Ms Muchere can make about Sh500.

“Nobody wants to employ a leper. Who would hire someone with crippled hands and legs?” she asks.

Ms Muchere left her three children in Mwanza, Tanzania and crossed the border into Kenya. 

ARRESTED SEVERAL TIMES

“I have been arrested several times by police and county government officers and once spent two months at Shimo La Tewa Prison,” she says.

During the interview with the Nation in Tumbe, the elderly woman said she is happy to have found a leper colony “which I can call home”.

“In this village, I am treated well. The money I get from begging helps me buy food and other necessities. We are like a family here,” she says.  

LEPROSY VICTIMS

Ms Muchere joined other leprosy victims who either abandoned their homes or were sent away by their families.

Those interviewed said they could not stand the stigma and discrimination subjected to them by family members, friends and villagers back home.

“We are shunned due to this crippling disease. Our limbs are either amputated or almost useless. That means finding conventional work is almost an impossibility so we resort to begging,” she says.


Alupe, the forgotten leper camp of Kenya’s social outcasts

By GAITANO PESSA
More by this Author

At Alupe, about eight kilometres from Busia town, Samson Kurgat Kiptalam and Safere Juma sit near an old brick house with rusty iron sheets. This is one of Kenya’s most horrific medical sequesters — and they are not about to leave.

The two are victims of a history that society left behind. Their aging faces, and the scars on their limbs, are sad reminders of decades-long battles with one of the world’s most feared diseases — leprosy. Kiptalam and Juma are the forgotten survivors of one of two known leper colonies in Kenya: Alupe and Kaloleni.

While the other patients were forced to leave, the two — who were treated at Alupe Sub County Hospital in Teso South Constituency — had nowhere to go. Previously, Alupe Leprosy Hospital (as it was then known) housed the Leprosy and Skin Disease Research Centre for East Africa.

The leper colonies were established during colonial times when a policy of mandatory quarantine was effected as the only way to stem the disease, which was falsely considered highly infectious.

MEDICAL PRISONS

Victims were sent to either Alupe or Kaloleni to fend for themselves. Or at worst, to die alone there. Even after Independence in 1963, doctors continued to send lepers into these medical prisons — or what are today called “leper asylums”.

And because of the social stigma, those who didn’t die in the camps were abandoned in these villages, with nowhere else to call home.

Although they have healed, Mr Kiptalam, 63, and Mr Juma, 78, are still confined to Alupe’s remaining segregation camp — almost a decade after the hospital’s management forced out hundreds of residents after demolishing seven dwellings where they used to live.

The story of Mr Kiptalam and Mr Juma is one of pain and joy. They successfully battled a scourge widely dreaded by humankind. Bravery, patience and hope were key.

Leprosy is a bacterial disease that affects the skin, eyes, nose and peripheral nerves. Its patients were quarantined for fear they would infect others.

Patients mainly suffer from patches on the skin, reduced physical sensation, numbness and general weakness.

PRONE TO ULCERS

The bacteria affects both the skin and the nerves, making the victims prone to ulcers, self-caused injuries, and limb loss. Symptoms take as long as 20 years to appear.

If untreated, the disease can lead to disability; but it can be cured with long administration of antibiotics.

Mr Kiptalam is from Nandi County He says he was referred to Alupe by a doctor in 1978 after he developed leprosy symptoms. The doctor gave him Sh150 for the journey to the Busia facility.

“My limbs were becoming numb yet I had no idea why. It is then that I went to a nearby hospital, from where I was sent here. I was received by one Dr Adalla (deceased) and was enrolled for medication immediately,” he recalls.

Mr Kiptalam says he responded well to medication until 1990 when he was discharged. But in 2000 he injured himself on the right ankle and the wound took long to heal.

“This made me return here for a second time. I have since healed but I am on post exposure medication. I can dress the wounds by myself. We have also been told to ensure our skin remains soft and moist all the time,” says Mr Kiptalam during a chilly morning interview.

DEHYDRATION

The patients are advised against working for more than two hours a day, despite their ability to handle simple menial jobs such as cleaning, gardening and shoe making.

“We were told that this is due to dehydration of the body,” says Mr Kiptalam.

Before Mr Juma came here, he used to work at Msabweni Sub-County. Then, in 1957, he started feeling unexplained pain in his legs. He was referred to Alupe in the early 80s, some 23 years after the initial attack by leprosy.

“I felt numb in my right leg, then in the left one, too. I was referred here, where Dr Adalla amputated four toes from both legs. I am okay now, save for occasional pain. We are also having problems with feeding, since we cannot fend for ourselves fully,” he says.

Mr Juma hails from Amukura in Teso South. He says he has been shunned by his family and society for almost four decades. He has two sons, he recalls, one working at the Kenya Ports Authority and the other as a police officer. Six other children died, but he was unable to attend their burial.

“I can’t go home any more. Nobody wants to see me. My land has been sold by my relatives.”

On his part, Mr Kiptalam says his wife ran away with their two sons after discovering that he had leprosy.

WORLD WAR II

Worldwide, leprosy was first recorded in the first century, and almost disappeared from Europe by the 18th century. But a handful of areas in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America were still affected.

Mr Francis Amakoye, a senior occupational therapist at the hospital, says lepers were brought to the facility after World War II.

“The war victims were drawn mainly from East and Central Africa. They were first hosted at the Kakamega-based Public Government Hospital for five years, from 1939,” he says.

“The colonial settlers did not want leper colonies in Central or Rift Valley regions, where they had settled,” said Mr Amakoye, who has been at the facility for 36 years.

In these camps, the patients were not allowed to mix with others. They were contained in one place — the Alupe segregation camp, which sat on land measuring about 800 hectares. In the 50s, survivors were housed in tents before brick houses were built.

“The doctors treating them were mostly from Netherlands. Only these doctors, and a few other people who worked with them, handled the patients,” Mr Amakoye says.

When he first joined the hospital in 1982, he found patients from Sudan, Somalia, Malawi, Tanzania and Rwanda, among other countries. Some of them died and were buried nearby, not far from today’s Alupe Primary School.

INFORMAL SCHOOLS

“They were not allowed to move out of this compound. They had their own market, informal schools and other social amenities,” he recalls.

A breakthrough in the treatment of the disease came in the early 80s, as the hospital celebrated its 30th anniversary, following introduction of a multi-drug therapy that cleared relapse cases. Previous therapies used single drugs.

“This milestone is largely due to the intervention of the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Programme that was headed by the Dutch team. Leprosy, which spreads via nasal fluids, is not highly contagious. It can be treated with a six-month cocktail of drugs,” he says.

But if the nerves are affected and sensation is lost, or physical deformations are observed, patients are advised to take care of the remaining parts of the body. Amref surgeons are occasionally available for reconstruction surgery.

Newer cases from other regions in Kenya are today referred to their home counties, which have competent personnel to handle them. “Health officers and students come here periodically to learn about leprosy,” he says.


Leprosy carries great social stigma, leading to isolation

By JOHN KAMAU
More by this Author

On the streets of major towns, lepers dot obscure corners – their misshapen stumps stretched for all to see. The face of these beggars represents the utter squalor into which hordes of lepers have been thrown, away from the confinement of yesteryears.

As the Nation found out, lepers are scattered all over the country with a forgotten disease – and a lifelong burden of social stigma and great discrimination.

This ancient disease — mentioned in the Bible — causes skin lesions and nerve damage and if untreated, leads to severe disfigurement and disability.

Though it is curable and not as contagious as previously thought, leprosy  survivors have over years become the wretched of the earth.

At best, they have been relegated to the backwaters of society with little or no support.

The disease has long carried great social stigma, which used to relegate  lepers  to the fringes the society. Even those who are cured shoulder a heavy emotional burden and are treated as outcasts.

Initially, and since no permanent treatment was not known then, lepers were taken away from family and friends and isolated in camps.

LEPER COLONY

In Kenya, it began  in the 1930s, when Coast MP William Gilbert Lillywhite and the Reverend G. Burns suggested that the only way to deal with leprosy was to create a leper colony where “people could lead their own lives and earn their own living and get such alleviation as modern science was able to give them.”

As a result, a leper colony was established in Kaloleni, with 36 lepers.

During the colonial times, money was set aside to maintain  the lepers, although it was not enough. In 1937, the colonial secretary remarked in Parliament that if the medical superintendent were  to put up a case for more money. “I will sign the special warrant without any hesitation whatsoever.”

The idea was to segregate the lepers from their families.

Although Kaloleni Hospital, built  by the Church Missionary Society (CMS), had an agreement with the government, through which it would receive £1,000 for maintenance, it would not allow lepers into its wards.

RECEIVE CARE

Rev Burns pleaded with the colonial government to establish a camp for them – in the hope  that they would receive care in isolation. “They are too feeble to see, and my entire desire [is to give them]  comfort … until death relieves them of this awful disease,” said the Rev Burns in 1936 as he pleaded for money.

While the Kaloleni hospital was not part of the leper colony established nearby, the area became something of a home for   lepers. Those who got healed never went back home. In  1973, the local member of Parliament, Kazim Mwamzandi, voiced concern about the high number of  lepers in his constituency.

“I often see lepers without hands or toes working. I understand that they are forced by circumstances to work in order to maintain themselves. Why should the government not spend a lot of money on these unfortunate people so that they do not need to work as is the case now?”

“Our ministry does not force them to work,” said Health Minister  Zachary Onyonka.

Most of them had been left to fend for themselves – or simply turned to begging. In 2005, the government forced the more than 2,000 lepers who had been left at the Alupe leprosy centre, Busia,  to go to their  home areas.

Before the collapse of the East African Community in 1977, Alupe was running the region’s leprosy research centre. The East African Leprosy Research Centre was built in 1955 as a memorial to the late John Lowe, a dedicated worker on leprosy in India, who died  that year. That is how the Ministry of Health started running a Leprosarium at Alupe, with about 300 patients.

OUT-PATIENT TREATMENT

In many of the British colonies, the introduction of sulphone drugs, with which lepers could be offered outpatient treatment, it was decided that leprosy villages be created as an extension of the home care system. But due to the social stigma associated with leprosy, most locals did not want leper colonies established in their neighbourhoods. One of the first villages in Alupe was deliberately burnt down in 1948, and the people in the neighbouring villages refused to help their sick kin  rebuild their devastated homes.

Today, the colonial-era Public Health Act still gives the minister for health powers to establish “leper asylums” for the “detention” of lepers. In fact, the minister can acquire sites to build  such asylums.

“For the purpose of preventing the spread of leprosy, the minister may, by order, direct that, from a date named therein until further order, all persons affected with leprosy found within any local area specified in such order shall be removed to, and detained, in an asylum,” says the Act.

The duty of reporting a person with leprosy falls on secondary individuals: “Whenever it comes to the knowledge of any person that some other person within a specified area outside an asylum is affected with, or is suspected of, being affected with leprosy, such first-named person shall forthwith and report such fact or suspicion upon oath to a magistrate of the district in which he is residing”.

ISOLATION ORDER

The magistrate  then issues an isolation order and if a medical officer ascertains that the person is infected, he is “removed to an asylum”.

A person can also present himself to a magistrate and seek to stay in an asylum and only the minister can lift such an order upon the recommendation of a medical officer.

Leper colonies are solitary asylums: “No communication or intercourse shall be allowed between persons detained in any asylum and any person not detained therein who is not an officer or attendant thereof” said the rules.

Again, lepers were treated as “people in lawful custody” and had no recourse to justice even when they were innocently referred there:  “Any person who escapes from such lawful custody may be pursued, arrested without warrant and taken back into custody by any person whomsoever and wherever he may be found.”

Within the asylum, families were allowed to build houses for the detained lepers and this is what created the villages – where some of the lepers are still found to date. 


Weatherman says next few days will be warm, sunny

By COLLINS OMULO
More by this Author

Several parts of the country will experience warm and dry conditions for the next three days, according to Kenya Meteorological Department.

“A slight improvement in rainfall amounts is, however, likely over parts of the Lake Victoria Basin, highlands of the Rift Valley and the central highlands including Nairobi area,” said Mr Peter Ambenje, the director of the department.

According to the latest five-day weather forecast by the weatherman covering June 1 to 5, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Isiolo counties will experience mainly sunny intervals during the day and partly cloudy skies at night.

SUNNY INTERVALS

The same pattern will  be experienced in the southeastern counties of Kitui, Makueni, Machakos and Taita-Taveta.

The coastal counties of Mombasa, Tana River, Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale  will have sunny intervals throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori will experience mainly sunny intervals in the morning, giving way to showers and thunderstorms in several places in the afternoon.

MORDERATE RAINFALL

The same weather pattern will also be experienced in Kisii, Nyamira, Trans Nzoia, Baringo, UasinGishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi, Laikipia, Nakuru, Narok, Kajiado, Kericho, Bomet, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia.

Turkana, West Pokot and Samburu will have moderate rainfall in a few places on Monday and Tuesday in the morning, with showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. in the last two days.

The central highlands, including Nairobi Nairobi, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Embu, and Tharaka-Nithi counties, will have mostly cloudy mornings, giving way to  sunny afternoons.  


Devolution laws under review, says CS Eugene Wamalwa

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
More by this Author

MPs are reviewing some devolution laws to improve working relations between county and national governments. The move is also aimed at easing the implementation of devolution.

Although the realisation of devolution since 2013 has been largely successful, several gaps have been identified in the current laws, according to Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

Mr Wamalwa said some of the legislation currently under review are the County Government Act, 2012 and the Intergovernmental Relations Act, 2012.

The Nation has learnt that the changes are in line with similar proposals sought by the Council of Governors.

 “We have embarked on amending the existing devolution laws where necessary and enacting regulations to encompass intergovernmental institutions, which have not been elaborately covered by the existing laws,” Mr Wamalwa told participants at the fifth East African Local Government Forum.

COOPERATION

A key plank of these recommendations is to strengthen the role of the Senate, whose primary mandate is to protect interests of counties and their governments.

The Intergovernmental Act establishes a framework for consultation and cooperation between the national and county governments, and amongst the devolved administrations.

Though it has deficiencies in terms of its scope and drafting, it attempts to address systemic disputes which often arise between and among different levels of government, arms of government and other public institutions mandated to serve the people.

It also establishes mechanisms for the resolution of intergovernmental disputes. The CS said his ministry is also developing Alternative Dispute Resolution regulations to guide the solving of disputes that have arisen between the national and county governments or within the counties themselves.

EFFECTIVE SERVICE DELIVERY

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, who is also CoG’s Intergovernmental relations committee chair, said there are still many challenges in the implementation of devolution, which hamper effective service delivery, and they need to be rectified in the law. He cited inadequate funding of counties.

“Strengthening institutional frameworks can accelerate the implementation of devolved governance,” Mr Sang said.

There are other proposals to amend the County Government Act so that deputy governors are assigned particular roles. 

The deputies want to oversee the implementation of development projects as outlined in manifestos they launched with their respective governors.

In the proposed changes, they want to be involved in coordination of departmental functions and staff evaluation in the counties.

Apart from proposing the formation of a council of deputy governors, the Intergovernmental Relations Bill seeks the creation of a council of county assemblies.


NHIF rules out free cover for students who get pregnant

By FAITH NYAMAI
More by this Author

Girls in the public secondary schools who get pregnant will not benefit from the free medical cover.

NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi said the free medical cover for students had not factored in early pregnancies.

“If any of the secondary schoolgirls gets pregnant they will not be covered by the NHIF. Those who will want to be assisted may opt to look for other sources of funding or register with the ‘Linda Mama’ initiative,” Mr Mwangi advised.

INITIATIVE

The Linda Mama initiative is an expanded free maternal care programme for expectant mothers.

Mr Mwangi said the secondary school medical cover recently rolled out by the government was only “designed to take care of in-patient and outpatient illnesses”.

Many teenage girls drop out of school because of early pregnancies.

A United Nations Population Fund report released  last December showed that 378,000 teenage girls aged between 10 and 19 became pregnant between July 2016 and June last year.

8 PER CENT

Narok County had the highest number of teenage pregnancies, accounting for 40 per cent of all the cases countrywide.

Homa Bay County followed with 33 per cent, West Pokot (29), Tana River (28), Nyamira (28) and Samburu (26). Migori and Kwale accounted for 24 per cent each.

Murang’a, Nyeri and Embu counties had the lowest number of teenage pregnancies, with six, seven and eight per cent, respectively.

Among the factors cited for the early pregnancies among the secondary schoolgirls are peer pressure, drug abuse, rape and lack of adequate guidance and counselling on sex.

Other factors include cultural practices, which force girls into early marriage.

The school medical cover is among the government’s ‘Big Four’ agenda.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in April launched the Sh4 billion medical scheme that will see some Sh1,350 paid for each student.

The medical insurance is meant to cover all the three million students in public secondary schools.

The medical cover is expected to cover for both outpatient and in-patient services for the students for the period four years they will be in school.

The students will be treatment of all kinds of diseases including cancer and HIV and Aids.


It’s back to work for city Assembly after recess

By COLLINS OMULO
More by this Author

The Nairobi County Assembly resumes business on Tuesday afternoon after breaking for recess on May 3. Many people will be watching  whether the name of Mr Miguna Miguna will be presented before the House for debate.

Last month Speaker Beatrice Elachi said she will present the letter nominating lawyer Miguna as the next deputy governor before the House for debate, adding that  that she had no reason to object to Governor Mike Sonko’s choice.

Ms Elachi initially objected to Mr Miguna’s  nomination, saying  the letter nominating him was presented to her unprocedurally. She also expressed  concern about the citizenship row over the lawyer’s citizenship.

“I have no authority to reject a nominee Governor Sonko has picked. That is why I will present the letter nominating Miguna to the county assembly so that members can approve or reject it,” said Ms Elachi during a meeting with the members of Nairobi Liaison Committee.

But a source privy to   City Hall affairs told the Nation that the governor has not presented the name of Miguna to the Speaker as  required by law, and that no name will be presented to the Assembly.

“The speaker has not received the letter nominating Miguna and I doubt whether she will receive it before the House resumes, business,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

INTERFERING

Governor Sonko in May nominated lawyer Miguna to replace  Mr Polycarp Igathe, saying the lawyer would help him “dismantle cartels in Nairobi”.  He appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to forgive Dr Miguna “in the spirit of the handshake”.

He said  he has not broken any law by nominating Mr Miguna, adding  that the Constitution empowers him  to nominate a deputy.

During a function at the Jacaranda Grounds in Nairobi last Wednesday, Mr Sonko told the President that his nomination of Miguna is “a slap in the face to national government officials who have been interfering in the county’s affairs”.


Tenants raise questions on development of Ngara estate

By COLLINS OMULO
More by this Author

The  redevelopment of Jeevanjee/Bachelors’ Quarters in Ngara, Nairobi, hangs in the balance following complaints by tenants that they were not consulted.

Led by Mr John Karanja, the chairman of their welfare association, the residents  are questioning  the manner in which the redevelopment plan was carried out by the previous regime, which awarded a tender to Jabavu Village Ltd without involving them.

“There has been no participation as stipulated in Article 10(2) (a) of the Constitution,” Mr Karanja said, adding that only an incomplete consultation was done by City Hall.

Another sticky issue is the  existence of two memoranda of understanding, supposedly   between the county government and the tenants.  One is dated March and and other June, 2016.

Mr Karanja rejected  the MoUs,  asking why they do not have specific dates like other formal communication.

“The county could be having another MoU that it is  hiding from the tenants which it will use to catch them by surprise, and which was not part of the consultation the subject letter is talking about. A dateless MoU, therefore, makes that consultation incomplete,” he said.

COMMITTEES

In a letter written by former Nairobi County Secretary Dr Robert Ayisi, dated December 15, 2016, the tenants are informed that the county intends to improve their houses as part of the county’s plan to provide affordable and modern housing. 

Mr Ayisi said that the county government had held 46 consultative meetings with the tenants and other stakeholders since  February that year, and that the minutes had been shared with the tenants’ different committees.

Jeevanjee is one of the eight estates lined up for redevelopment by Nairobi County.


Corruption: Time country took permanent and decisive action

All our good intentions on economic and social development amount to nothing if every step in the right direction is dealt a resounding blow by corruption. With the country still reeling from a prolonged and polarising election, the looting in critical facets of development only further deepens existing divides and exacerbates poverty levels.

For businesses, the single-most consistent deterrent to investors is the increasing cost of doing business, a huge amount of which is attributed to fraud and malfeasance.

The manufacturing sector’s performance has been on a downward trajectory over the past few years, owing to, among others, high cost of energy, influx of substandard imports and counterfeits, non-tariff barriers and multiple levies and charges, especially at county levels.

GOVERNANCE

Through loopholes in execution of policies and regulations, corruption has found a way to keep these impediments consistent, hampering diffusion of industries around the country. 

The multiplier effect has been huge losses to businesses as the cost burdens keep them unproductive and unprofitable. Consequently, investors become more skeptical and cease from expanding locally as others shift to more lucrative markets with stronger governance structures and institutions.

In addition to the high capital outlay required to start businesses, rent seeking — which has become a culture — has significantly lengthened the time it takes new investors to settle in, let alone break even. This has affected the ability of industry to provide productive employment; no wonder Kenya has the highest unemployment rate in the EAC, at 39.1 per cent.

Counterfeits continue to enter the local market, their networks more sophisticated and elusive, with the assistance and protection of officials.

UNEMPLOYED

The larger problem with counterfeits is that they put at risk the health and well-being of citizens — gas cylinders that explode in homes, expired and unsafe medication and contaminated goods. Subsequently, we have a large portion of the population that is unwell and unemployed, which affects productivity and alienates them from active civic processes.

The government’s ‘Big Four’ agenda identifies four critical pillars of sustainable economic development. However, only a few months into its implementation, each one of the key pillars is plagued by corruption or bears a strong whiff of graft.

The mega corruption revealed at Kenya Power raises serious concerns for the manufacturing sector, which has consistently lamented costly and unreliable electricity. The NCPB maize scandal sets back the food security pillar, highlighting substantial gaps in the food sector. Health and housing have been saddled with graft and embezzlement for the past two years.

PORALISING

Just last month, the auditor-general confirmed the theft of Sh5 billion from Afya House from 2016 and Cotu released a report alleging irregularities in the approval of projects worth more than Sh13 billion. These are just a drop in the ocean. 

Even policies designed to inculcate and institutionalise inclusion have been pervaded by corrupt practices. The 40 per cent local content requirement and 30 per cent procurement set aside for women, youth and the disabled (AGPO) are frequently rife with allegations of nepotism and cronyism that dilute the goal and lock out the targeted marginalised populace. 

Overall, each cycle of breaking news is more disheartening than the last. If we are true to our endeavour to rebuild our country and bring about equality, it is time to take quick, decisive and discernible actions. It is no longer enough to identify the rot; we must root it out by strengthening the institutions rendered vitreous by polarising politics.

Ms Wakiaga is the CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and the UN Global Compact Network Representative for Kenya. [email protected]


Gaming machines owners petition over crackdown

By SAM KIPLAGAT
More by this Author

Gaming machine operators have filed contempt proceedings against county government administrators and the police for defying a court order prohibiting a crackdown on their business.

On Wednesday, the government destroyed close to 1,000 betting machines in Nakuru in a  crackdown on  illegal gambling shops.

But the Counties Amusement and Gaming Society, through Chairman Sammy Kahiu, said the crackdown on genuine businesses was illegal because they have a   court order, obtained in 2016, stopping the crackdown.

He added that they have adhered to all the regulations and are operating legally.

STEAL MONEY

Mr Kahiu said that the gaming industry is self-regulating and has rules that promote responsible gaming. He said the Ministry of Interior and the county governments should focus on unregulated gaming, which is conducted online.

He added that county administrative officers and the police were also taking advantage of the swoops to steal money from the machines, and that some were  selling the slot machines they had confiscated.

The operators had obtained orders stopping the government from harassing or arresting them Mr Kahiu said, but a number of  have been arrested and taken to  court following a directive by Dr Fred Matiang’i.

CONSTITUTIONAL

The order not only directed to the government but also individual police officers and administrative officers from confiscating betting and gaming machines or disrupting the businesses.

In the petition, the operators have argued that the said machines are their main source of employment. They also argue that the County governments regulate and supervise their businesses to ensure that they have no harmful effects to the society.

Mr Kahiu denied the allegation that the said machines are a danger to national security arguing that gambling is constitutional.

In their petition they state that the Betting Act enacted in 1966 cannot apply post 2010 constitution because counties are now empowered to issue licences.

PROPERTY LOSS

The operators argue that under the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution the function of national betting, casinos and other forms of gambling is vested in the national government whilst county governments are vested the functions and powers in respect of cultural activities, public entertainment and public amenities including betting, casinos and other forms of gambling.

The Betting Control and Licensing Board has defended the directive, saying it was within the law.

“In the premises the Betting Act has no application to betting, casinos and other forms of gambling that fall within the jurisdiction of counties pursuant to paragraph 4 of Part 2 of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution,” the petition reads.

They argue that the directive by the betting board had led to loss of property yet they had been duly licensed and regulated by County Governments in the respective areas.

HARMFUL EFFECT

In affidavit, Mary Wanjiru, who operates gaming and betting machines said the machines have been duly registered.

“County governments regulate and supervise our businesses to ensure that they have no harmful effect to society and particularly children who are not allowed to engage in gaming activities. The allegation that our machines are a danger to national security are false and malicious given that the Constitution envisages and provides for gambling,” she argued.

In their response Council of Governors Chief Executive Officer Ms Jacqueline Mogeni asked the court to direct the matter be resolved through the mechanisms established under the Inter-governmental Act.