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Monday, July 30th, 2018

 

Diminishing training threatens development of technical manpower

Developed countries, having discovered the impact of science and technology, have invested heavily in technical training. Unlike the developing world, the education system in advanced economies is highly inclined towards technical education.

The diminishing presence of technical training in Kenya is threatening the development of technical manpower. More technical institutes are being transformed into universities.

I laud the Kenya Technical Teachers Training College for resisting the temptation to upgrade to university status.

KTTC has carved a niche for itself as a technical institution of choice, particularly for training trainers. The college can be equated to an oasis of technical training in a sea of universities.

Kenya Science Teachers Training College, Mombasa Polytechnic, Machakos Technical Training Institute and Kenya Polytechnic, among others, have fallen to the allure of the university wave.

Due to the upgrading, the country now has an acute shortage of technical manpower.

Kenya Utalii College is highly regarded for its programmes. Its skills-based training ranks high in the industry.

Just like KTTC, Utalii should consolidate its position as a hospitality and tourism training institution of choice through strengthening the practical hands-on training. All efforts must be made to retain the nature of training at the premier hotel and hospitality school.

BERNARD AMAYA, Nairobi.


Chandarana takes action on staff who sent out racist email

By COLLINS OMULO
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Chandarana Foodplus Supermarket has instituted disciplinary action against its staff, who sent out a racist promotion email, sparking outrage from Kenyans.

This comes even as the supermarket chain continues to operate despite Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s call to have it’s licence revoked.

Trouble started after Ms Rima Patel, a staff, sent out an email to the supermarket managers on its new promotion policy saying the food chain was now focusing on white people in their promotions.

The email kicked off a storm on social media.

The food chain’s director Dipan Thakkar said they have since started disciplinary action against the staff, who authored the discriminatory promotion, as one of the steps aimed at addressing the matter conclusively.

“We would like to take this earliest opportunity to assure your government that in addition to the apology released to the public on Saturday, the management has commenced disciplinary process on the employee,” read a letter addressed to Governor Sonko.

PROFILED CUSTOMERS

Mr Thakkar acknowledged that the promotion inadvertently profiled some of their customers, but he reiterated that the supermarket, which has 13 branches countrywide, values every customer regardless of their race, age or gender.

He added that the food chain is one of the leading employers in the country with 1, 246 employees, of which only 3 per cent are expatriates.

“Besides, we source all our merchandise from over 2, 500 suppliers, 95 per cent of them local companies and individuals. We have operated professionally since inception and strive to enhance our relations with employees, customers and authorities,” he said.

On Saturday, Chandarana Foodplus supermarket apologised after the email they circulated to their managers on how to attract white customers went viral.

The email sent by Ms Patel, who the retailer said is a recent hire in its marketing department, asked managers to target white shoppers with gift vouchers.

FREE VOUCHERS

“We are delighted to inform you that our supermarket chain would like to give you free vouchers to winner/raffles/best performer/runners up candidate in upcoming events. As we are now focusing on white people to attract our supermarkets,” part of the email read.

The supermarket management said the mistake was inexcusable and an embarrassment adding that the email does not “reflect” on the chain’s values, insisting they have been serving all the Kenyan demographics over the last 50 years.

LICENCE REVOKED

The email drew Mr Sonko’s ire who directed that all the branches in Nairobi be closed consequently and its license be revoked but on Monday the various outlets of the supermarket were operational.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, however, said that the license for the food chain should not be revoked as it will only lead to more job losses saying that instead the governor should charge the supermarket’s management for the mistake.

 “When you cancel licenses it will only lead to loss of more jobs. let them be charged for the mistake but not being closed,” said Mr Sakaja.


Mpeketoni picks up the pieces after terror attack

By EUNICE MURATHE
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I was in the company of a cameraman, photojournalist and social workers in Lamu County for the better part of last week.

We had earlier like most of the travellers landed at Manda Airport, rode on a motorboat and booked rooms in Shela island.

There was a week-long itinerary which included visits to various parts of the county.

Our first three days were spent between Lamu town and Shela Island where most of the offices and hotels are located. The town is famed for its simplicity and looks safer than most places I have been to.

Residents expressed hopes that the high season would increase tourist traffic which had been affected by the 2011 kidnapping of an elderly British tourist.

Hoteliers also talked of how domestic tourists thronged the antique destination. Clerics and Sheikhs told of their efforts to preach peace, integration and unity to the diverse community.

ATTACKS REDUCED

On Wednesday, we talked about our next day’s visit to Mpeketoni through Lamu-Garsen road. In a reassuring tone, everyone said the area is safe and attacks have reduced; thanks to the multi-agency security operation.

But, I was not convinced. The anxiety was aggravated by friends and family who kept calling worried about my security.

Mpeketoni town, lies on the mainland some 30 kilometers southwest of Lamu island. You take a boat to Mokowe where you board a vehicle.

On your way there are several shopping centres which include Hindi, Ndeu, Milihoi, Kibaoni and then Mpeketoni. In 2014, Al-Shabaab attacked Hindi and either hacked to death or fatally shot the residents.

Milihoi is also a notorious terror hotspot where hordes of security officers and civilians, including the former Public Works PS Mariam El Maawy, her niece and four bodyguards lost their lives in Al-Shabaab attacks in 2017.

A General service Unit camp has since been set up near the area. But few things reminisce of the attacks.

THREAT OF ATTACKS

People go about their businesses as if ignoring the threat of attacks. Farmers plough their land, some preparing for late season planting. In some farms by the road side, the green maize is ready for harvest.

School going children stare and happily wave at our vehicle. Probox vehicles ferry passengers from Mpeketoni to Hindi and back. There are other travellers too who use the buses that ply the route.

Security agencies man the road and require travelers to alight from vehicles, produce national identification cards and be frisked at the roadblocks. Our driver also showed us spots of previous attacks.

At Mpeketoni, we spent the whole day documenting success stories. We also visited Lake Kenyatta. The weather was calm. Everything went as planned.

The dreaded happened about forty minutes past two on our way back to Lamu when we reached Mkunumbi Primary school.

A group of about six police officers were debating in hushed tones outside the school’s gate. Before we could go further, a speeding Probox arrived. As soon as it stopped, a woman short of breath jumped out of the car, sat on the murram road narrating how a few minutes ago, they narrowly escaped attack by suspected militants.

“They have commandeered the road. Do not go that side. You will die,” shouted the woman who was in black veil (buibui) as she wept in shock.

Other public service vehicles and personal ones joined in as the passengers talked on how they had turned back on their way to Hindi after seeing the militants at Milihoi.

Fear, panic and uncertainty was written on everyone’s face. I can still remember how fast my heart beat at that time. We stayed at the spot for almost ten minutes. Two police vehicles later escorted the convoy through the terror hotspot.

The poor state of the road force vehicles to move slowly making them an easy target. The bush has grown tall following the heavy rains that pondered the Coast region in the past two months.

At the scene, heavy smoke emanated from the two burnt vehicles. Security officers from the Kenya Defence Forces, GSU and regular police were at the scene.

Everyone was dressed in body armour and helmet. A well-built officer held on to a huge gun mounted on the roof of a car.

GUNS ARE COCKED

You know it is a battle scene when all guns are cocked and pointed to the thicket. The security personnel alert.

The attackers had burnt down a police Land Cruiser and a civilian car whose occupants escaped. They also killed one police officer and injured two others.

The incident happened at 2.45pm. At this moment, I realised that were it not for the five minutes unplanned snacking stopover at a bakery in Mpeketoni, we would have been the one to face the militants.

We stopped for a while. The officers took cover in the bushes during the time before we were later allowed to continue with our journey under heavy escort to Hindi.

I was only at peace when I got back to Lamu town.

Three days past, I still ask myself. What would have happened to me? Would they have spared us?

I remember, crouching between seats and vowing never to go back to the area where we had a first-hand experience of the heightened war against Al-Shabaab.


Win for NTV as court reverses Sh5m award to Jakoyo Midiwo

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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The Court of Appeal has reversed a Sh5 million award to former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, who accused NTV of defaming him 14 years ago.

According to the court, Mr Midiwo overstretched the meaning of the words he claimed to be defamatory.

“The meaning and interpretation given to the word ‘lady’ is out of place and context. The respondent supported extraneous matters into a plain and ordinary word and gave it, his own meaning and interpretation. We think… the meaning and interpretation of the words complained of were overstretched,” Justices William Ouko, Mohammed Warsame and Otieno-Odek said yesterday.

Mr Midiwo said the words published by NTV on February 13, 2004 injured character as a family man.

He added that the words were actuated by malice and their publishing embarrassed him.

Whereas NTV admitted publishing and airing the information, it did not agree with Mr Midiwo’s interpretation.

Through its lawyer Guto Mogere, NTV owners Nation Media Group, maintained that the words and accompanying images were true.

Justice Abida Ali-Aroni had awarded Mr Midiwo Sh5 million.

Mr Mogere faulted the High Court for failing to distinguish between innuendo and the ordinary meaning of the words. He added that the award was excessive.

The lawyer maintained that the publication was based on actual events and was not driven by malice.

Mr Charles Billy Oduor, the manager of Mamba Hotel, agreed that there was a commotion between Mr Midiwo and four men who were eventually thrown out of the establishment.

Mr Midiwo corroborated the claims when he reported the incident at the police.

NMG said there was evidence of a commotion and that it was out of the brawl that the publication was made.

The judges said it is common knowledge that Mr Midiwo was at the hotel with his bodyguards and that there was some confrontation on the night of Valentine’s Day.

“In view of this evidence, nothing turns on the complaint that what took place was no brawl. It is also a matter of fact that those who confronted the respondent were shouting ‘Koinange, Koinange Street or K Street’,” the court said.


Judiciary on the spot over Sh6.6bn projects

By SAMWEL OWINO
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The Auditor-General has raised questions over various construction projects of the Judiciary spread across the country, which have stalled despite payments having been made to contractors.

In his latest report tabled in Parliament for the year ended June 30, 2017, Mr Edward Ouko has expressed concern that the public may not get value for money for the projects.

He points out that in some instances, payment made by the Judiciary to contractors exceeds the value of work done. In other circumstances, contractors were overpaid.

As at June 2017, the Judiciary had on its roll 55 construction projects valued at Sh6, 661,092,518.90 across the country.

Twenty eight were funded by the World Bank and 27 by the government.

NAKURU LAW COURTS

In the construction of Nakuru Law Courts, physical verification of the facilities indicate the work done by the time of the audit is 65 per cent while the contractor has already been paid Sh274, 402,054, representing 79 per cent of the total cost.

“It was not clear why payments exceeded the value of work done. Also, no explanation was provided on why the project stalled the contract period having expired on August 18, 2017,” reads the report. “Further delay in completion of the project is costly to the tax payers,” says Mr Ouko.

In the construction of Eldama Ravine Law Courts, the reports points out that the Judiciary overpaid the contractor by Sh4, 370,819, which should have been withheld as tax as required under the government procedures.

OVERPAYMENT

“The management has not explained the overpayment of Sh4, 370,819 or failure to produce the Authority to Incur Expenditure documents for audit review. In the circumstances, the propriety and value for money for the payments totalling Sh72, 493,943 made to the contractor cannot be confirmed,” reads the report.

For Hamisi Law Court, the project is 85 per cent complete, but the Judiciary has already paid 95 per cent of the total cost.

According to the report, Siaya Law Courts project has also stalled and the management has failed to provide justification for the delay.

Mr Ouko has warned that the cost of construction of Narok Law Courts may escalate after the management failed to approve sub-contracting works for mechanical and electrical works.


Retired judge Philip Ransley sought over Sh152m theft

By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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A retired judge is being sought by Interpol for extradition to Kenya over the theft of Sh152 million from a client.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has been ordered to trace and serve Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley, who has since relocated to the United Kingdom, with summons to appear before the lawyers’ disciplinary tribunal to answer to charges of stealing client’s money.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi also issued warrants of arrest against the judge following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The warrants will be executed by the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).

EXPUNGED NAME

Meanwhile, a managing partner in one of the country’s oldest law firms has been exonerated from blame in the deal.

Three members of the tribunal — Mr Ezekiel Wanjama, Ms Grace Okumu and Ms Gladys Wamaitha — expunged the name of Ms Virginia Wangui Shaw of Ransley McVicker & Shaw Advocates from the proceedings, saying she was not responsible for the loss of Mr John Rowland Minns’ money, which had been deposited to the law firm’s clients account held at the Imperial Bank in 2015.

PAY THE MONEY

The tribunal allowed the consent entered between Ms Shaw and Mr Minns’ lawyer that Mr Ransley be pursued personally to pay the money.

The judge and Mr Minns were friends for 40 years. The money was from the sale of Minns’ land in Karen, Nairobi.

The court directed LSK to appear before it on November 12, 2018 to explain the alternative method it will use to serve Justice Ransley with the proceedings.


Remove barriers to trade and investment

By EDITORIAL
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Kenya’s position as a regional trade hub is the subject of a high-level discussion this week in Nairobi.

And this is important because dynamics change fast and with far-reaching ramifications, hence the imperative for constant reviews and interrogation of the prevailing environment.

At the centre of the ongoing Kenya Trade Week and Expo is the question: Is the country competitive enough to attract new investments and create more wealth?

Available evidence demonstrates that major steps have been made in making ours a preferred destination for investment.

The latest report on the doing business index by the World Bank last year ranked Kenya 80th among the 190 countries surveyed, a major leap from the previous year when it was 92nd.

CHANGED LAWS

Part of the improvement has arisen from the revision of trade laws and policies, eliminating restrictions and unnecessary hurdles that blocked investment.

But, as experts and business gurus note, the path towards prosperity is still paved with thorns. Concerns are being expressed about the fact that despite changed laws, with devolution, other legal and policy bottlenecks have emerged.

That counties have enacted laws that go against national policies or add layers to restrictions already imposed by the central government.

For example, some counties have sought to introduce levies for goods passing through their jurisdiction, on top of what the national government charges, hence creating double taxation and raising the cost of doing business.

REMOVE BARRIERS

Monday, Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya made a commitment to a review and harmonisation of the laws to ease business.

The private sector and foreign investors must be encouraged to invest in our economy; it is the surest way of creating jobs and wealth.

And it is significant that the Council of Governors be deeply involved in the conference. They should listen keenly and take appropriate actions to eliminate those superficial barriers.

Investors also complained of difficulties in starting new businesses and high cost of utilities such as water and electricity and whose supply is even unreliable.

But even more striking is the concern that although the government has publicly declared intent to promote small- and middle-level enterprises by giving them business, the vendors are hardly paid.

LOANS FOR WOMEN

The national and county governments owe traders huge sums of money, pushing most of them to bankruptcy.

Loans for women and youth have not been helpful either.

We are encouraged about the conference because it offers a chance to showcase what Kenya’s industrial and business sectors have to offer.

It should go deeper and rally commitment to creating appropriate legal, administrative, policy and infrastructural changes to ease doing business.


Stop work permit cheats

By EDITORIAL
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The recent crackdown on foreigners working in the country illegally, in which thousands of suspects were arrested, has confirmed the need to streamline the issuance of work permits.

Whereas only 35,000 permits were found to have been issued through the proper channels, conservative estimates indicate that up to 100,000 foreigners could be beneficiaries of illegal recruitment.

What this means is that some unscrupulous people or cartels are denying Kenyans opportunities they deserve and handing them to out to foreigners.

During the swoop led by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, it was also established that some crooked officials issue the permits to unqualified foreigners for a Sh100,000 bribe.

PROPER DOCUMENTS

We fully support the Immigration Department’s efforts to get all the foreigners working in Kenya to regularise their stay by obtaining proper documents.

They were last month given 60 days to do this, failure to which they will be arrested and deported.

It’s quite possible that thousands could have escaped the dragnet, and are hoping that the vigilance will be relaxed so they can resume their operations.

While it’s true that like any other country, Kenya needs foreigners with skills that are not readily available, these must be properly recruited and registered.

SEMI-SKILLED FOREIGNERS

This calls for strict monitoring so that the country is not flooded with semi-skilled foreigners locking Kenyans out of jobs at a time when youth unemployment is a huge challenge.

With the rampant corruption, the problem cannot be totally eradicated. This is why we laud CS Matiang’i’s announcement that foreigners seeking Kenyan work permits will now have to apply for them in their own country, and only come over once they are approved.

It will make it easier to vet the arrivals at the point of entry and ensure that they only take up jobs that it has been confirmed are available.


Backing Ochillo Ayacko for Migori seat works against ODM

By BARACK ODUOR
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By ELISHA OTIENO
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On a sunny Monday afternoon in July, ODM leader Raila Odinga called on stage Migori Governor Okoth Obado and his nemesis Ochillo Ayacko. A handshake followed and they both, reluctantly, announced they had buried the hatchet.

The occasion on July 9 was the burial of Mr Ben Oluoch, who had been the Migori senator. The implication was that it provided an opportunity for the ODM leader to pacify two rivals whose contest was punctuated with violence in the last General Election.

That bid of convincing Mr Ayacko to drop the petition against Mr Obado in exchange for readmission into ODM and run as a candidate for the Senate, could have unified these rivals.

Instead, it split the party further.

Last week, ODM confirmed that Mr Ayacko would run on its ticket when the by-election comes up in October. But the first opponent to that decision was Mr Obado.

POPULAR PARTY

Nominations for the most popular party in Nyanza have previously been marred with claims of irregularities with the ODM Chairman John Mbadi admitting this time around the method used was also not the best. But he cites lack of funds, and the direction issued by Mr Odinga.

Last week, the party went for direct nomination ostensibly after a survey by Infotrak showed Mr Ayacko is the most popular contender.

“All the aspirants knew we would issue a direct ticket because we held a meeting with them over the matter,” Mr Mbadi told a crowd in Ndhiwa on Sunday.

He argued the party needed Sh30 million to conduct the nominations through universal suffrage, which it couldn’t get on short notice and that there was fear of violence.

“Why are we bringing trouble even after Mr Odinga brokered a truce between Mr Ayacko and the governor? Those opposing Mr Odinga will meet us on the ground,” said Mr Mbadi.

SUPREMACY BATTLE

In a way, mistrust, supremacy battle and positioning for the 2022 General Election is responsible for the continued rivalry between the Mr Obado and the former minister.

The county chief is keen on who will succeed him and Mr Ayacko is not among his options.

He told journalists some of the ODM leaders attacking him now did not back him at the last election despite that fact that he was an Orange party candidate.

“They campaigned for my opponent (Mr Ayacko), who stood as an Independent then and they have not been disciplined by the party. I will not be intimidated,” he said. “Nobody is more special than the other in the Orange party. This impunity and double standards should not be allowed in the party.”

STILL WANT TO RUN

The governor served his first term on a PDP ticket, profiting from divisions within ODM and the fact that PDP was an ally of Cord. Last year he joined ODM.

The move by ODM has also disenfranchised other seasoned politicians.

Former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and former Nyatike legislator Edick Anyanga had eyed the post. They said they were disappointed and insisted they still want to run.

Yesterday, several Migori leaders issued a joint statement, saying they support the nominations. They included Mr Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Tom Odege (Nyatike) and Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Pamela Odhiambo (woman representative).


Promised government focus on police reforms a welcome gesture

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently assured the nation of his government’s commitment to ensuring reforms to boost the welfare of police officers and guarantee Kenyans an accountable and effective National Police Service (NPS).

The reforms include new National Police Service Standing Orders; career progression guidelines and basic training curriculum; access to basic housing; and improved general welfare.

Further, the government, through constitutionally mandated agencies, is to ensure provision of group life insurance cover, better housing and improvement of salaries and remunerations for the officers.

Failure to pay attention to police reforms vis-a-vis welfare has, over the years, been identified as a key contributor to low morale, misconduct by officers and vices such as corruption that have sullied the image of the security agencies.

The 2010 Constitution, which created the NPS and, subsequently, the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa), was considered the harbinger of policing reforms in the country, placing the citizen at the centre of the security and policing front.

DECENT HOUSING

Huge strides have been made in the service, including the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police and the creation of bodies such as the NPSC and the Ipoa. Policy reviews and recommendations have been made towards ensuring that the lives of officers are taken care. That is bound to ensure a citizen-centric police service.

Decent housing, insurance, suitable equipment and various payments for officers are among comprehensive recommendations made by the Ipoa.

However, there is a need to re-examine efficiency within the security system to identify and seal points of capacity leakages in accountability, eliminate wastage and ensure prudent utilisation of public resources.

To this end, the government has increased its investment in NPS from Sh53.6 billion in 2013 to Sh97.6 billion in the current financial year. Kenyans expect positive returns for their taxes.

It is my hope, as a Kenyan, that the government, through the NPSC, will give priority to police welfare within the broad security sector reforms.

NYASANI MBAKA, Nairobi.

The envisaged reforms in the police service should include not only inner reform of values but also their outer appearance.

I propose that the Kenya Police uniform gets a makeover. The one in use feels and looks colonial and is not fit for the 21st Century.

Further, police stations are dilapidated and dirty and need to look modern and friendly.

Kenyan clothing designers can be contracted to overhaul the look and image of the police to fit the modern age.

MATHEW MWANGI, Nairobi.