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Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

 

Turkana leaders demand Matiang’i meeting over insecurity, oil standoff

By SAMMY LUTTA
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Turkana leaders want to meet Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i as the stalemate on insecurity that has seen a stoppage of oil transportation from the county to Mombasa persists.

The leaders who met Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes on Monday said they want to present their issues directly to the Interior minister.

They held a meeting on Monday night where they agreed to push for more jobs for the local community.

The MPs who attended the meeting were James Lomenen (Turkana South), Mohammed Lokiru (Turkana East), Daniel Epuyo (Turkana West), John Lodepe (Turkana Central) and Jeremiah Lomorukai (Loima).

OIL TRUCKS

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and Mr Munyes were also said to have attended the meeting at the County Secretary boardroom in Lodwar town. County Commissioner Seif Matata led the Security Committee in the consultations. Ward Reps were also present.

Addressing journalists at 4 Zero Hotel in Lodwar town on Tuesday afternoon, MPs Lomenen and Mr Lokiru, who supported the blocking of five oil trucks destined for Mombasa at Kalemngorok on the Lokichar-Kapenguria highway on Wednesday last week, said Mr Munyes and his Interior counterpart Matiang’i must address their demands first before any more oil leaves Turkana.

Mr Lomenen said the meeting, chaired by Governor Nanok, was also attended by members of the county assembly, especially from Turkana East and Turkana South constituencies, and county executive committee members.

He said they want Dr Matiang’i to ensure that all livestock stolen by bandits since President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the first four oil trucks on June 3 are recovered.

“We want Dr Matiang’i to assure us that the security measures he will put in place will stop banditry in Turkana County, especially in Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties where oil operations are going on. Only then will the citizens live in peace and have faith in the national government,” he said.

Mr Lokiru said insecurity issues especially on the border of Turkana and Baringo counties have not been solved for months.

He wondered why Dr Matiang’i had not honoured his pledge to visit Lokori in Turkana East on Tuesday.

INCITEMENT

The MPs said they were free to engage any stakeholder on the oil and security situation.

He added that they were aware of plans to arrest them on incitement charges, saying they were ready to be jailed if that was the ultimate price they would pay for their community to be safe.

“Those planning the arrests should not waste time, just tell us to go to a specific prison. We don’t want to waste government resources taking us there. We are available,” he said.

The MPs said they are tired of giving residents empty promises on jobs, tenders and recovery of stolen livestock.


We need bodyguards or guns: Baringo MCAs

By FLORAH KOECH
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Baringo MCAs want the government to provide them with bodyguards or to be allowed to own guns.

The ward representatives said their security is not guaranteed following the abduction of Silale MCA Nelson Lotela.

“You can imagine a situation where one of us is hijacked in broad daylight. It has shown that none of us is safe anywhere in Baringo and, were it not for the noise and intervention from leaders in the area, I fear the MCA could not be alive today,” said Mochongoi MCA Kipruto Kimosop.

NO ARRESTS

The ward representative condemned the incident and demanded a thorough investigation to establish what happened. “Because the suspects appear to be linked to government agencies, we are also asking for foreign investigators. In the last assembly, we lost two members including a parliamentary aspirant in similar circumstances,” said Mr Kimosop.

The MCA raised concern that justice was yet to be delivered for the three political leaders who were murdered last year. “Up to now there are no arrests, investigations are not forthcoming and files have just been left to gather dust in the shelves. This time round, we are demanding answers as to why the MCA was abducted,” he added.

The ward representative also demanded beefing up of security for MCAs from the region. Nominated MCA Julia Kandie also called for investigations into the abduction of the MCA.

“We are demanding security of the MCAs by either being provided with bodyguards or allowed to own guns because we now fear for our lives,” said Mr Kimosop.

Ms Kandie said that rampant killing of politicians in the region is raising fears among leaders in the county because they are not assured of their security.

Silale ward representative Nelson Lotela was abducted on Sunday at Nginyang’ road in Tiaty Sub-County.

The Sunday 5.30pm happened when the MCA was heading home from Chemolingot trading centre when he was intercepted by people purporting to be security officers who ordered him to disembark from his vehicle and bundled him into a saloon car.

BODY FOUND

Mr Lotela’s driver, who was with him at the time of the incident positively identified the vehicle and went to report the matter at Nginyang’ police station.

Mr Lotela was found on Monday morning dumped in a maize plantation in Sobea, in the neighbouring Nakuru County and taken to Kabarak University Health Center.

The incident happened barely a year after Churo/Amaya ward MCA Thomas Minito went missing and his body was found four days later floating in Odonyo Sabuk River in Machakos County.


Withdraw retirement circular, have old workers leave and youth hired

If you visit to Kongowea, Kisauni and Bombolulu in Mombasa County, you will see men in red uniform waiting for jobs, especially as matatu touts for only one trip.

Joblessness in Mombasa and other parts of Kenya are so high that hardly a month passes before you hear Wakali Kwanza or another criminal group has attacked and even killed people.

That is why Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua’s February 27 circular, “Terms of Service for State Corporations’ Chief Executive Officers”, should be withdrawn immediately. It scrapped the age and term limits for top civil servants, allowing them to work beyond the mandatory retirement age of 60.

They can also serve for more than two terms; meaning those holding such jobs will relinquish them after 2022.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities continue churning out graduates but jobs will not be forthcoming for them soon.

There are many people who can do duty for Kenya but, if there is no space for them, they are likely to die of old age with their skills having not been exploited.

Veronica Onjoro, Mombasa.

* * *
With the rising youth unemployment, more jobs need to be created for them. Lack of jobs is leading to an increase in crime in the country.
One way of reducing unemployment is ensuring that nobody who has attained the age of retirement continues working. It is immoral — probably illegal — for one to continue holding onto a job that they do not deserve.

Nyaga Purity Mukami, Kisumu.


Health ministry bans use of HIV drug

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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The Health ministry has warned counties to stop prescribing a HIV drug linked to birth defects in HIV-positive women.

Through Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko, the ministry has further directed county health directors to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to whom a front-line drug, dolutegravir (DTG), has been prescribed, continue their current prescription until they stop breastfeeding.

But those of child bearing age between 15 and 49 years, who are on the drug, should be given the first-line treatment Efavirenz.

In a memo to county directors of health, Dr Kioko said the drug, which was launched in the Kenyan market last year, was not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women “due to limited safety data”.

INJECT DRUGS

He, however, added that through a circular in June 2017, the ministry had recommended the use of DTG in alternative regimen for people with HIV and have intolerance to Efavirenz, people who inject drugs and are on anti-retroviral therapy or new patients in the same category.

It was recommended to be part of the third-line drug for patients. who were not responding to the available second line anti-retroviral therapy drugs.

Dr Kioko’s memo, comes barely three weeks after the Nation highlighted that two international drug regulators had warned that a generic version of an antiretroviral drug can cause birth defects in pregnant women.

He also noted that as per the 2017 circular, adolescents and adult men on the first-line ARV drugs will be started on DTG.

DRUG REACTIONS

“The ministry encourages all healthcare providers to be vigilant in identification and reporting of adverse drug reactions related to ARVs,” he added.

The international regulators, US Food and Drugs Administration and the European Medicines Agency last month warned that new studies indicate that women with HIV taking the drug at the time of conception or during the first trimester of pregnancy appear to be at higher risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects.

Neural tube defects are birth defects that can occur early in pregnancy when the spinal cord, brain, and related structures do not form properly.

“Women of childbearing age who decide to take a dolutegravir-containing regimen should consistently use effective birth control (contraception) while on HIV treatment,” noted the regulators in press statements.

DURING PREGNANCY

The drug was first approved less than four years ago and the World Health Organisation advises against using the drug during pregnancy or breast-feeding due to insufficient safety and efficacy data in this population, and this guidance remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, GSK said it was notifying doctors of the issue and working with healthcare authorities to better understand the potential risk.

Dolutegravir (DTG or Tivicay) is manufactured by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and was made available to patients through a partnership between the Ministry of Health and Geneva-based Unitaid.

Dolutegravir was authorised in the U.S in 2013 and in the European Union in 2014.

NEWER DRUG
The drug work by blocking an HIV enzyme to prevent the virus from multiplying, thereby reducing the amount of virus in the body.

Given that it was a newer drug, with high costs it is largely unavailable across low- and middle-income countries, until innovative partnerships, brokered a deal between the government of Botswana (2016) and later Kenya (2017) to make it available as part of the national health programme.

The generic version sold under the brand name Tivicay and costs about Sh403 ($4) for a 30-day supply pack. Prior to the current introduction, patients paid Sh 5,045 –Sh6054 ($50-$60) for a pack.

The 2016 Botswana deal was the first time that dolutegravir, was being made available as a first-line treatment as part of a national health program in sub-Saharan Africa.

BIRTH DEFECTS
“There is no known mechanism linking dolutegravir with these types of birth defects and there are no relevant findings in pre-clinical studies,” GSK said in a statement.

“Animal models are generally predictive of drug-induced birth defects and it is very unusual to see an effect in humans if no evidence is observed in animal models.”

The two regulators said they were assessing evidence of the connection between dolutegravir and birth defects, adding that it should not be prescribed to women seeking to become pregnant.

The move made mid last may followed preliminary data from a study in Botswana which found four cases of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, in babies born to mothers who became pregnant while taking the drug.


House Speaker Justin Muturi chastises MPs for bad conduct

By DAVID MWERE
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The National Assembly director of committee services, Ms Florence Abonyo, will now be required to take attendance of MPs in the House committees, Speaker Justin Muturi announced on Wednesday. He warned those who fail to take their committee work seriously that they would be removed.

Mr Muturi made the comments as the integrity of the House committees came into question after a complaint from the leader of majority Aden Duale that members are not taking the business of the House seriously.

The Kenyan parliament, just like those of the United States and United Kingdom, transacts its business in committees.

GENERAL MISCONDUCT

The trend in the 12th parliament has been allegations that if MPs are not fighting each other in parliament or outside, they are either misbehaving in the committees or busy rent seeking.

The Powers and Privileges committee chaired by the speaker is already handling cases of assault and general misconduct involving MPs Charles Njagua (Starehe), Babu Owino (Embakasi East) and Caleb Amisi (Saboti) among others.

“You can’t be in a committee yet you have never attended any of its committee meetings. You should be removed!” Reading MPs the riot act, Mr Muturi said.

Unlike before when MPs would openly abuse their privileges – attending committees only to sign for Sh5,000 sitting allowance per session and leaving immediately without contributing – this time the committee clerks will be required to document how long members stay in their committees.

FRIENDS OF COMMITTEES

Mr Muturi was also firm that members should not become friends of committees merely because a person from “your village is just appearing to give information.” Even as the speaker issued this warning, some committees and their leadership were on the spot regarding conduct of their members.

The Energy committee chaired by Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria was among those whose conduct was questioned.

The committee members, including their chairman and the vice chairperson Dr Robert Pukose (Endebes) are said to have attended a retreat believed to have been sponsored by Kenya Power.

The committee and the managing director of Kenya Power Mr Ken Tarus would later be captured in a group photo in one of the posh hotels outside Nairobi.

Mr Duale and his leader of minority colleague John Mbadi (Suba South) blamed the MPs for giving parliament a bad name. Mr Duale took issue with the committee members, who openly hug individuals they invite to give evidence.


Exams to blame for unrest in schools, says Education PS Belio Kipsang

By NATION TEAM
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The government has blamed the current wave of school unrest on panic over exams, as Maranda High School became the latest institution to be closed due to strife.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said even though fewer schools had reported cases of unrest compared to last year, the government is concerned about the development.

“We have done our investigations which indicate that the cases are due to panic over exams that are set to start in coming months. Most of the students in affected schools seem unprepared due to the tight examination regulations in place.

“No amount of threats from students will make us go back to where we were when cheating was normal,” said Dr Kipsang when he visited Dagoreti High School in Nairobi which has also been affected by student unrest.

AVERT STRIKES

He directed regional education boards to work with county commissioners to avert school strikes.

In Siaya, Maranda High School was closed after the administration foiled a planned strike. Nyanza regional education coordinator Richard Chepkwai said the decision to close the school was arrived at following rising tension among the students.

On Tuesday, Ng’iya Girls in Siaya County was closed following a strike by the students.

The school board chairperson, Ms Margaret Nandi, said the girls were sent home to pave the way for investigations into the cause of the strike.

PUT UNDER CONTROL

“The students started demonstrating around 8pm on Monday and by 10pm the situation had been put under control. The board, however, allowed them to go home as we continue with investigations into the incident,” Ms Nandi said.

On Monday, Kisumu Girls High School was also closed indefinitely after students went on the rampage and destroyed property. The students accused the principal of high-handedness.

Kisumu county director of education Sabina Aroni ordered that the school be closed.

On Wednesday, Dr Kipsang warned that stern action would be taken against students of Chaldi High School in Marsabit who on Monday assaulted their teachers.
He said the students would be handed over to police for prosecution.

TRANSFERRED TEACHERS

The Teachers Service Commission on Wednesday transferred the 12 teachers who were assaulted to other schools.
“We support the decision taken by TSC. We would like to urge students to respect their teachers. Teachers are like their parents and any attack on teachers is criminal,” said Dr Kipsang.

He said the government would not accept indiscipline in schools and asked students to focus on preparing for exams.

Reported by Ouma Wanzala, Justus Ochieng and Elizabeth Ojina


 Drugs fuelling Murang’a rape deaths, study reveals

By GRACE GITAU
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By NDUNG’U GACHANE
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A child is being defiled and killed in Murang’a every week as the vice threatens to destabilise an already fractured society, studies have shown.

In the past month, four girls were defiled and killed in the county.

And no one knows the pain of this more than Catherine Njeri. Her four-year-old daughter was found defiled and her tongue and nails removed at Kihiu Mwiri, Gatanga constituency, Murang’a County.

The grave of the four-year-old is still fresh, lying less than 50 metres from a two bedroom mud house with rusty mabati roofing.

Mercy Njoki was dropped to school but did not return. Eleven days later, her body was found on a path leading to Nginye Dam.

REMOVED BODY PARTS

“Why did the attacker remove her body parts? It can only mean they will be used in witchcraft,” she said.

It gets worse for Njeri. No one has been arrested and she claims the chief, Mr Stephen Chege, is intimidating the family.

“It has reached a point where we cannot report anything to the chief. When the media reported this matter, we were publicly rebuked at a baraza,” she says.

In Muthithi village, Kigumo constituency, another family is still mourning the death of an eight-year-old girl whose body was found dumped in a maize plantation.

A postmortem report showed that she had been defiled then hit on the head with a blunt object.

LIFELESS BODY

The girl’s father, Mr Peter Karuri, sobs as he recounts the tragedy of finding his daughter lying in a farm with her school bag next to her lifeless body.

In Kigumo, parents are now accompanying their children to school and waiting at the gate after their classes.

What could be the cause of these cases? Experts and police are blaming the scourge on drug abuse, dysfunctional families and lack of action by the police.

In Muthithi village where cases of defilement have been on the rise, use of bhang is common among the youth and old men.

According to locals, the police have information on bhang peddlers but fail to take action.

“All the police do is collect money. When we decide to arrest the suspects ourselves, the police tip them off. Some villagers who have been brave enough to report bhang peddlers have been killed,” said a Nyumba Kumi head.

BHANG EFFECTS

Sergeant Moses Kimenchu, a professional counsellor and Administration Police officer, said bhang affects the central part of the brain which controls decision making, leading to defilement, murder and suicidal thoughts.

Those suspected of defiling school girls are not outsiders. They have been linked to at least three cases of defilement, yet they are still not behind bars.

In Muthithi village, Kigumo, another family’s child escaped narrowly from being defiled by a 70-year-old man, who allegedly undressed the girl and himself.

Angry villagers beat up the man before the police arrested him.

He was later charged at Kigumo court with attempted defilement.


Probe Kenya Power and streamline sector

By EDITORIAL
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Kenya Power has been in the spotlight over high electricity bills and erratic supply. Yet this comes against a backdrop of the previously remarkable achievement of expanding power supply that saw many households connected to the national grid under the Last Mile initiative.

For good measure, under the package, the connection fee was significantly reduced and consumer bills made affordable to ensure wide access to electricity.

Although the prices have since stabilised, consumers have not been told what occasioned the steep rise, leaving the matter to conjecture.

A common narrative, though, was that the power firm was aggressively looking for money to fill gaps arising from inexplicable expenditures.

The jury is still out on that.

FAULTY TRANSFORMERS

Now, reports have emerged about shady deals at Kenya Power that raise questions about its financial probity.

The company has procured defective transformers and installed them for consumers, putting them at risk of electrical faults.

So much money has been spent on unusable items, and this is a big loss.

Although there may be no direct link between procurement of faulty transformers and the high power bills, the whole thing brings to question prudence in management of public funds.

THOROUGH INVESTIGATIONS

We are concerned that the firm must have burnt its fingers in the deal, which matter requires thorough investigation.

The corporation has to explain to the public how their cash was used to buy faulty gadgets. Whichever way, this amounts to financial impropriety, for which punitive action must be taken against those found culpable.

The report brings to the fore pertinent questions about Kenya Power. What are the processes used to purchase equipment at the firm?

POWER UTILITY

What are the safety rules that guide such purchases? Why should the company expose consumers to risk by installing substandard transformers?

In all this, the point we are making is that things are not right at the power utility, which is a reason for concern for all of us. It is not lost on anyone that, in just in the past few days, the public has been treated to drama about the cost of electricity.

HIGHER BILLS

At first, there was declaration that the bills would go down as the regulator, Energy Regulatory Authority, was pushing for waiver of certain tariffs.

Hardly a few days after, the tune changed, and we were being told to expect higher bills. All these point to poor management of the energy sector.

For now, the authorities must thoroughly investigate the transformer deal and take the necessary action.

In the long term, however, the energy sector should be streamlined to ensure safe, reliable and affordable power supply across the country.


Time to rein in boda boda

By EDITORIAL
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The informal ‘boda boda’ transport sub-sector is a growing national problem that needs to be seriously addressed.

While it’s generally acknowledged that the motorcycle taxis complement public transport, especially in the rural areas, they have also become increasingly visible in the towns and other urban centres.

However, the biggest problem with boda boda is the riders’ penchant for lawlessness. They break traffic rules with impunity and have, therefore, tremendously increased the burden of traffic police officers.

What started out as a peripheral operation, mainly using bicycles, has gained ground with the faster and more efficient motorbikes, spawning problems that call for some kind of regulation.

Rogue riders now contribute significantly to the increasing fatal road accidents in collisions with motor vehicles. Many have also been injured in crashes due to speeding or sheer recklessness.

And this has a lot to do with the lack of proper instruction for the riders. It’s not uncommon for people to buy these machines and give them to their kin, who, after only a few lessons by unqualified instructors, will be on the road carrying passengers.

Today, many public and even private hospitals report that the majority of the accident victims in their wards are from boda boda crashes. This puts undue pressure on the limited medical facilities. This is why this necessary evil needs to be tamed.

The proposals by MPs to the Transport ministry to guide boda boda operations are a step in the right direction. For starters, the National Assembly Transport Committee wants all the riders to be registered in saccos to ease their regulation.

The registration of boda boda is long overdue. It will help to curb their recruitment into criminal gangs as they will be easily identifiable and also to professionalise their operations.


Give thought to mental disorder problem

By JANE MANGWANA
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Of late, a number of incidents of young people abruptly ending their lives have been reported. Just a week ago, a young man from Nyandarua, Gerald Mwangi, allegedly ended his life less than 24 hours after posting a suicide note on his Facebook wall.

While in the 1990s we rarely heard of such cases in Kenya, it is a worrying trend that this is likely to escalate if not addressed soon enough.

Most of the victims had mental disorder, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) describes as characterised by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

It manifests in various ways — such as depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders, including autism.

MENTAL ILLNESS
Mental disorder is increasingly a big issue in developing countries. In Kenya, one in four patients at a primary health facility suffers from a mental illness.

The prevalence is attributed to poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, stress and other factors. Unfortunately, most mental disorder patients do not get the treatment and care that they need.

Depression is common among the youth as most of them feel that they are not supported by people around them.

It is characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness and poor concentration. Depression can be on and off and, when most severe, could lead to suicide.

Adolescents, specifically, are a vulnerable lot and are at a stage where they are trying to discover themselves. They experiment with a number of things and need assurances. At times, parents and guardians are too busy to see the tell-tale signs until it is too late.

Mental health patients should not be discriminated against but, instead, offered psychosocial support.

PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT

In Kenya, mental healthcare is predominantly State-funded but is extremely limited in terms of infrastructure, manpower and finances.

The country has only 62 psychiatrists registered with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board and 427 trained nurses in about 16 hospitals that offer the services.

The ‘Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030’ provides for a framework on interventions for securing mental health systems reforms in Kenya.

This is in line with the Constitution, Vision 2030, the Kenya Health Policy (2014-2030) and global commitments.

Its goal is attainment of the highest standard of mental health.

MENTAL DISORDERS

There are effective strategies for preventing mental disorders. Besides medicines that help to stabilise the mood are centres that offer psychosocial support.

In Kenya, the best-known specialised mental health public facility is Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital, in Nairobi.

The government needs to set up more public mental health centres outside the city, staffed with skilled personnel.

The Ministry of Health must also implement the policy and address the systemic challenges and emerging trends and mitigate the burden.

We must acknowledge the existence of mental disorders and address them before we lose more lives. More importantly, mental disorder should be given preference like other illnesses.