Main Menu

Monday, August 27th, 2018


New wave of crime as thieves use sedatives before night break-ins

More by this Author

Kisumu residents have raised alarm over a new wave of crime where criminals use sedatives before breaking into houses.

The burglary, coupled with rising insecurity in the lake side city is worrying residents who have now petitioned the security authorities to step up hunt for the criminals.

Through their umbrella body, Kisumu City Residents Voice, they want the police to investigate claims that criminals were now using anaesthetic drugs to sedate unsuspecting residents.

The lobby group chairman Audi Ogada lamented that crime rate had soared in the city.

“You have also noticed that just in the last three Weeks, five suspects have been lynched by members of the public because they feel police are doing little to combat crime,” Mr Ogada said.


He called on police bosses in Nyanza region led by regional boss Leonard Katana to intervene and help reduce the rising crime wave.

Dr James Obondi, an Orthopaedic surgeon at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) on Sunday told the Nation the criminals were obtaining some anaesthetic drugs through the backdoor for the illegal use.

“The most popular one they use is halothane that is used as an anaesthesia in theatre. It is a volatile drug that evaporates and causes sedation especially in closed door,” Dr Obondi said.

He went on: “The sale of the drug is usually restricted but some unscrupulous people may be selling them to criminals over the counter. If used in excess, they cause liver toxicity.”


The criminals are said to spray the rooms using the drugs, before breaking in despite houses being inhabited. They steal at their comfort.

On Sunday, Nation Media Group photographer Tonny Omondi was the latest casualty of the brazen theft: “I covered the Safaricom Twaweza concert on Saturday night and was driven home safely. Unfortunately, when I woke up, I realised the thugs broke into my house using the kitchen window. They stole my gas cooker, camera and photography accessories,” he said.

Kisumu OCPD Meshack Kiptum said that nature of crime was common in Mamboleo and Ogango estates.

“We have launched probe to establish who are behind such crime,” Mr Kiptum said.

Peer learning option by governors prudent

More by this Author

Governors have often been faulted for numerous foreign trips in the guise of experiential learning. The disquiet emanates from the fact that no serious learning ever takes place in those trips; hardly have we seen governors implementing what they learnt. These have become channels for spending public resources.

Indeed, the practice was so abused that foreign embassies based in Nairobi issued an alarm, stating that their countries were fatigued by the frequent exposure visits by Kenyan delegations, which also involved MPs and Members of County Assemblies.

This time round, the governors have thought differently. They have convened a peer learning summit in Makueni County, whose governor, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, has stood out in his efforts to actualise the devolution dream. This should be encouraged.


We acknowledge that the initial years of devolution have been challenging. Legal, policy and administrative structures were non-existent. Stiff competition between the national and county governments ensued as the former resisted the dramatic change marked by dispersal of powers from the centre to the grassroots.

Governors, MCAs and county administrators found themselves with enormous powers and resources and, in the absence of proper structures, went on a spending spree.

Corruption, which was hitherto predominant at the national level, shifted to the counties.

Though there were high expectations that devolution would change the fortunes of counties, which it did to a discernible extent, disillusionment also set it over the excesses in the management of resources. Corruption, nepotism, clannism and intra-county differences emerged and thrived.


Even so, we still argue that, despite the setbacks, the county system is an idea whose time has come and, all factors held constant, it has taken development to the people.

The move by governors to opt for learning from one another is commendable. As already canvassed, several good things are happening all over the country through devolution. They may not be grand but are, nonetheless, worth recognising and emulating.

To a large extent, governors stand to benefit more from neighbours and peers because they face similar challenges, for which solutions can be shared or replicated. Arising from this initiative, MCAs should also follow suit and, in case of seeking learning experience, visit counties that have performed relatively well.

The solutions to most of our problems can be generated locally. We have to start looking inward to deal with our development challenges and diminish the thought that people must always go out there to excel. We have to encourage more inter-county activities, including trade and investments, to make devolution work.

Vet foreigners in tourism

More by this Author

Tourism is not only a major source of revenue for the economy but it also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. Official statistics show the tourism industry supports 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs, or nearly 10 per cent of Kenya’s employment.

However, the sector has been under siege in recent years with declining tourist arrival numbers. With the number of travellers from the traditional Western markets reducing for various reasons, including the threat of global terrorism, China has lately emerged as a potential market that needs to be tapped.

And the Kenyan tourism and travel industry has wasted no time in aggressively wooing visitors from the East.


China is the fifth-biggest global source of tourists for Kenya and the second-biggest market in Asia.

But as more and more Chinese visit Kenya, some of their compatriots are also seeking a piece of cake through greater engagement in the industry. And there is nothing wrong with foreigners investing in our tourism to expand it and create more opportunities. However, their role needs to be streamlined to avoid conflicts.

Already, there is an outcry by tour drivers and guides about an alleged Chinese invasion of their turf.


This would not arise if the rules and regulations governing employment in Kenya were strictly applied.

The key principle is that foreigners should not be given jobs for which the skills are available locally.

The tour drive and guide jobs are not highly skilled and, therefore, there is hardly any justification for hiring foreigners.

The Immigration Department has clear criteria for issuing work permits and it would be interesting to hear the justification for hiring foreigners as tour drivers and guides.

The ongoing crackdown on illegal aliens should cover every sector, including tourism.

Ministry of Health all set to regulate drug prices

More by this Author

The Ministry of Health plans to draft a policy that will regulate the price of essential medicines.

If the schedule is implemented, the cost of drugs and treatment would be the same across Kenya.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki on Monday said county governments would have to adhere to the prices set for drugs and non-pharmaceutical products.

“The county governments we have talked to are happy with the idea,” the minister said.

She added that pharmaceutical firms would not be allowed to go against the price ceiling.


Ms Kariuki made reference to the recent Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission report, which showed a huge variation in what counties charge for the same drugs and treatment.

She said devolved governments would have to set up a committee on pricing of the services and medicine “for the benefit of Kenyans”.

“The EACC report, exposed systemic weaknesses in the procurement and dispensing stages of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies in the public sector,” she said.

“This denies many Kenyans access to quality, affordable medical products and services.”

The CS, who was speaking at Swiss Lenana Mount Hotel during the launch of the rapid result initiative on post-marketing surveillance of medicines, said the 100-day exercise would help address some of the problems mentioned in the report.

According to the EACC findings, Kenyans are paying as much as 5,000 per cent more for medicines and treatment in public hospitals.

An operation on the bladder, for example, can cost Sh7,500 for cash-paying patients, but the price shoots to Sh90,000 for those using National Hospital Insurance Fund and other cards.

The report said counties which buy drugs from Kenya Medical Supplies Agency at a subsidised fee increase prices by astronomical margins.

When Kemsa delivers the drugs, the devolved governments are allowed to increase prices by no more than 20 per cent, to cover distribution costs.

That, however, has not been the case.


For instance, H. pylori bacterial infection dose consisting of 14 tablets of 500mg clarithromycin, 1mg amoxicillin and 30mg lansoprazole, is sold at Kemsa for Sh840, while it goes for Sh1,300 at Coast General Hospital. At Nakuru Level Five Hospital, it is sold for Sh2,400.

Ms Kariuki said the ministry would also visit public and private hospitals countrywide to assess the quality of drugs.

Residents of areas close to borders miss opportunities for lack of IDs

More by this Author
More by this Author

Mr John Lokomer, 70, does not have a national identity card. And it is not for lack of trying. The resident of Illeret town in Marsabit County is one of the many people in the region who do not have the crucial document.

As a result, they are locked out of school, jobs, banking, telecommunication, and even key government services like the welfare programme for the elderly.

Strict vetting, the long distances they have to travel to get the document and complacence on the part of the registrar make it difficult for the local people to get the crucial document.

In fact, in the last General Election, only 800 people turned out to vote for the ward rep because the rest did not have IDs.

The Registrar of Person’s office is in North Horr town, over 300 kilometres from Illeret. There are no regular public service vehicles and due to the bad roads, the journey can take up to six hours

“We are treated like foreigners. I even travelled 300 kilometres to get the document but their application forms had run out,” says Mr Lokomer.


The situation is complicated by the Dassanech’s nomadic lifestyle.

“They keep coming here to take our photos while others take our details but we end up waiting for years. Since most of us are pastoralists, we are always on move, searching for pasture so when they come back, they might also not find us here,” he adds.

Less than a kilometre away, we meet James Moroto. He completed secondary school in 2015 and has been applying for an ID since but still does not have one. He had to forfeit a scholarship because he did not have an ID.

“I have missed several opportunities just because I don’t have an identity card, which the government should provide,” he says, flashing two waiting cards.


Illeret Ward MCA James Korie Haile, who got only 800 votes in the last election, says: “There are almost three times that number of eligible voters but they do not have IDs.”

He says it is frustrating getting help for his people, adding that the elderly cannot benefit from government-sponsored projects like the cash-transfer programme.

“The elderly from my ward seem to be lesser Kenyans, young people cannot access higher education programmes, and the worst of all is that most people cannot enjoy their democratic right to vote,” he says.

He adds that, since they are a minority in the county, he acts as the overall leader of the area since they are at the mercy of other communities. “I am the President, I am the MCA, I am the MP, I am the Woman Rep but here on the ground I can’t do anything because there are MPs from rival communities,” he says.

Meanwhile North Horr OCPD Joel Chebii, a member of identity card vetting committee, maintains that registration of persons in Illeret has been consistent, and that those complaining are isolated cases. But he adds that since the area chief, who helps in the vetting, has retired, the residents will have to wait for some time. “Once they get a new chief, he will help us vet them since they border Ethiopia,” he says. 

Spurs run riot to pile more misery on Mourinho's Red Devils

More by this Author


Manchester United slumped to a second consecutive defeat on Monday to intensify the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho as Harry Kane and a Lucas Moura double moved Tottenham joint top of the Premier League with 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

United now trail Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea by six points and stand four adrift of champions Manchester City just three games into the new campaign.

The odds on Mourinho losing his job have been slashed in recent weeks as he has clashed with the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over a lack of signings.

Mourinho’s anger at not being given the funds to boost his centre-back options was exacerbated by the poor showing of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof in a disastrous defensive showing at Brighton last weekend.

Both paid for that performance by being dropped as Mourinho made six changes in all, although Alexis Sanchez was still left on the bench.

After a week in which Mourinho’s ability to turn the tide of negativity at Old Trafford was severely questioned, the Portuguese at least summoned a response from his players for the opening 45 minutes.

United, though, were left to rue a series of missed chances by Romelu Lukaku before Spurs took control with two goals in two minutes just after the break.

Manchester UnitedManchester United’s English defender Chris Smalling (left) and midfielder Paul Pogba react after Tottenham’s third goal during their English Premier League football match at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 27, 2018. PHOTO | OLI SCARFF | AFP

Lukaku’s biggest chance came after 15 minutes when Danny Rose’s short passback put the Belgian clean through on goal, but, after rounding Hugo Lloris, Lukaku pulled his shot wide of the far post.

Lloris was then equal to a tame left-footed effort by the United number nine before Lukaku headed wide his third opening of the half.

Tottenham hadn’t even scored in losing on their four previous trips to Old Trafford under Mauricio Pochettino.


Yet, the Argentine’s half-time words of wisdom made a huge difference as Spurs came out a different side after the break.

David de Gea had already denied Kane and Dele Alli had seen a goalbound effort deflected wide by the time Kane rose highest from Kieran Tripper’s corner to loop a header into the net.

Lloris maintained his place in the side and the captain’s armband despite being arrested for drink driving in the early hours of Friday.

And Pochettino’s faith in his skipper was rewarded when Lloris denied Lukaku again with a brilliant save to keep Spurs in front.

A minute later, they doubled their advantage when Christian Eriksen’s cross was swept home by Lucas.

Mourinho encroached onto the pitch to bellow encouragement to his charges. But the damage had already been done and the final reckoning could have been even more embarrassing for the hosts.

Lindelof, on for the injured Jones, was handed a reprieve when De Gea denied Alli after a short back pass by the Swede before Kane headed wide when unmarked from another corner.

Lucas did rub salt into United wounds six minutes from time when he outpaced Lindelof before firing into the far corner.

Mourinho was goaded with chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” by the travelling Tottenham fans.

Woodward is not expected to bite the bullet quite so soon. But with United already facing an uphill battle just to make the top four nevermind challenge for the title, time is running out for Mourinho to get the 20-time champions of England back on track.

Uhuru fired jab at Trump on his way to USA, en route to China

More by this Author

President Uhuru Kenyatta did something most unusual for a Kenyan leader: He pinched the nose of another president — a big, bad, ugly, tempestuous creature — just before entering his lair.

By the time you read this, President Kenyatta should have left the White House and headed home after talks with US President Donald Trump.

He will make it just in time to host British Prime Minister Theresa May on her maiden trip to the country that gave the young Princess Elizabeth a tree to climb, from which she came down as the Queen.

He will still be jet-lagged as he packs his bags for another back-breaking journey to the other side of the globe for an engagement with China’s President Xi Jinping.

Other than padding his frequent-flyer miles, meeting three powerful global leaders within a matter of days indicates President Kenyatta’s willingness to engage on the international stage and also his quest for support from all sides as spendthrift policies threaten to send the Kenyan economy into free-fall.


Just before his departure on Saturday, President Kenyatta implicitly criticised President Trump’s protectionist policies that have seen the US pull out of numerous multilateral agreements and launch trade wars with ally and foe alike.

That was provocative. The US president is over-sensitive to slights, real or imagined. He has a well-earned notoriety for shooting from the hip in uncontrolled Twitter tirades.

There was no telling how President Trump would react, whether by tweet or face-to-face, once he got wind of President Kenyatta’s comments.

That he did not immediately fire off unrestrained broadsides probably means the American leader never got wind of what his Kenyan counterpart he was getting set to host — only the second African leader to rate a White House audience since he took office at the beginning of last year — said.


President Kenyatta may have taken a calculated risk in tweaking Mr Trump’s nose just before departing for the US. If he was travelling with begging bowl in hand, chances are, he would be met by an often-irrational host who gives little regard to diplomatic niceties and does not conceal his disdain for Africa.

During his entire presidential campaign, Mr Trump did not make any mention of his Africa policy — except in passing, on the continent as just a staging post for the US anti-terrorism efforts in the Middle East.

Any public references to Africa were in the negative, depicting it as a beggarly continent that under his regime, would no longer be a beneficiary of US development aid or preferential trade pacts such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

If Mr Trump has ever made reference to Kenya, it was in his false pre-campaign assertions that his predecessor, Barack Obama, was born in Kenya, the land of his father, which would have made him ineligible to run for US president. After the election, his most famous reference to Africa was in the outrageous ‘shithole’ slur.


Now he has hosted not just an important African leader, but the President of Mr Obama’s ancestral land. And it came on the back of what must have been President Kenyatta’s very deliberate denunciation of new US isolationism — remarkable from the leader of a country known for ‘wait and see’ foreign policy.

When the US controversially relocated its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, Kenya was among a handful of countries that played truant at the United Nations as a solid majority, save for America’s vassal states, voted against it.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs described Kenya’s missing out on the vote simply as affirmation of long-standing polices against taking sides on single-issue disputes. But it was more likely fear of US threats.

Kenya also remained silent on President Trump’s ‘shithole’ comments — unlike a good number of African countries that also assert leadership at the regional and continental levels, who summoned US envoys to make clear their displeasure.


President Kenyatta’s remarks were made in an interview with the Chinese Global Television Network, so they were most likely missed by Mr Trump.

And the choice of channel might be significant, given that he echoed a position that has become the central message in a China propaganda blitz launched in reaction to US tariffs.

China has been trumpeting (no pun intended) its free trade credential in contrast to President Trump’s protectionist regime.

President Kenyatta is heading to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) summit in Beijing, a gathering that demonstrates how China is displacing the US and Western Europe as Africa’s premier trade and development partner. Looks like his message to Mr Trump was, “If you don’t respect and support us, we have options”.

Now, we hope our President did not exit the White House on his knees.

Imports hinder manufacturing growth

More by this Author

The recent investigative report by Parliament that has been described as shoddy and the vote to turn a blind eye to alleged irregular sugar imports was unfortunate but predictable.

As other commentators have stated, this will simply give more leverage to sugar import cartels. More importantly, it will kill the little that was left of the local sugar industry.

Time and again, Parliament and other government agencies have inadvertently, sometimes even deliberately, killed local industries by the policies that they allow.

It started in the 1980s, when Kenya liberalised its economy, allowing all manner imports. This led to the collapse of the cotton, leather and sisal industries because, as young industries, they could not compete in the global market.

Since 2008, a year after the inception of Vision 2030’s industrialising policy, the manufacturing sector has stagnated at 0.8 per cent while imports have increased, resulting in a negative trade balance.


A negative trade balance is experienced when the amount and value of imports is much more than exports. To mitigate this problem for the developing economies, tariffs are necessary. A tariff is a tax imposed on imported goods with the aim of generating government revenues and protecting the domestic market.

However, the World Bank promotes the neo-liberal economic theory that advocates free trade without protectionism.

But while it is true that free trade can promote growth, it only benefits countries that have high technological products that are globally competitive. For developing economies, free trade actually hurts them.


The evidence from the rich industrialised countries shows that their economic transformation was initially not through free trade but State-led policies that regulated imports while promoting locally manufactured products for export.

In his book, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang, an economics professor and former World Bank employee, argues that most countries — such as the Asian Tigers and, more recently, China — have industrialised through State-guided policies that identified local manufacturers, provided credit, nurtured and protected them through tariffs and subsidies until the industries could compete globally.

The so-called miracle of the Asian Tigers’ industrialisation that occurred within a generation was, in fact, a well-designed State-led strategy.

South Korea, for example, had a strict policy against importation of luxury goods. The government only allowed machinery and raw materials essential for manufacturing, to give their products time to mature and be able to compete in the global market.


Another example is the Japanese Toyota car, which was protected for 30 years. Britain and the United States, some of the earlier industrialists, used protectionist policies for over 100 years.

In fact, the American War of Independence was, essentially, in revolt against British products being imported into the US.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and even large government enterprises such as the National Youth service (NYS), if well-managed, can spur industrialisation.

However, they need government intervention through policies that promote locally manufactured products while protecting them during their infancy until they are globally competitive.

During this infant stage, the government is supposed to promote local consumption of their products, even if they are of lower quality, as no country has ever fully industrialised through consumption of imported goods.


Of course, applying protectionist policies goes against fair trade policies instituted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, how fair is global trade when WTO rules favour free trade where rich countries are stronger, such as in high technological products, but not where they are weak, such as agricultural products?

Free trade demands that poor countries open their markets to competition in areas that they are weak in and they will surely be wiped out due to lower quality and higher production costs.

If Kenya is serious about industrialising, it must take radical steps and develop economic policies that are in its interest and use its bigger market to negotiate better in the global trade to grow its manufacturing sector and create the much-needed jobs.

Uhuru, Trump agree to improve trade and security

More by this Author

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his US counterpart Donald Trump have agreed to bolster tourism, trade relations and improve security, especially in the Horn of Africa.

Speaking on Monday during a bilateral meeting at the White House, President Kenyatta said the US has been instrumental in the fight against terrorism and seeks to partner with it in streamlining other sectors.

“We have had very strong and excellent cooperation with the US in security and defence, especially in the fight against terrorism. Most importantly, we are here looking to enhance our partnership in trade and investment,” President Kenyatta said in Washington, DC.


President Trump said Kenya and the US will continue to work together to grow their partnerships in trade, investments and security.

“We do a lot of tourism; we do a lot of trade and defence. And we are working very hard to improve security right now. We appreciate very much your being with us here,” President Trump said.

They cited the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) as one of the key initiatives whose effect will be enhanced through the milestone.

President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret were formally received by Mr Trump and his wife Melania at the White House in Washington, DC at 2.00pm (9pm in Nairobi).

After discussions in the Oval Office, they were joined by their delegations for bilateral talks in the Cabinet Room.


The First ladies also held talks in the Diplomatic Reception Room in the West Wing of the White House.

President Kenyatta is now the second African leader to be invited by President Trump after Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari in April this year.

Earlier, Mr Kenyatta had met businesspeople and under the umbrella body Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), and signed investment deals worth billions of shillings.

He boosted their confidence to invest in Kenya to help him achieve the ‘Big Four’ development agenda.

Time to fight rising adolescent pregnancies

More by this Author

Over the years, just before the national examinations, we get to hear of schoolgirls who are either pregnant or have babies. This elicits discussions on girls sitting their exams in hospital or even the school with the highest number of pregnant students.

Sadly, we rarely investigate the matter and the oft-repeated occurrence remains a puzzle and leads to blame games.

A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report on adolescent and teenage pregnancies in Kenya shows 378,397 girls aged 10 to 19 got pregnant between July 2016 and June this year. Some 28,932 girls aged 10-14 got pregnant, same as 349,465 in age 15-19.

Of the 47 counties, Narok had the highest rate of teenage pregnancies at 40 per cent, followed by Homa Bay (33) and Tana River (28).


In Kenya, a 10-14-year-old girl is in Standard Five to Eight. These are still children; sadly, they are having children, hence “child parents” or “children bringing up children”.

This data reinforces the recent news about a group of primary school pupils caught engaging in sexual activities.

I grew up in a society where every child belonged to the society and a stranger could discipline you and report you to your parents. Sexual activities were “tabia mbaya” (bad manners), to be avoided at all costs. But times have changed; with technological advancements, more freedoms and rights for children, we all mind our own business.

How can the society delay the age of sexual debut? What leads to teenage pregnancies?

Based on perceptions and arguments that I have heard, teenage pregnancies have been attributed to poverty; people argue that the girls engage in “transitional” sex to meet basic needs.

Others blame “absentee parents”, or lack of parental guidance, and exposure to information on the internet, which can lead to curiosity.


Yet others say these are “mature minors” who consented to sex and, lastly, the problem is attributed to “some people” taking advantage of the innocence of the girls.

The bottom line is that we are having far too many adolescent and teenage mothers, a trend that should be changed.

But how can we avert teenage pregnancies? I believe, it is time we strongly supported age-appropriate sexuality education at all levels — from our families, schools and even places of worship. We all need to be on the same page on age-appropriate sexuality and the information we are giving out.

It is also time to acknowledge that we have many cases of defilement leading to pregnancies that the society looks at as “the girl consented to sex”. When the girl in question is a minor, the case needs to be investigated.


Lastly, it might be time to acknowledge that, when all is said and done, we will still have teenagers who require contraceptives. This is a discussion that is long overdue.

Psychologist James C. Dobson said parenting is not for cowards. As a society, we all have a role to play. Let us take our place to bring up a better-informed, -equipped and -empowered generation that makes the right decisions and choices, reducing adolescent and teenage pregnancies.