Main Menu

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

 

Ship with sugar yet to offload 10 months on

By MOHAMED AHMED
More by this Author

A ship carrying 40,000 tonnes of sugar is yet offload, 10 months after it docked at the Port of Mombasa.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) said the ship docked in August last year.

KPA General Manager and harbour master Captain William Ruto said the ship was denied approval to offload the cargo. The details emerged following last week’s revelations that a ship bringing 10,000 tonnes of Morocco fertiliser to Mombasa fled to the high seas to avoid the cargo being tested before it was offloaded.

The government said it would pursue the vessel using Interpol to make sure it does not offload the cargo anywhere.

LOST SH150 MILLION

Meanwhile, the government could have lost Sh50 million last month after KPA transferred handling of export of iron ore to a private company under unclear circumstances.

KPA, which is in charge of loading and offloading of consignments getting in and out of the country, allowed a logistic company to handle 56,000 tonnes of iron ore that was transported from Taita Taveta.

The iron ore was packed into a ship that came from Far East and arrived in the country on June 20.

BRINGING MINERALS

Sources at the Mombasa port revealed that the ship had earlier indicated that it was bringing the minerals as the country sometimes imports iron ore, only for it to be loaded with it.

“We were shocked to see that the information we were given was different from the one we received as the ship had come to export the minerals,” said a source.

An official of a company which used to deal with the transportation of iron ore told Nation the ship was still being loaded with the minerals. Persistent wrangles over ownership of the iron ore mining field had led to loss of income to the community, the county and national government’s revenues.


Cyrus Jirongo wants Nairobi County compelled to pay him Sh250m

By ABIUD OCHIENG
More by this Author

Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo wants a court to compel Nairobi County government settle his Sh250 million debt.

Through his company, Kuza Farm and Allied Limited, Mr Jirongo says the devolved government declined to pay the debt despite committing to do so.

Mr Jirongo says the devolved government allocated his land to third parties in 2008.

The National Land Commission has confirmed that Mr Jirongo is the owner of the parcel.

Mr Jirongo says Nairobi County sought an opinion from the Attorney-General and was informed that the land belongs to him.

CONSENT JUDGMENT

“The parties appeared at the High Court on July 28, 2016…and a negotiated consent judgment was entered,” Mr Jirongo adds.

The express terms of the consent judgment were that the Governor, Nairobi County and the county Finance executive were to pay him the amount within 50 days, “which ought to have been September 15, 2016”.

“I have been to City Hall more than 50 times but have constantly been told to wait as the devolved government is experiencing financial challenges,” Mr Jirongo says.

In October, the High Court directed Mr Jirongo to pay Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli Sh110 million he owes him.

Mr Jirongo asked Mr Atwoli to wait until the Nairobi County government settles his debt, but the plea. He was again declared bankrupt by a court for failing to pay a Sh700 million debt to Mr Sammy Boit arap Kogo.

Mr Jirongo contested the repeat presidential election on October 26, 2017 when the order was temporarily lifted.

The case against the Nairobi County government will be mentioned on October 2.


Years of sacrifice, commitment to profession made teacher star

By OSCAR KAKAI
More by this Author

For Mr Elijah Ogoti Ongarora, being named the 2018 Teacher of the Year was the best reward to his efforts in ensuring his students perform to their best.

Mr Ongarora, a teacher at Tartar Girls in West Pokot County, emerged top among thousands of teachers and was feted during an annual teachers meeting held in Mombasa last week.

On Monday, the teacher of History and Kiswahili received a hero’s welcome at the school from colleagues, parents and students.

They sang, danced and showered him with praise for emerging the best and putting the school in the limelight.

The celebrations extended to the nearby Makutano town with business coming to a standstill temporarily. “I never thought that one day I would become the best teacher and be mentioned by everyone in the country,” said Mr Ongarora on Monday.

Born 44 years ago in Masobo village, Nyaribari Masaba constituency in Kisii County, Mr Ogoti has been teaching in various schools for the past 20 years. Over the years, he said, he has equipped students with the skills they need to become the best.

“This win came with a lot of sacrifices in terms of time, material and team work. I attended class, I marked students’ work, I did everything that pertained to my profession and I trusted in God to guide me in doing what is best for my students,” he said.

The University of Nairobi graduate was first posted to St Brigid’s Girls in the neighbouring Trans Nzoia where he taught for 14 years.

He said he has never turned his back on a student who sought his help. “I give my learners priority. I am passionate about teaching and I am very committed to it,” said Mr Ongarora who had always dreamt of becoming a teacher.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam, and is a senior teacher at the school’s humanities department.

AUDIO LESSONS

To help students understand subjects better, Mr Ongarora said he always carries audio lessons to every class to complement what he teaches.

Technology has also contributed to his achievements as he always interacts with his students on Gmail even when they are on holiday. He also ensures his teaching notes are both in hard and soft copy, making them accessible to students.

“I have saved all teaching/ learning materials online in my class Gmail account. Students access the account for materials that range from short summarised notes, guidebooks, and question and answer assignments in the subjects I teach,” he said.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

To hone his skills, Mr Ongarora has enrolled in various short professional development courses. “My father was a good teacher and I have always wanted to be like him,” he added.

In the last two Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, his classes have scored a mean score of B+ in both subjects.

The school’s deputy principal Ruth Omayo praised Mr Ongarora, saying he is dedicated to his profession.

“I have known him for one-and-a-half years. He has uplifted the school’s performance,” she said.

West Pokot Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary Martin Sembelo said Mr Ongarora is a unique teacher. “We are proud of him,” he said.


Blow for Joho in bid to to relocate Kibarani dumpsite to Mwakirunge

By WINNIE ATIENO
More by this Author

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has opposed plans by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to relocate Kibarani dumpsite to Mwakirunge, which is on a flight path.

KCAA’s Director-General Gilbert Kibe said Mwakirunge site, which is about 20 kilometres from Mombasa town, has a navigation aid that planes use when approaching to land at Moi International Airport.

Kibarani, which is the largest and oldest dumpsite in the tourism city ,is an eyesore for both tourists and residents. The dumpsite is located along Mombasa-Nairobi highway. Its closure has been delayed due to rains as the devolved unit seeks an alternative site for dumping garbage.

KCAA said Mwakirunge dumpsite interferes with aviation procedures. “KCAA does not support the dumpsite relocation to Mwakirunge as the site has a navigation aid that planes fly over low on final approach to land at Moi International Airport,” Mr Kibe told Nation.

RELOCATE DUMPSITE

However, Mombasa Environment Executive Godffrey Nato said the county will relocate the dumpsite to Mwakirunge as per the governor’s orders issued in April.

Mr Joho had ordered his officials to shut down the dumpsite and relocate it to Mwakirunge by last month. Kibarani is set to be turned into a recreational park.

The devolved unit has now found itself in a dilemma due KCAA’s opposition on the relocation.

The authority had earlier said the dumpsite should be 13km away from flight path, but Mwakirunge is 12.9km away, meaning 100 metres is within the flight path.

Mr Kibe noted that take-off and landing is always dangerous because of birds that scavenge at the dumpsite.

In May, a plane belonging to German leisure airline Condor made an emergency landing at the Mombasa airport after two crows flew into one of the plane’s engines. The plane was taking tourists to Zanzibar. Cases of bird strikes are increasingly being cited as the cause of emergency landings at the Mombasa airport.

The county government had allocated Sh30 million to fight the birds, but the plans were dropped due to uproar from residents.

ALTERNATIVE SITES

The airport’s Manager Walter Agong and National Environment Management Authority County Director Stephen Wambua had also raised concern over the relocation.

But Deputy Governor William Kingi told Nation the county government is looking for alternative sites to dump garbage.

“We are not keen on Mwakirunge. It is just temporary. But we are in talks with a partner to help us in designing three quarries to accommodate garbage without causing environmental concerns,” he said.


Clear county budget hitches

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

It is quite disappointing that some county assemblies failed to pass their budgets by the approved June 30 deadline.

Considering that the 2017/2018 financial year has lapsed, it means that those county governments will have no basis on which to carry out their operations and authorise expenditure in the new financial year.

Whatever the shortcomings or differences, this is inexcusable. In fact, it is an indictment of the concerned members of the county assembly.

The MCAs have failed in one of their core duties. Without budgets, absolutely nothing substantive can go on.

Their other key role is to debate and pass laws. As grassroots leaders, a lot is expected of the ward reps.

OVERSIGHT ROLE

After scrutinising and passing the budgets, the MCAs then assume the oversight role to ensure that the allocations to the various sectors are put to the use for which they were intended.

The people in the affected counties will feel terribly let down by their leaders, who were expected to work within the clearly defined timeframes to deliver budgets that make a difference in their lives.

It’s a big shame that some of the leaders elected to articulate and fight for their people’s interests tend to be more obsessed with pursuing personal gain.

Sadly, in many of the counties, budget making is turned into a session for extortion with some shameless MCAs holding governors to ransom.

VETTING PROPOSALS

In one county, the MCAs reportedly demanded to be paid Sh1.5 billion to do the job for which they were elected. This is not only unacceptable; it’s also illegal and beneath the dignity of an elected leader.

Granted, some governors are not blameless. But this is precisely why we have the MCAs vetting the proposals in the annual financial statements to ensure that they reflect the needs of the people.

The hitches must be cleared so that the budgets are passed immediately.


Address the emerging student unrest trend

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

The emerging cases of student unrest should jolt schools and security authorities into action to forestall a national crisis.

A few cases have been reported in the past few days and, from experience, they may trigger a copy-cat reaction and throw the education sector into disarray.

On Monday, two cases were reported — at Chalbi Boys High School in Marsabit and Kisumu Girls.

The Chalbi incident was quite frightening as students descended on teachers, beating six of them and leaving one in critical condition.

Worse, they targeted non-local teachers, a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. That points to entrenched ethnic profiling and, coming at a time when the Teachers Service Commission is delocalising tutors, it negates the broader government objective of promoting diversity in the service.

ACADEMIC PRESSURE

Student unrest is always rampant in second term, the longest in the academic calendar, and is linked to academic pressure, especially among candidates reading for mock exams and who, overwhelmed for lack of proper preparation, resort to strikes at the slightest provocation in a bid to ease pressure.

Even then, several factors account for school strikes, among them high-handedness by teachers and poor management.

Further, students easily rebel when they are denied essential provisions such as adequate and quality food.

Extraneous factors such as incitement by outsiders and breakdown of law and order in society also influence students negatively and push them to unruly behaviour.

The strikes are a reason to review school management practices. In this time and age, the emphasis is dialogue and openness with school administrators being socialised to apply democratic principles and create platforms through which students regularly express themselves and, in that way, avert disruptive behaviour.

This does not, in any way, mean compromising discipline — and not where students have the audacity to attack and hurt their teachers. Such are acts of hooliganism that must be dealt with squarely. In fact, students engaged in such acts must be seized and charged with a criminal offence.

Comparatively, the situation has not been as grave as previous years but that is no reason for those concerned to sit on their laurels.

FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS

School principals and management teams must stay alert at all times. They have to be circumspect and discerning.

It is not lost on us that schools are going through financial hardships because of low fee collections and inadequate subventions from the government, causing them to cut costs to survive. In turn, such may affect provisions to students and occasion dissatisfaction.

Whatever the case, schools must institute tough measures to curb strikes and ensure smooth learning.


Interest rate cap repeal can free credit market

By HABIL OLAKA
More by this Author

Over the past two years, the introduction of price controls on bank loans and deposits has dominated discourse with a groundswell of public interest on the matter. Recently, the National Treasury’s 2018 Finance Bill has called for a repeal of the ‘rate caps’.

The Banking (Amendment) Act 2016 was motivated by the need to increase credit uptake, particularly for micro and small enterprises and households.

It also sought to promote a savings culture through interest rate regulation — a radical shift from the conventional principles of market-driven dynamics.

Stakeholders — including Kenya Bankers Association (the most fervent defender of market liberalisation), Central Bank of Kenya, World Bank and International Monetary Fund — have conducted studies to establish the import of the legislation.

Market analysts such as the Institute of Economic Affairs and Cytonn Investments also raised a ‘red card’.

TIGHT CONDITIONS

All the surveys revealed that the law is not achieving the intended objective but instead precipitated tight conditions of lending, occasioning a two per cent credit expansion in the private sector — down from 20 per cent in 2015. Moreover, in the space of a year, we have seen 1.2 million fewer loans. The average loan size also increased by 47 per cent — a shift towards big business and middle- and upper-class borrowers.

The law effectively benefits the rich, not ‘Wanjiku’. This shouldn’t be the case, especially because the banking industry (the most regulated of all industries in Kenya) is supervised by CBK, which has at its disposal various policy tools, including the Prudential Guidelines, to moderate industry practices.

Cytonn observed that while the caps may solve the issue of bank spreads, it would lock out SMEs and other “high-risk” borrowers and that the law was based on “an unreasonable premise that the highest extra risk premium in the Kenyan market is four per cent”.

DOWNWARD CURVE

Advocates of the cap argued the pace of borrowing was already on a downward curve. But the Act introduced a distortion from which credit markets have not recovered.

Typically, the market should rebound within three months after a shock. In this case, however, the rate caps have prolonged, if not exacerbated, the situation. If this arbitrary price control was good for our economy, we would have seen an uptick by January 2017.

Indeed, there are markets with controls on loan prices. However, very few of them, if any, have the same extreme approach as ours.

In South Africa, the maximum limit is about 35.4 per cent while the prevailing commercial prime lending rate is 10.5 per cent.

MARKET DYNAMICS

Liberating interest rates to natural market dynamics will open up bank finance, enabling borrowers to access capital while banks get the opportunity to innovate and grow.

For this reason, national Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich’s move to repeal the Act is welcome.

It will pave the way for the Treasury and CBK to work with sector stakeholders to chart the best way forward that serves the interest of the economy while promoting financial inclusion and consumer protection.

Dr Olaka is the chief executive officer, Kenya Bankers Association (KBA). [email protected]


Why State should just leave local sugar industry to die off

The past few weeks has seen depressing news about sugar barons and their illicit sugar trade with risks to health and incomes.

But the problems bedevilling the sugar industry go beyond the contraband. The concerned state agencies have done little to encourage farmers to increase acreage under the crop to tap into economies of scale and to provide raw materials for the millers.

The obsolete technology used by the millers has ensured our local sugar prices itself out of the market as imported sugar is up to 60 per cent cheaper.

Then we have private millers who poach cane from rival firms.

MILLIONS OF SHILLINGS

In an effort to resuscitate the ailing state millers, the government has sunk millions of shillings into them. It is time the government cut its losses.

Two suggestions comes to mind. One, set up an independent agency to manage cane outgrowers and provide a cane pool from which all millers buy raw materials to end poaching.

If option one is not viable, the government should divest from the millers and let the industry collapse.

CHEAP COMESA IMPORTS

To fill the vacuum, the government should allow and regulate cheap Comesa imports, which will leave sugar consumers with more disposable income to develop other industries and make the dangerous illegal importation through Kismayu port unprofitable.

Sugarcane farmers have sunk to the lowest levels of poverty. County agriculture extension officers should educate them that other crops have higher margins

John Okach Owich, Machakos.


GAITHO: Tell Ruto brigade that political pacts are made to be broken

By MACHARIA GAITHO
More by this Author

We are being reminded every day that political pacts are made to be broken.

In the past, it was his predecessors and rivals who gained notoriety for walking out of solemn promises at the slightest excuse.

Today, it is President Uhuru Kenyatta under the radar on the likelihood of his reneging on the deal to support the succession bid by his deputy, Mr William Ruto.

As he considers his options, President Kenyatta might want to think back to how others in the past handled political pacts and consider whether his legacy will include joining the roll of dishonour.

He may recall that his predecessor, President Mwai Kibaki, rode to power in 2002 on the promise to create the post of Prime Minister for the forces led by Mr Raila Odinga, who had walked out of Kanu to ensure a runaway victory for the National Rainbow Coalition and bring to a shuddering halt the Independence party’s four-decade power monopoly.

CASUALTIES

Mr Kenyatta will remember that he was amongst the casualties as Kanu’s defeat also marked the humiliation of his first presidential election foray.

He might also bear in mind that opposition leader Odinga, the old rival he is striking a new pact with, has a long history of broken political promises.

Germane for now might be that he was seen to have betrayed the Opposition by jumping into bed with President Daniel arap Moi’s Kanu after his 1997 electoral defeat, but all was forgiven after he engineered the ruling party’s destruction from within.

More recently, Mr Odinga has walked back on promises to hand the baton to his opposition colleagues after presidential election defeats — first with the Cord alliance after the 2013 poll, and now likely with the Nasa coalition following the 2017 contest.

My favourite description of the culture of broken political promises was provided way back by President Moi.

In the late 1990s, he engineered the defection of former Kajiado North MP John Keen from Mr Kibaki’s Democratic Party, then the Official Opposition.
When Mr Keen publicly complained at a rally in Kajiado that the promised rewards had not been delivered, Mr Moi responded with a line from his book of courtship: When wooing a girl, you promise her the sun, the moon and the stars. Once she’s safely ‘in the box’, the promises are redundant.

Well, not exactly in those words, but that was the import of his words of wisdom.

If President Kenyatta wants to be remembered as a man of his word, a man of honour, he has no choice but to back Mr Ruto’s nomination for the Jubilee Party 2022 presidential election ticket.

He made a promise that was unveiled publicly and he has openly pledged to reciprocate and support Mr Ruto’s bid to succeed him at State House.

He also knows that he would never have won the presidency had it not been for the undiluted backing of Mr Ruto and his sizeable regional support base. He owes his deputy big time.

However, there is a big caveat: Mr Kenyatta owes a big debt but repayment would, obviously, be conditional on Mr Ruto keeping his side of the bargain.

There would be cause for rethink if the Deputy President is busy sabotaging the President by fomenting rebellions in his backward, resisting his key agenda items such as the fight against corruption and the quest for national peace and reconciliation, and diverting focus from the government development programme to premature campaigns for 2022.

The other issue is that the debt is not transferable. Mr Kenyatta can give his vote to Mr Ruto and campaign for him but cannot guarantee that his central Kenya bastions will follow suit.

President Kenyatta was sworn into office as an individual. Power and perks of office were not shared with the rest of his regional constituency.

PRIVATE PACTS

Those who voted for Mr Kenyatta out of ethnic loyalty are not bound by any private pacts he signed with Mr Ruto. However, they also cannot be bullied or coerced against supporting Mr Ruto if they so wish.

To that end, the Mt Kenya Foundation, Kikuyu Council of Elders, the Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (Gema) and other self-appointed meddlers have absolutely no business dictating against support for Mr Ruto.

The argument that the people of central Kenya must repay a “debt” to Mr Odinga, first because his father supported Uhuru’s father rise to the presidency, is as fallacious as the argument that the people owe Mr Ruto.

The wider community cannot be bound to pay Kenyatta family debts.

Mr Odinga should also be wary of imposters and fraudsters who pretend to provide political direction for the community but actually have negligible influence.


Energy reforms in Kenya bound to benefit electricity consumers

Successive governments over the past two decades have pledged to lower the cost of the energy but some of the promises have not come to pass.

The failure may be attributed to the political nature of the regime’s statements. Despite that, it is notable that the energy sector is one of the most complicated development sectors.

Utilisation of energy by an end user does not come easy. In nutshell, the process has to commence from identification of an energy resource to the generation of energy, a connection of the generated energy into the national grid and, finally, the selling of the energy to an ultimate user.

Accordingly, a proper policy change towards low cost of energy must focus on the infrastructure of the sector.

Kenya has one of the highest potential of energy resources in Africa. This was recently confirmed by the ‘East African Community Status Report 2016’, which noted that the country’s geothermal power production beats Ethiopia to second place.

COMPLEX ENERGY SECTOR

This adds to the mix of a complex energy sector, making it difficult to monitor the performance or at least ensure accountability in the multi-faceted energy production. Consequently, it poses a challenge of enforcing the national values and principles of governance.

Secondly, there is a logistical problem that arises from the ease of instability of the larger energy production web. This has the potential to negatively affect energy security and efficiency.

In a bid to offer a sustainable solution to the complexity, the government had rolled out a programme for creating distinct institutions responsible for the different stages of production.

Doubtless, the current unbundling has borne fruit. The Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) is responsible for power generation and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KenTraco) for distribution of the energy to the national grid. Lastly, Kenya Power does the distribution of the energy to the end users of the energy.

There is also an ongoing unbundling programme to ensure that Kenya Power is no longer a monopoly.

This has borne fruit, with private players such as Talek and Power Hive licensed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

If passed, the Energy Bill 2018, before Parliament for review of clauses, will ensure proper competition in electricity distribution, resulting in lower cost of electricity.

The enactment of the Investment Promotions Act 2004 seeks to reduce the bureaucracies in tariff negotiations and licensing, thereby encouraging local investment in power distribution.

All this progress — coupled with in-place Feed-in-Tariffs Policy for the promotion of renewable energy and Updated Least Cost Power Development Plan — will significantly reduce electricity costs for both domestic and industrial users.

Nelson Otieno Okeyo, Nairobi.