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Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

 

Homeowners can now enjoy 15pc tax relief

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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By STELLA CHERONO
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday signed into law a bill allowing a 15 per cent tax relief for Kenyans buying houses under the Affordable Housing Scheme.

This kick-starts Jubilee Party’s ambitious plan to build 500,000 houses by 2022.

President Kenyatta has listed affordable housing, universal health coverage, increasing manufacturing share to 15 per cent of the gross domestic product, and enhancing Kenya’s ability to feed itself, as part of the Big Four agenda for his second term.

The tax relief at 15 per cent of gross emoluments will be extended to Kenyans aspiring to buy homes under the scheme, but will not exceed Sh108,000 per year.

“The threshold for real estate development entitlement for the 15 per cent corporate relief has been lowered from 400 units to 100 units, so as to enable cooperatives to benefit from the new measure,” President Kenyatta had said of the plan last month.

150,000 NEW HOUSES

Estimates show that out of the 150,000 new housing units required each year in urban areas, only 35,000 were completed.

Cooperative societies, estimated at 23,000, had by 2017, raised Sh1 trillion in savings and had Sh700 billion worth of assets, and will gain from a clause that allows Kenyans to benefit from sacco mortgages.

By end of last year, 800 housing societies had Sh8 billion in savings and had constructed 10,000 houses, a figure expected to increase.

The amendment to the Income Tax Act, signed on Wednesday, also includes the introduction of a compensation tax for power producers under an agreement.

The President also signed into law an amendment to the Stamp Duty Act to exempt first-time home buyers under the scheme from stamp duty.

VALUE ADDED TAX

Further, Mr Kenyatta approved amendments to the Value Added Tax Act to effect zero rating of ordinary bread, copra, linseeds and mustard seeds. The law also zero rates inputs or raw materials for electric accumulators and separators.

“The aim of the amendment is to support the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four Agenda by making manufacturing of the items, especially batteries, cheaper,” State House said in a statement.

The move comes barely a day after the Head of State directed the Interior ministry to provide a comprehensive policy framework to address the problem of housing in the National Police Service.

The President gave Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet 30 days to come up with recommendations to improve efficiency in the police service.

He said the government will continue with the ongoing investments in the police service.


State, counties at odds over leased medical equipment after cost rises

By ANGELA OKETCH
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A fresh row is brewing between counties and the national government over medical equipment worth Sh38billion that were leased to the regional governments.

This is after governors protested what they termed as an arbitrary increase on the equipment from Sh4.5 billion to Sh9 billion.

Each county will now be paying Sh200million from the previous agreement of Sh97.7 million.

The multi-billion-shilling medical equipment leasing plan launched in February 2015 was to meet the country’s need for accessible and affordable specialised healthcare. It came with the promise of bringing specialised healthcare services closer to the people.

The equipment was distributed in 98 hospitals countrywide. The leasing was for a period of seven years.

The Council of Governors Health Committee Chairman Mohammed Kuti said the increased amount of leasing was going to mess up the whole programme.

“The counties used to pay a collective Sh4.5 billion, which the government has increased to Sh9 billion. We don’t understand why the payment has doubled,” said Dr Kuti.

He said they were seeking answers and hoping that they would not have to pay more for equipment that some counties do not even need or use. Health Principal Secretary, Mr Peter Tum, however, said the increase was informed by the need to buy additional equipment as a result of an increase in demand by more hospitals.

98 HOSPITALS

“Through the project, Kenyans have prompt access to state of the art diagnostic and patient care equipment and specialised services uninterrupted. The fully-fledged low-cost diagnostic centres, screening and treatment facilities have been established in 98 hospitals to enable persons with chronic to easily access services at the grassroots level to decongest national referral hospitals,” Dr Tum said.

Dr Tum said there was also a need to network the equipment through a healthcare information technology for the improvement of efficiency and utilisation of the MES equipment in public hospitals. Dr Kuti questioned why counties were not consulted if there was an increase in demand.

Counties got kidney dialysis machines, ultrasounds, state-of-the-art theatre facilities, intensive care units (ICU), incinerators, sterilising units complete with surgical sets and an assorted cancer treatment machines.

He said most of the equipment were lying idle because the supplier never fulfilled their part of the deal. Based on the contract signed between the national government and the counties, the suppliers of the equipment were to train personnel, maintain and repair any break down which Dr Kuti said they had failed to do.

The selected manufacturers were charged with the responsibility of installing the medical equipment in county hospitals and ensuring that they work optimally. The government was left with the responsibility of ensuring that they pay them for the services delivered by the equipment.

TECHNICIANS

The five international companies that won the MES tender included General Electric (GE) from the USA, Philips from the Netherlands, Bellco SRL from Italy, Esteem from India and Mindray Biomedical of China.

They were responsible for training technicians and biomedical engineers on how to handle the medical equipment.

Mindray Company won the tender for supplying theatre equipment and General Electric won the tender of supplying cancer and radiology equipment.


Let’s tap underground water with caution

By ISAIAH ESIPISU
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The governor of Nairobi County has embarked on making city residents’ lives more bearable and one of his action plans is to drill boreholes to supplement water supply from the now-unpredictable Ndakaini Dam.

However, Mr Mike Sonko is not the only one thinking of boreholes. With the devolved government many people have moved to the counties, putting pressure on groundwater for development, industrial use, irrigation agriculture, domestic use and many other uses.

Investing in groundwater is, therefore, the right thing, given that it is often safer than surface water. But experts have noted a problem: We are exploiting the groundwater resource and yet we do not really know how much we have or fully understand the nature and geometry of the aquifers.

SUSTAINABILTY

We also don’t fully understand how these underground reservoirs replenish during the rainy season and behave during different climatic conditions and, so, we risk depleting or destroying them soon.

Prof Daniel Olago, a senior geologist at the University of Nairobi, reckons that “we do not know what we have, because we have not done adequate studies on groundwater”.

In their County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP), counties have groundwater exploration as a major component. But they only talk about drilling and developing groundwater systems without underlining the need to study and understand those systems to know their limits of sustainability.

As Governor Sonko plans to commission the project as announced during the first Nairobi Cleanliness Day, he should look at the city’s groundwater potential.

HYDROLOGISTS

In the late 1950s, say World Bank reports, groundwater in Nairobi was accessed at just 80 metres. By the mid ’90s, the depth had almost doubled to 140 metres. In the next century, it should be even deeper — perhaps more than 200 metres.

With the increasing population and, hence, demand for water, the situation is bound to worsen in the near future. That means Nairobi is literally chasing water downwards, and that is not sustainable. Hydrologists also say the water table has retreated in the flower-growing areas of Naivasha and Nanyuki.

But there is hope. Counties should exploit the ongoing scientific research under a programme that seeks to unlock the potential of groundwater for the poor.

For the past two years, scientists from the University of Nairobi, Oxford University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and also University of Barcelona have been studying the groundwater system in Kwale County.

ABSTRACTION

Using a computer programme, the scientists will flag risks associated with groundwater quantity and quality based on hydro-meteorological, hydro-geological, water abstraction demand and socio-economic data.

The scientists have mapped out aquifers that provide water to Kwale and traced the source to two paleochannels — buried river channels. They have ascertained the water quantity and quality in the aquifers and given it a clean bill of health.

But they have flagged a major risk associated with the paleochannels that constitute the Msambweni aquifer: If water is over-abstracted from the reservoir, there is a high possibility of intrusion of salt water from the sea, which can ruin the aquifer even after it replenishes.

The regulator should issue borehole sinking permits depending on user needs and monitor the amount of water that can be abstracted from particular sources in a given season.

Mr Esipisu is a freelance journalist and the coordinator for Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC). [email protected]


We are in Nasa to stay, says Musalia Mudavadi

By BENSON AMADALA
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By PATRICK LANG’AT
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Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi on Wednesday came to the defence of his brainchild, the troubled National Super Alliance (Nasa), pleading with his co-principals not to desert it following publicised disagreements over its future.

Mr Mudavadi, who introduced Nasa into the political fold, before it was accepted by opposition leader Raila Odinga, and later by Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya, said the coalition was not “dead” as claimed by Mr Wetang’ula.

Issuing a reconciliatory call, Mr Mudavadi warned that if Nasa were to collapse, Kenyans’ faith in democracy and the Opposition would be undermined.

“If we continue quarrelling as the opposition, we will end up breaking the hearts of our supporters and weaken the opposition and undermine our democratic gains,” said Mr Mudavadi at Malinya Stadium in Ikolomani on Wednesday.

NEXT ELECTIONS

“Nasa is my brainchild and I am determined to do everything possible to ensure it remains intact and is strengthened as we focus on preparations for the next elections in 2022,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Mr Wetang’ula had on Monday termed the coalition “history which cannot be repeated,” an issue that angered Mr Odinga’s ODM, which asked Ford Kenya to relinquish all parliamentary and House leadership positions.

Mr Mudavadi said none of the parties which formed Nasa had formally written to the Registrar of Political Parties asking to be removed from the coalition.

He said the country required a strong opposition to check the excesses of the government in power and added that despite the wrangles triggered by the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, Nasa was “alive and well.”

He said he was exploring ways of resolving the misunderstanding in the coalition and was keen on rebuilding Nasa to form a formidable opposition.

DISSOLVING COALITION

“In truth, writing formally to the registrar of political parties and notifying the members is the only legal way of killing or dissolving a coalition. Yet in Kenya’s decade-long history of coalitions, parties routinely change form, dissolve, oppose or join others long before they actually do,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Within Nasa itself, politicians from separate Nasa member parties have dared each other in public, with Mr Mudavadi’s own party yesterday threatening to stop funding the coalition.

ANC Parliamentary group chairman Ayub Savula yesterday said the party will today have a meeting to ratify a decision to withhold contribution of funds to Nasa and instead channel them to the ANC secretariat.

“Nasa is a vehicle that has stalled, but it still has the logbook. So we will retain the logbook by having it remain only a coalition in documents, but we will not fuel it. We will re-route the funds we give them to rebrand our own parties,” Mr Savula said on the telephone.


Yet another feather in the cap for Major General Fatumah Ahmed

By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Something stands out about Major General Fatumah Ahmed. It is her strong personality.

Her clarity of thought. It is the fact that, when she is delighted, she does not restrain herself from bursting into a good laugh—and she occasionally likes to indulge in laughter.

It is also the fact that, her animated demeanour belies an unshakeable military discipline and fierce loyalty to her country.

When she was appointed Major General by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the reorganisation of the Kenya Defence Forces last week, the new appointment was not only a personal triumph but also an incredible conquest for Kenyan women in public service.

Maj-Gen Ahmed, 54, is a woman of several firsts. In 2015, she became the first woman to be appointed Brigadier, the fourth highest rank in the hierarchy of the KDF.

On Friday, she broke the glass ceiling yet again to become the first female Major General in the country’s history. This new role, complete with two stars, is the third highest rank in KDF’s structure of power.

EYEING PROMOTION

During an exclusive interview with the Nation, Maj-Gen Ahmed admitted that, while she was eyeing a promotion, she did not expect it to be this soon or to come in this fashion –it was a pleasant surprise.

She joined the military in 1983 aged only 19, and has spent virtually all her adult life in the service, rising through different ranks and capacities.

Her appointment came as a reward for a remarkable journey of 35 years in the service, where resilience and commitment have defined her work.

“I was born and raised in Meru County. I joined the military after completing my O-levels. Those days, the role of women in the KDF was mild and indirect under the Women Service Corps. Women then were performing mostly clerical work and other support duties,” she said.

The Women Service Corps was dissolved in 1999 and women reintegrated into the three services of Kenya Army, Kenya Navy and Kenya Air Force. This paved way for women to be deployed to the mainstream military services including training and operations.

THREE CHILDREN
A mother of three children aged between 15 and 30, Maj-Gen Ahmed argues that women’s appointment to top position of leadership should not be based merely on observing the two-thirds gender rule, but mostly on the fact that they have the capacity to make significant contributions to the country.

To her, planning and discipline acquired in the military is what has enabled her to navigate the often slippery family-work balance with considerable ease.

“I have mastered the art of careful balancing, such that none of my roles falls through the cracks. Service in the military is about discipline, focus and commitment. I have to demonstrate my qualities of a leader, a family woman and a professional at all times.”

According to her, badge, rank and her senior role in the military hold almost no sway at home: “At home, I’m a wife and a mother. I have to spend quality time with my family and to perform different responsibilities expected of me as a family woman.”

RELIGIOUS RITUALS
“My last born daughter is in Form One. At 15, she is at a critical stage in her life where she requires guidance and constant assurances. Despite my stiff schedule at work, I endeavour to do this whenever she is at home during school holidays,” she said.

She describes herself as an avid dancer, and when time allows, she likes to experiment with different cuisines. Hanging out with young women and mentoring them also features in her list of hobbies.

Maj Gen Fatumah reveals that her compact work schedule scarcely gets in the way of her religious rituals, which she observes fervently.

“I pray five times a day as Islam requires of me. I may be too held down by work, but I have to create time for this critical element of my religion,” she said.

She considers terrorism retrogressive, and emphasises that religion should not be used as an excuse for any form of destruction and barbarism.

MILITARY TRAINING

Besides her military training, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainable Human Resource Development from Tangaza University, a constituent college of Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA).

She is currently undertaking her Masters in Social Transformation (management) at the same institution. To her, duty and loyalty to country come first.

“My family understands the nature of my job. When duty calls, they know I have to fulfil whatever responsibility there is without failure. This understanding and support is what has helped to come this far,” she says.
She said that working under various commanders at various levels of the military service has been her main source of motivation.


Use innovative, climate-smart agriculture for food security

By PETER WARUTERE
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Kenya is one of the leading milk producers in Africa but the performance of the local dairy industry needs to be enhanced by fixing weaknesses in the milk value chain.

The country’s global ranking in milk production is impressive in only one respect — the population of dairy cows. It has the sixth largest number of dairy cows, according to a report by Compassion in World Farming, a United Kingdom charity. India leads with 43.6 million dairy cows, or 16.5 per cent, followed by Brazil, Sudan, China and Pakistan.

Kenya’s dairy cow population is 9.35 million, or 3.5 per cent of the world total. These statistics are a few years old but the trend most likely hasn’t changed much.

Kenya fails the score of how much these dairy animals produce and the average yield per cow.

LACTATION PERIOD

While the world achieves an annual average of 2,200 litres per cow, Kenya’s average is reported as 1,000 litres per cow or just over three litres a day during a normal lactation period.

The top performers such as Israel and Saudi Arabia achieve an annual average of over 10,000 litres per cow.

The game changer for the developed nations is adoption of climate smart agriculture and innovation.

In Netherlands, for instance, which produces an average of 7,200 litres per cow, modern dairy farming techniques adopted by climate smart farms are paying huge dividends.

On a visit to Netherlands last week, one of the leading dairy farms, Landleven in Waarder, demonstrated how innovation and energy neutral technologies have rapidly scaled up efficiency in dairy farming.

Two brothers, Adrie and Bert Vollering, manage 220 dairy cows on 100 hectares of land without any workers. They achieve an average of 9,500 litres of milk per cow a year or 28 litres a day—with the best cows producing 40-50 litres a day.

AUTOMATED SYSTEMS

Automated systems controlled from computers and mobile apps feed the cows, milk them, monitor their movements and clean the cow sheds.

The cows choose when to be milked, induced by milk pressure and concentrates provided during milking.

Intelligent robots milk the cows and if a cow walks into the milking shed just to eat the concentrates when it’s not ready for milking, the system fails to engage and the cow moves on.

The lesson for Kenya from the Netherlands experience is simple. Improving the efficiency of dairy farming is an important building block to food and nutrition security.

Moving up the dairy value chain would raise Kenya’s output closer to the world average, give dairy farmers higher incomes and increase food and nutrition to consumers at competitive prices.

Fixing inefficiencies in the farm model won’t be easy considering that unlike Netherlands and the Western world where farming is commercialized under a few large-scale farmers, over 90 percent of Kenya’s national milk output is produced by over 1.8 million smallholder dairy farmers.

TECHNOLOGY

This limits the extent to which they can invest in technology to improve their value chains, unless assisted with technical and financial support.

The other problem is how the milk is delivered to consumers. While in Netherlands over 90 percent of the milk is processed and marketed through formal market outlets, over 80 percent of Kenya’s milk is sold raw on the farms and in informal markets. Only 400-600 million litres out of 3-4 billion litres a year are delivered to milk processing firms.

This breeds a serious problem of contamination of raw milk during handling from the farm to the consumers.

Better management of the dairy industry, by providing incentives to farmers to adopt technology and deliver their produce to processing factories, would expand the growth of the dairy sector and expand job opportunities.

PROCESSED MILK

The sector contributes 4.5 percent to Kenya’s gross domestic product, according to a 2014 market report by the Ministry of Agriculture, together with Kenya Dairy Board, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and agencies supporting the sector. It can do better and contribute more to manufacturing value added.

Increasing supply and consumption of processed milk would improve food and nutrition. It would contribute to food safety and better health outcomes by reducing illnesses that are caused by consumption of contaminated milk.

Mr Warutere is a director of Mashariki Investments Ltd, [email protected] The Netherlands experience is from a tour sponsored by the Netherlands Government through its Embassy in Nairobi, in partnership with Netherlands Enterprise Agency


The African airlines that’ll win are those that aren’t too posh

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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Recent years have been brutal for African airlines but, in spite of that, there is a new rush to resurrect dead national carriers (in Uganda) or to put bedridden ones in the air again (in Tanzania).

However, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s biggest and currently most successful airline, is kind of going in the opposite direction.

A few weeks ago, Addis Ababa announced that the airline would be partially privatised and, recently, it shelved plans to create a fleet of smaller aircraft because uptick in demand suggests that the routes where they’d be flown would be better served using larger planes.

SPECIAL DEMANDS

Ethiopian also announced that it was in discussions with the Nigerian government for a new national carrier and planned to buy a slice of Eritrean Airlines as the diplomatic thaw between the two neighbouring countries continues.

It’s not clear whether we shall see a new era of African aviation but there is one thing the airlines on the continent are not doing.

African nationalists and activists never tire of speaking about “African solutions for African problems”. But we have never heard about “African airlines for African peculiar flying habits”.

It might well be that having airlines that are built around the special demands of Africa’s unique flying habits is where the magic is.

PRECIOUS GOODS

If you’ve flown often out of the busier west European airports, and the United Arab Emirates, you will have seen this scene a couple of times: An African businessman or woman (often from West Africa) would have bought half a shop of goods in Dubai and, having checked in five massive bags and paid for extra baggage, wants to take in three big suitcases as carry-on baggage.

Of course, the check-in clerk says no, and your African trader gets angry and throws a tantrum. Screaming and alleging racism against African travellers, he or she holds up the check-in queue. Security is called and soon there is an even louder argument, and a scuffle.

All this happens primarily because the traders know that if they don’t travel with their precious goods and send them ahead or later after them, their bags will be opened and the fruits of their hard work stolen. They, therefore, don’t want to let their shopping out of their sight.

M-PESA MOMENT

This is a real problem, but no African airline has ever seriously tried to address it.

It would seem, then, that the continent’s aviation industry needs an “M-Pesa or Equity Bank moment” — an innovation that is different from the so-called “global standard” and is tailored for our special demands.

What might an ‘airline for Africa’s special flying needs’ look like?

If I were asked to do it, on the routes where traders fly, I would get rid of the front-facing seating. I would redesign the passenger cabin so that travellers sit like soldiers in military transport.

I would then remove half the rows and create open lockers for medium-sized cargo. A trader who has bought 10 suitcases of shoes and clothes would sit with her cargo in the locker infront of her, so she can keep a watchful eye on it.

NO PILFERAGE

They would pay a premium for that service.

I would also change the way bags are delivered from the plane to the carousel.

I would sell a pass to traders who travel from Dubai or Shenzhen with their goods that would allow them to be present when it is being offloaded, then sit on the back of the tractor when the luggage is being carried to the conveyor belt, all to ensure that there is no pilferage.

It’s not neat, and might even look desperate, but a lot of good could come out of it. We will avoid those scenes at airports of West African traders threatening to strip naked because they haven’t been allowed to carry in 100 kilos as hand luggage.

DEBT-RIDDEN

It would also help to reduce the losses traders suffer from being robbed at airports, and would create for the airlines more traders who are happy to pay a premium for the privilege.

I, myself, wouldn’t fly “trader class” but I suspect the first African airline that will have the courage to introduce such a service would have a lot of money falling out of its ears.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Debt-ridden South African Airways was recently reported to be leasing out its pilots to other airlines to avoid having to lay them off, and in the process save itself.

Though the stories didn’t clarify it, they suggested that SAA would get a cut from the arrangement.

It’s all a little strange but those are the things that could help to keep the lights on.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is the publisher of Africapedia.com and explainer Roguechiefs.com. [email protected]


Story based on a parliamentary committee report cast NLC badly

I wish to comment on the stories on pages 4 and 5 of the Daily Nation of July 9.

The impression created is that LR No. 7879/4 does not belong to Afrison Import and Export Ltd and Hueland Limited, but nothing is farther from the truth. The title deed shows who the true owners f the land, in Ruaraka, are.
Secondly, the National Land Commission did not violate the law when it decided to pay compensation as required by the regime of compulsory acquisition.

Article 40(3) of the Constitution provides a clear road map on compensation and there is nothing in the parliamentary report to show that it was violated. The process of procedure that Parliament has raised can be dealt with in a manner that should not impute ill motive on any one party.

Afrison and Hueland have been made victims of bad publicity and wrong conclusions.

SWINDLE PUBLIC FUNDS

The owners of the land in question are not involved in any scheme to “fleece and swindle public funds” as alleged and any conclusion in that direction can only be termed as misconceived and not based on any verifiable evidence.

The report by Parliament’s Committee on Land is, in my well-considered view, cogent when it comes to the findings and its conclusions as to who the owners of the property are.

Indeed, as postulated by your writer, it is in many respects a well-measured, incisive and hard-nosed defence of public interest as well as private rights that cannot, in any event, be vitiated by procedural lapses pointed out by the parliamentary committee, albeit not agreeable to me.

The public interest allegedly being defended was not about who owns the land but procedure. The mere presence of primary and secondary school structures cannot justify the property being declared as public land.

PRIVATE LAND

The truth of the matter is that it is private land, a freehold at that, belonging to known entities and whose rights have been and continue to be violated by not so well-grounded comments and publications, which run contrary to Article 40 of the Constitution. The true position is set out in recommendation number 8 by the parliamentary committee.

The right to acquire and own property by the registered owners of LR No. 7879/4 has been violated and dragged through the mud unjustifiably.

PARLIMENTARY REPORT

The history of ownership could easily have been established at the Lands Office in Nairobi. The ownership of the property is clearly vindicated in Paragraph 21 of the parliamentary report.

The report ignores, and has run roughshod over, the Constitutional and statutory roles of the NLC. There was, therefore, a need for the Nation to carry out an independent investigation before running a news item that is solely tailored on it — on matters of procedure of acquisition of private land. It is a short-sighted action and exposes the concerned commission unduly.

MOSES KURGAT, advocate of the High Court of Kenya.


We’re victims too, says Solai dam owner

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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The owner of the ill-fated Solai dam, which collapsed on May 9, killing 47 people and injuring hundreds of others, yesterday sought to absolve himself from blame over the tragedy and, instead, portrayed himself as a victim.

Mr Perry Mansukh, General Manager of Patel Coffee Estates, declared that the deaths of the 47 people had drained him emotionally and “saddened him tremendously.”

“We are the victims and not the perpetrators (of the dam collapse). The deaths hit us extremely hard as the affected community is dear to me,” he said when he appeared before the ad hoc committee of the Senate that is investigating the accident.

LEGITIMATE VICTIMS

Mr Mansukh, who is facing manslaughter charges over the deaths, told the committee chaired by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr that the collapse was caused by massive deforestation “in other people’s farms” and by people farming on the hills overlooking the dam.

However, the assertion by Mr Mansukh angered committee members, who challenged him to demonstrate his love for the people and explain what he had done to help the community recover from the harrowing events.

Nominated Senator Sylvia Kassanga challenged him to explain whether he had visited victims of the tragedy and what he had done to alleviate their suffering. She also asked him to explain whether he made attempts to confirm the names in the list submitted to him as legitimate victims.

NOT LICENSED

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja  accused Mr Mansukh of having no respect for the laws of the land and challenged him to provide proof that commercial activities he carries out on his farm were duly approved through the necessary licensing regime.

“How is the law dear to you?” Mr Sakaja asked, in what appeared to be a jibe directed at Mr Mansukh’s assertion that the people of Solai and the environment were dear to him.

“Your claim that all your activities have been licensed is contested by various government agencies,” he said, and asked Mr Mansukh to provide proof that his dam was licensed. When Water CS Simon Chelugui appeared before the committee, he said that the collapsed dam was an illegal structure as it was not licensed.

RESTRICTED ACCESS

Mr Sakaja further asked Mr Mansukh to confirm whether he had compensated the victims of the tragedy and if he had asked them to sign indemnity forms that protected him from criminal liability. Mr Mansukh denied claims that he had already compensated the affected families but said that being part of the Solai community, he had offered a token of goodwill as a gesture to help the families restore their immediate requirement.

Officials of National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), National Construction Authority (NCA) and Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) have separately told the committee that the owners of the land had restricted access which had hampered their ability to perform their mandates.

Warma also accused Mr Mansukh of blocking two rivers on the farm and diverting water to the seven dams on the farm.


MPs told tax evaders used Sony Sugar Company

By DAVID MWERE
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The acting managing director of Sony Sugar Company Limited Bernard Otieno now says that the company was used by some private entities to evade Sh2.5 billion import duty during last year’s sugar importation into the country.

The national assembly committees investigating the alleged presence into the country of contraband sugar, heard on Wednesday that M/s Holbud Limited used Sony to import 50,500 metric tonnes of the commodity worth Sh3.5 billion.

“We were looking to get some money. We did not spend anything as they financed everything in the importation of the commodity,” Mr Otieno said even as he confessed that he never saw the sugar.

DUTY FREE SUGAR
On September 29, 2017, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Rotich issued a gazette notice No. 9801 allowing importation of sugar duty- free by local millers until December 31. The notice was an extension of the 4,536 notice, which had expired on August 31.

On Tuesday, Kenya Bureau of Standards acting Managing Director Dr Moses Ikiara told the two committees of Agriculture and Livestock and that of Trade and Cooperatives co-chaired by Mandera South MP Adan Ali and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega that Sony was paid Sh82 million in agency fee that was used to pay farmers and other suppliers.

BLACKLISTED

The directors of Holbud Limited are said to be the same as those of Stuntwave Limited, which brought in 13,375 metric tonnes, Hydrey (P) 186,070 metric tonnes and One Commodity limited 37, 650 metric tonnes. Stuntwave limited is one of the companies that were blacklisted in the importation of sugar by the 11th Parliament.

Similarly, the go downs of One Commodity Limited were never inspected when the committee members were in Mombasa for the field visit with claims that the sugar was dumped on the ground.

Mr Otieno did not produce the importation permit from the directorate of sugar despite the members’ insistence.