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Monday, July 9th, 2018

 

State agencies on spot over poisonous sugar

By DAVID MWERE
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A committee of the National Assembly has accused key government institutions of sleeping on the job and allowing the entry into the country of poisonous sugar.

The Committee on Implementation has specifically faulted the ministries of Health, Treasury and Agriculture, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Agriculture and Food and Fisheries Authorities (AFFA) of doing little to curb the importation of contraband sugar.

The concerns of the committee chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta come as the country grapples with fears that the sugar in the market is laced with mercury, copper among other heavy metals that are harmful to human health.

IMPLEMENT REPORT

Of interest to the committee charged with ensuring that all the resolutions of the House including petitions, laws, motions, and reports are implemented, is the fact that the government institutions failed to implement a report of the Agriculture and Livestock committee of the 11th Parliament — ‘The crisis facing the sugar industry in Kenya’.

“Had this report been implemented fully by the responsible agencies, we would not be having the problems we are having on the suitability of sugar in the market now. They failed Kenyans big time,” Mr Kenta said.

The report, which was adopted in 2016, had recommended the establishment of a permanent inter-agency enforcement unit on sugar trade to enhance capacity to verify, scrutinise and monitor cross-border trade.

BORDER PATROLS

The unit was also required to step up border patrols to eradicate sugar smuggling. It was to draw membership from Kenya Ports Authority, Health ministry, AFFA, Kebs, police and KRA, but this did not happen, exposing Kenyans to the current health risks. KRA was required to investigate and take action against its officers who cleared the entry of sugar without authority from the regulator.

“Any company that imported sugar without authority from the regulator should be banned from import and export business,” the report says.  The committee recommended the cancellation of import licences of Kenafric Industries, Czarnikov East Africa ltd, Stuntwave lMshale Commodities and Rising Star Commodities Ltd. Interestingly, some of these companies were allowed to import duty-free sugar last year.


Swiss deal on stolen cash boosts graft war

By EDITORIAL
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The deal signed between Kenya and Switzerland on recovery of cash and assets acquired through corruption marks an important step in the fight against the vice that has networks far and wide.

It is no longer tenable to plunder national resources and keep the proceeds abroad and enjoy it without sanctions.

This is one of the outcomes of the meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Swiss leader Alain Berset, who committed to a joint strategy to rein in the lords of corruption who have found a safe haven in foreign countries.

Switzerland is among the few traditional destinations for stolen public money, given the secretive banking rules that easily shield looters from scrutiny.

Kenya has agonised over ways and means of retrieving stolen public money and other assets hidden in offshore accounts, the preferred location for the looters, because of lack of frameworks for cooperation.

MAJOR SCANDALS

Past major scandals such as Anglo Leasing were executed through international connections with payments made abroad and a tight lid kept on the accounts, making it extremely difficult to reach the plotters and the loot. So far, Switzerland has confiscated assets worth Sh200 million accruing from that scam, which is a small percentage of the total amount that was lost.

In the same vein, huge sums of money stolen from the energy sector in the 1990s and stashed in accounts in Jersey Islands for which Kenya has had difficulty recovering because of vexed judicial processes should be followed up.

We are happy that the landscape is changing as nations seek collaboration to fight transnational crime, more so in this age of terror and money laundering.

No longer can nations sit pretty and pretend that any money can pass through their financial system, especially when the source is known to be dubious.

ILLICIT MONEY

Already, a precedent has been set with Nigeria, where billions of dollars looted during the regimes of the previous rulers such as Sani Abacha, have been confiscated and repatriated to the country.

Nigeria has the inglorious experience of illicit money movements and the action that was taken sends a strong signal that the end is nigh for crooked transactions.

However, the success of the anti-graft crusade will only be felt if, likewise, the government intensifies recovery of stolen public money and properties kept within our borders.

Clearly, the Kenya-Swiss pact on the recovery of stolen public funds and assets is a big step in curbing corruption. The team appointed to steer the process must fine-tune the details and get down to implementation immediately.

Kenya must seek similar deals with other countries.


Kenya, Swiss sign deal to recover corruption loot

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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The fight against corruption went a notch higher on Monday following the signing of an agreement that clears the way for the recovery of assets acquired through graft and stashed in foreign countries.

The agreement was signed by Attorney General Paul Kariuki and Switzerland ambassador to Kenya Ralf Heckner in an event witnessed by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and his Swiss counterpart Alain Berset.

The first assets to be targeted will be monies stolen through the Anglo-Leasing scandal and hidden in Switzerland.

Last year, the European nation said it had frozen Sh200 million stashed in the country from the scam.

Switzerland last month confirmed it had repatriated a total of $1.2 billion to Nigeria—$722 million in 2005 and $322 million of the looted assets of former military ruler Sani Abacha, as it seeks to shake off the tag of being a safe haven for stolen public funds.

“This agreement will ensure that illegally acquired wealth held outside the country is repatriated to benefit the Kenyan people,” President Kenyatta said yesterday at State House during the signing of the agreement.

FIGHT CORRUPTION

“We have seen in the last few months a new intensity in the fight against corruption in Kenya. Quite frankly, my administration has shown that corruption cannot, and, will not be tolerated,” he said.

The agreement, which is also supported by the United Kingdom and the Jersey Island, will create a mechanism for Kenya to recover money stolen by corrupt individuals and hidden in the three countries.

State House later said a steering committee comprising the Executive Office of the President, the Attorney General, the National Treasury, the Assets Recovery Agency, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Agency and envoys or representatives representing the partner countries will be established to implement the deal.

Part of the roles of the team, the statement said, will be identifying potential assets to be recovered, and potential implementing organisations, deciding unanimously on priorities for the use of returned funds, monitor progress in returning assets, receive reports on the progress of projects funded through recovered assets and learning lessons for future returns.

ASSET RECOVERY

To avoid complicating the asset recovery process, the framework says the recovery should follow executable judgements, a statement from State House said.

“Other countries that have anti-corruption laws and have identified proceeds of corruption that they are willing to return to Kenya may join as new partners with consent of all the existing partners and the government of Kenya,” the document further reads.

President Berset, who is on a two-day visit to Kenya, termed Kenya’s ties with the Swiss stronger after it opened its embassy in the country last year. He noted that trade had doubled since 2005.

President Kenyatta announced that Kenya will open a new embassy in Bern, Switzerland before the end of October 2018. Earlier, the two leaders held private talks followed by a bilateral meeting where they discussed how to deepen trade and security ties between the two countries.


Meet Kenya’s youngest PhD holder

By GRACE GITAU
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Born and raised in Mbiriri village at the foothills of Mt Kenya in Nyeri county, Dr Purity Ngina could not in her wildest dreams imagine that one day she would be Kenya’s youngest Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate.

Last month, at the age of 28, Dr Ngina made history to become the youngest PhD holder in Biomathematics in the country.

Donning short hair, she welcomes the Nation team to her home, where neighbours soon flock the compound, no doubt very proud of their daughter’s achievement.

“It is difficult to convince some of them that I am not a doctor in the medical field,” Ngina says.

She is jovial and bursts into laughter often.

But she puts on a serious face when explaining the relationship between HIV and mathematics, which was the subject of her PhD thesis.

WITHOUT SHOES

From a humble beginning, Ngina remembers going to school without shoes and fetching water from River Sagana, which is 3km from her home.

The last born in a family of two scored 235 marks in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations. Her late mother, Lydia Ngina, was not amused and prevailed upon her to repeat class eight and work harder. She managed to get 368 marks.

She was admitted to Tumu Tumu High School in Nyeri.

After struggling to pay her school fees throughout high school, she managed to score B+ and was admitted to Egerton University to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.

FIRST CLASS HONOURS

She was then offered a full scholarship to pursue a Masters in Applied Mathematics after getting First Class honours degree, in 2013.

In 2016, she joined Strathmore University as an assistant lecturer. The German Academic Exchange Service paid her PhD tuition fee.

On June 29, she was among the three doctorate graduates at the Strathmore University.

Ngina now hopes to mentor girls to pursue Math.


KARIUKI: Early oil pilot a private sector boost

By CAROLE KARIUKI
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The launch of the pilot scheme to export crude oil via Mombasa is a historic and proud moment for Kenya as it marks the start of a period that we all hope will spur growth in this part of the world.

Watching President Uhuru Kenyatta flag off the first trucks headed to Mombasa, those of us who travelled to Lokichar for the event were happy that, finally, that first step has been taken so many years after the announcement was made that oil has been discovered in Turkana County.

The Early Oil Pilot Scheme has, inevitably, provoked robust debates on social media and the various other platforms on which Kenyans engage with questions about the viability of the scheme and how much money Kenya will eventually make from it.

Thankfully, the Mining ministry and Tullow Oil have helped to answer the questions as the government put in place the necessary infrastructure for the scheme to kick off.

Debates and discussions on this subject are necessary and should be encouraged but we should not lose the forest for the trees or miss the many opportunities for business and economic growth at every level that come with the developments associated with the scheme.

DEVELOP INFRASTRUCTURE

First, the scheme comes with an opportunity to develop infrastructure in Turkana. There is already progress in the form of the installation of a Bailey bridge at Kainuk.

The speedy construction of the bridge demonstrated that, with political goodwill, it is possible for the government to facilitate business and get things going.

Beyond that, the oil exploration has resulted in the construction and rehabilitation of local roads — the sort of long-term investment in infrastructure which, in turn, benefits residents and businesses in the area.

The exploration has brought new life to Turkana and there are now towns where investors have been encouraged to set up businesses that provide the basic comforts for travellers — a bed, shower and meals.

As the export scheme takes root and gains steam, demand for services will grow and, along with them, the opportunities that the private sector thrives upon.

There are bound to be opportunities for the private sector in the establishment of basic amenities to the bigger investments such as healthcare and schools for those who will work in those towns.

This is also likely to be the case for towns along the route where the oil trucks will routinely stop.

Peace and security is crucial if the scheme and eventual plans are to succeed. As President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto said at the launch, we must view the oil find as a blessing.

Violence is a deterrence to investors as nobody wants to put their money in a place where peace and stability is not assured.

Investors will be reassured of their safety and that of their workers if leaders in the North Rift counties work for the cohesion and integration of the communities there and for the violence that so often disturbs that region to become a thing of the past.

The communities, and especially the leaders, will need to see the export of crude oil as a sure sign of a brighter future for a region that has suffered neglect for long.

From what we saw at Lokichar, there is potential for it to become the North’s industrial town, a Thika of sorts, and a logistics and communication hub for that part of the region.

The private sector is happy that a plan that has been spoken of for a long time has finally had progress and there is, finally, an agreement on the sharing of revenues at all levels.

It is now upon Parliament to speedily process the Bill.

PILOT EXPORT

Tullow Oil is a member of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) and we share in its joy because of this milestone. We have already begun to see from the pilot export scheme how the ‘Big Four’ agenda pillar of manufacturing and creation of jobs can be achieved as SMEs form linkages with big companies.

More than 3,400 Kenyans were employed through the supply chain in the field operations, which reached a peak in 2014. The number of Kenyans employed on the Tullow team in Turkana hit a high of 96 per cent in March 2016.

Local firms have benefited from Tullow’s expenditure in Turkana to the tune of $273 million (Sh27.3 billion) in procurement opportunities from 2011 and to 2016. In Turkana, contractors have spent about $25.2 million (Sh25.2 billion) with local suppliers. This is evidence that, with the right support, Kenyans have begun to reap the benefits of the oil find and these are the sort of opportunities that Kepsa seeks to grow.

Kenya is still some way from getting the full benefits of the oil but, from the progress so far, we have a reason to look forward to Phase Two and Three of the project — the oil pipeline and the refinery.


Kenya’s bad political culture to blame for electoral agency woes

By ELIUD NGENO
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A trend is emerging that after a General Election the electoral agency must somehow get into trouble, with calls to reform or even disband it.

But is the ‘bungling’ of elections the culprit in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) woes?

It cannot be that both the eminent team of the select committees that interview commissioners and Parliament have a penchant to appoint the inept.

It cannot be that all commissioners look bad after only six months of appointment. The current commission, which has also been threatened with dissolution, is the fourth in only nine years since the transitional Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) took over after the disbandment of the Samuel Kivuitu-led Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) in December 2008.

Changing commissioners has been expensive. Millions of shillings are paid for the “honourable exits” while the new team is greeted with murmurs of discontent, suspicion and disappointment.

FIRST CASUALTY

The first casualty — and the real cause for the vicious cycle — is experience. It takes time to learn and reform institutions — even more at a high-stake, politicised outfit like the IEBC.

The IIEC conducted several elections and a referendum within 10 months. Since the law had provisions for retention of experience, commissioner Yusuf Nzibo and chairman Issack Hassan transitioned to the IEBC. The Hassan-led team faced accusations after the 2013 polls and were sent home with a handsome “negotiated settlement” in 2016 and the current IEBC hired.

Invaluable time is also lost in these changes. For one year after the ECK, the country had no electoral body.

The current commissioners are well versed with elections. The current situation also provides a perfect opportunity to stagger recruitment of commissioners. They should serve on a six-year non-renewable contract like the ones currently in office. It means they will stay longer, for continuity and institutional memory.

 POLL MANAGER

If a poll manager is found culpable of a misdeed, can’t they be made answerable individually? It is not possible to build professionalism and integrity among a people who live in a perpetual state of uncertainty and blanket condemnation.

The IEBC’s problems, if not urgently addressed, could negatively affect the more emotive and polarising boundary delimitation and even the next polls. In short, failure could already be eminent.

The second possible culprit is the electoral system: The winner-takes-it-all presidential system, where the second-best candidate has no leadership role despite garnering many votes. It raises the stakes in elections and fuels un merited petitions.

It is time to change the law for a parliamentary or hybrid system where political parties, rather than individuals, contest the elections. This is the model adopted by a number of countries — such as Israel and South Africa — where people vote for parties and the leaders are picked from a pre-established list of nominees. It makes parties strong and reduces the cost of elections.

POOR PERFORMANCE

The third precipitating factor to poor performance and an attendant call for disbandment is the application of the electoral law. When we are not misinterpreting the law, we are manipulating it.

There has been an enduring debate on whether or not the IEBC is properly constituted, with a quorum.

Whereas the Election Act places a minimum of five members at every IEBC meeting, Article 250 (1) of the Constitution provides that “Each commission shall consist of at least three, but not more than nine, members”. Section 7(3) of the IEBC Act 2011 provides that “The commission shall be properly constituted notwithstanding a vacancy in its membership”.

There is a need to harmonise the seemingly conflicting laws. The law could define quorum by percentages rather than numbers, which would remove the headache encountered when a commissioner(s) resigns.

The electoral bodies of India and New Zealand have three commissioners while Canada has had one since 1920. Other Kenyan constitutional commissions have fewer commissioners than IEBC.

The lack of trust in IEBC has nothing to do with the number or composition, robustness of technology or stringiness of the laws. Our unrealistic expectations, gerrymandering and political culture hold key to its election management woes.


Politics of ‘Hakuna Deni’ bring out the fraud in UhuRuto pact

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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If one ever needed proof that Kikuyu-Kalenjin ethnic relations remain a ticking time bomb, that was inadvertently provided by the Hatuna Deni (We Have no Debt) music video that is spreading like bushfire.

The song purports to represent general Kikuyu rejection of the notion that the community owes Deputy President William Ruto for the backing by him and his Kalenjin peoples of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successful 2013 and 2107 campaigns.

That Mr Ruto has found it fit to publicly respond to the ‘no debt’ mantra is, itself, an indication that the narrative is being taken seriously.

The Jubilee Party and ‘UhuRuto’ power-sharing and succession pact was based on the fiction that it united their warring communities and finally restored peace in the perpetual battlefields of the Rift Valley.

The presumption that Mr Kenyatta will reciprocate and throw his weight behind Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential campaign can no longer be taken for granted.

Mr Kenyatta may intend to honour his promise but there is no guarantee that he will rally the Kikuyu to a man behind Mr Ruto in the way the latter’s Kalenjin did for him.

CONTROVERSIAL SONG

And that is where the controversial song comes in. Even if President Kenyatta has nothing to do with it, the recording is obviously sponsored by a wealthy and influential grouping within his power elite that is increasingly pushing for disengagement. It is within their right.

A private power-sharing and transfer pact between the two Jubilee principals in no way binds their entire communities.

The alliance helped to make Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, respectively, President and Deputy President of Kenya and not of their respective communities. And power was shared between the two individuals, not every Kikuyu and Kalenjin.

To that extent, any favour granted or any debt owed remains an individual matter.

Hatuna Deni however, veers dangerously beyond just establishing this principle. It purports to speak for the entire Kikuyu community but its sponsors have absolutely no authority to dictate political direction for the people.

Those who wish to vote for Mr Ruto have an unfeterred right to do so without the intimidation that often follows ethnic mobilisation.

The song even goes further and launches personalised and highly scurrilous attacks against the DP and, not being content with attacking an individual, stoops to the extent of unflattering references to his family and his community.

ETHNIC VIOLENCE

In dredging up the sad chapter of Kikuyu-Kalenjin ethnic violence in the Rift Valley, the song seeks to incite and excite dangerous passions that could well set the ground for renewed hostilities.

This is not to say that the unresolved conflict should not be tabled for discussion — far from it. However, such a delicate subject should be approached in a sober and reflective atmosphere, not the rabble rousing of jingoistic demagoguery.

It may be true, as publicly demonstrated by some of Mr Ruto’s more excitable supporters, that the threat of violence in the Rift Valley is often employed to enforce adherence to the pact.

Such threats are also dangerous and highly inflammatory but by no means provide justification for equally objectionable reactions.

The import of the whole saga, however, is the proof it offers that the Uhuru-Ruto pact was a monumental fraud. Amity that is dependant on two individuals getting along and sharing Kenya as if it were personal real estate is not a peace but merely an uneasy ceasefire that will unravel as soon as the two have the slightest misunderstanding.

What Kenya needs is a genuine national dialogue, not temporary pacts delivered out of short-sighted political convenience.

The Uhuru-Ruto pact, in that regard, is no more sustainable than all the short-lived alliances and parties that have served as mere special purpose electoral vehicles since the return of multi-party politics.

FANNING TENSION

Even the new move blamed for fanning tension and suspicion within Jubilee — the Building Bridges initiative between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga — will achieve nothing as long as it is grounded on repairing political relations between the two individuals, or their families and communities.

Kenya’s serious challenges and threats — especially around ethnic exclusion and competition for power, wealth and resources — will never be resolved by self-seeking alliances built largely around the interests of ethnic kingpins. The unravelling of Jubilee is a powerful reminder.

Meanwhile, as Mr Ruto’s supporters rightfully cry foul over Hatuna Deni, let them step back and think of the hypocrisy on display.

The hate-mongering they perfected, targeting opposition leaders at the last elections, is now being turned against them. Frankenstein invariably turns on its master.


Why Africa needs climate finance the most

By ZEPH KIVUNGI
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The past few weeks were historic in the emerging sector of climate finance.

On June 23-29, Green Environment Fund (GEF) held the Sixth GEF Assembly in Vietnam. The GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

It has since provided over $17.9 billion (Sh1.8 trillion)in grants and mobilised $93.2 billion in co-financing for over 450 projects in 170 countries.

One of these challenges is climate change. The Da Nang, meeting paved the way for its seventh funding cycle, GEF-7.

During the same week, July 1-5, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) — the most capitalised, hence largest, international environment fund (focused on climate change) — had historic events.

The 20th quarterly GCF board meeting (B.20) was held in the Korean smart city of Songdo.

CHANGING CLIMATE

The board approves applications for funding to safeguard sectors and economies from adverse effects of a changing climate.

A third fund, also created under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) like GCF and GEF, has committed $477 million in 76 countries since 2010.

Why climate finance? Climate is actually changing. Farmers are devastated by either too much or insufficient rain. Countries can’t feed themselves as crops and livestock fail. New diseases are developing and old ones spreading to new locations.

Developing or least developed countries (including all African states) need to factor in the elusive climate risks. Kenya spent an unplanned Sh245.3 billion last year on food imports following a severe drought.

This year, it faced the worst floods in 60 years, according to the Climate Change Resource Centre. What follows is famine because crops were destroyed, while the ruined infrastructure will cost a fortunes to repair.

These resources would have gone to other development needs but have to be diverted to tackle these climate events and effects, leaving a big gap in financing vital national development areas.

So, climate change directly sabotages development. This financing gap is filled by climate finance.

The GCF is valued at $13 billion. Applications for financial support can be made to the fund. For instance, most African states depend immensely on rain-fed agriculture.

The 2016 Climate Change Exposure Index (CCEI) by Verisk Maplecroft, a risk analytics firm, show that relying on rainfall posed “high” or “extreme” risks — up to 85 per cent.

ECONOMIC SHOCKS

That means economic shocks. Countries may, therefore, miss the sustainable development goals and national aspirations.

The GCF has 76 projects under implementation valued at $1.4 billion, with only 28 (36.8 per cent) of them in Africa.

GCF lays strong emphasis on direct access entities — local institutions accredited to help a country to directly access its resources. There is just a handful in Africa so far.

Mr Kivungi is a senior programme officer at the Africa Sustainability Centre (ASCENT). [email protected]


State pumps Sh145m to revive key mango processing plant

By STEPHEN ODUOR
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Mango farmers in Tana River County have a reason to smile as Coast Development Authority (CDA) plans to revive the Galole Integrated Fruit Processing Plant.

Addressing the Press in Hola, CDA Managing Director Mohamed Keinan said the government has allocated Sh145 million to revive the plant and expand its production capacity.

He said the plant, which was manually operated, will be fully automated, with plans underway to install bigger machines compared to the previous one.

“We are revamping not only production capacity but also the speed to achieve both quality and quantity for better revenues, “he said.

This is expected to see the plant produce 12,000 tonnes of pulp per year, compared to the earlier machines that produced a mere 2,880 tonnes annually.

The machines that initially operated two lines, a pulpier and a juice line, will also be expanded to start processing honey and pure drinking water.

MANGO PRODUCTION

Dr Keinan called on farmers to double mango production to sustain the machines, saying the equipment will require a lot of mangoes to crush.

 He said the project failed due to the manual nature of machines which affected the quality and quantity of the products, consequently affecting revenue due to inefficiencies.

“The machines were not fit for the huge yield it was fed. This affected the quality and quantity of production and hence we could not meet the target revenues, bearing in mind that the plant always broke down and had to be repaired, ” he explained.

Stalled fruit processing factory in Borji,Fruit processing factory in Borji, Tana River County. The government has allocated Sh145 million to revive the plant. PHOTO | STEPHEN ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP

But the farmers told Dr Keinan that despite the fact that the facility will be a boost for them, the capacity to be installed is not enough to process their yield.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Mr Khalif Bahola, a fruit farmers cooperative representative, said their mango produce currently stood at 30,000 megatonne per year, urging CDA to put up plants at the Tana Delta and Tana North as well. He assured the authority that the plants will witness a surfeit.

FEEDING COMPANIES

 “We have been feeding companies in Mombasa County, Makueni and Nairobi, and we are still left with a lot of produce rotting in our stores and farms. We dare you to set up two more companies and see what we can offer,” he said.

The mango processing plant was first installed in 2014 became a white elephant just after a year of operations. The plant saw production of exceptionally sweet juice that residents still testify to date.

According to Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana, politics from the previous regime and mismanagement were the main reasons for the plant’s failure.

The closure of the plant saw 30,000 farmers left at the mercy of exploitative middlemen, who bought their mangoes at Sh2 per fruit, sending a majority of the farmers to street mango vending and juice blending.

BACK TO BUSINESS

With the current development, the 30,000 mango farmers from Lamu, Tana River and Kilifi counties will be back to business.

At least 2,000 farmers are set to be trained on good agricultural practices.

About 80 residents will gain from direct employment, 25 as permanent staff and 30 casuals, while another 1,500 will be integrated indirectly.

The project is set to enhance the rural and family economies, as well as improve household purchasing power.

The main product will be pulp, packed especially for local and export markets.


Sonko's clean-up Saturday plan will fail if approached casually

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s announcement that the city’s public toilets will be accessible by all free of charge cannot go unchallenged.

The roadside declaration lacked details of the sustainability of the plan. Before the toilets were privatised, they were in a pathetic state of neglect and had degenerated into unspeakable filth and veritable dens of muggers and street families. But they were relatively clean under private-public management.

It is under Mr Sonko’s watch that toilet politics re-emerged, leading to the closure of the facilities for months after an ill-advised take-over bid flopped, compromising public sanitation and subjecting residents and visitors alike to much suffering.

This makes the governor’s declaration suspect. It could have been prompted by a malicious desire to hit back at the investors who frustrated his move to throw them out of the lucrative business and hand it to his acolytes.

Though plausible, reverting the toilets to the county should be approached with caution as, lately, service delivery, for instance keeping the city clean, has disproportionately worsened.

James Murimi, Kwale.

Those running the city toilets won tenders before they were allowed to operate them. They employ salaried cleaners who are paid from the Sh10 paid per each individual public user.

These toilets are fairly clean compared to the free ones run by the city council. So, as Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko promises free toilets, let him maintain the staff and improve their salary.

He should also ensure reliable water supply to the toilets, instal cisterns and re-roof them with transparent sheets for lighting.

Robert Musamali, Nairobi.

The move by the Nairobi governor to nudge residents to a clean-up of the city on the first Saturday of the month is good.

I do not live here; so I will not participate in the clean-up. While in Kigali, I also was not expected to participate in the monthly communal cleaning, umuganda.

Githuku Mungai, Nairobi.

Governor Sonko is building castles in the air when he says his “free public toilets decision is irreversible”. The toilets will become hideouts for criminals.

Sonko should first manage the “flying toilets” scattered all over Nairobi in paper bags.

JUSTIN N. NKARANGA, Mombasa.

Governor Sonko cannot manage anything, especially a big city like Nairobi, using PR stunts and roadside pronouncements.

Chriss Akali, Kakamega.

I support 100 per cent Sonko’s city clean-up campaign. However, stern action should be taken against some Nairobi residents who are fond of littering.

Henry Adongo Omoro, Nairobi.