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Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

 

Water shortages steal the shine from posh Kiamunyi suburb

By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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To many who know the topography of Nakuru County, the mention of Kiamunyi conjures up the image of a lush green suburb that is a preferred investment destination to the middle and high class residents.

Kiamunyi is probably one of the most sought after residential areas by property investors in the cosmopolitan county and is home to the who is who in the county.

However, Kiamunyi is fast losing its shine as it no longer woos investors who are now casting their nets outside the Rift Valley headquarters, thanks to a permanent water shortage.

“I bought an eighth of an acre at Kiamunyi at Sh2 million two years ago and put up various classic design units at a cost of Sh60 million but I am yet to start recouping my huge investment as tenants are shunning my units due to lack of piped water,” said property owner Galileo Olweny.

LAND PRICES

Despite having the alluring view of the Menengai Crater, potential homeowners are avoiding Kaimunyi with the land prices remaining stagnant at between Sh1.5 million and Sh2 million for an eighth of an acre.

Interestingly, the area which is sandwiched between former President Daniel arap Moi’s Kabarak home and Nakuru Town, which enjoys round the clock piped water, has continued to endure dry taps despite being only a kilometre away from the town.

The suburb survives on untreated borehole water or occasionally rain water.

Water bowser owners are enjoying roaring business and have set up a base at the busy Olive Inn trading centre where they sell water from unknown sources to desperate consumers.

NOISY ESTATE

Kiamunyi was meant to give Nakuru a new leafy suburb after Milimani Estate started turning into a noisy estate.

“We have many town houses and apartments but getting tenants or buyers is proving to be an uphill task as the first thing the tenants or buyers check is whether the taps have running water,” said Mr Joseph Mwaka, a property agent in Nakuru town.

The owner of Nakuru College of Health Sciences, Ms Susan Akinyi Nyamai, said she spend about Sh30,000 per month to buy water.

“It’s very frustrating when you have an investment worth millions of shillings and you don’t have a steady water supply,” said Ms Nyamai.

Nakuru Deputy Governor Eric Korir while launching the Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Company (Naruwasco) five-year strategic plan for 2018-2022 said it was unacceptable for Kiamunyi residents to continue suffering due to lack of water.

PIPED WATER

“I can’t understand how Kiamunyi is just a kilometre away from Nakuru Town and has no piped water. This must change and I hope it is captured in the strategic plan,” said Dr Korir.

Naruwasco managing director Reuben Korir confirmed that the firm is not serving residents of Kiamunyi and other areas under their jurisdiction.

However, Mr Korir said the permanent water shortage in Kiamunyi will “soon” become a thing of the past as the company will drill a Sh10 million borehole in the current financial year to alleviate the shortage in the area.

Mr Korir announced that a geologist is already on the ground finalising on the survey before the drilling starts.

“The borehole that will serve Kiamunyi will be drilled at Kerma along the Njoro — Nakuru Road and is earmarked to produce 10,000 cubic meters per hour and this will ultimately end the water shortage in the area,” said Mr Korir.

Besides Kiamuniyi, the company will also restore other dry lines in Njoro and Gilgil among other areas with plans to also address vandalism.

“Naruwasco has a mandate to deliver service to consumers and before the end of the five year strategic plan half of the water losses problems in our area of coverage will be tackled,” said Mr Korir.

He said the firm produces 23,000 cubic meters of water daily but was losing half of it due to old infrastructure, vandalism and flat rate billing as the company does not have enough water meters.

“By end of 2022 we shall reduce the loss of water by 20 per cent and improve our service delivery,” said Mr Korir.


Elusive justice and suffering for defiled children in Tana River

By STEPHEN ODUOR
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Trauma, memory loss and frustrations have become a part of the lives of the children defiled in Tana River County.

In two of these families, the journey to recovery has never presented any hope, as they have to watch them undergo a painful recovery.

On January 3, 2014, a couple left early in the morning for their farm in Hola irrigation scheme and left behind their ten-year old daughter playing with her friends.

An uninvited guest joined the children as they played. After a brief rapport with the children, the innocent children welcomed him to their game.

Little did they know that this ‘father figure’ had evil plans. The man only identified by the children as uncle Beka asked the minor where her where her parents were.

“He told me to take him to the farm where my parents were promising to buy me chips,” narrates the girl.

Her assailant led her to a thicket and defiled her for many hours. The matter was reported to Hola police station. girl went missing for a whole night and was rescued the following morning after a long search. and a report at. She was writhing in pain and her clothes soaked in blood.

Her parents rushed her to Hola Level Four Hospital but were later referred to Nairobi Women’s Hospital because her condition was bad.

“We were happy she was alive, but very sad she was not her piece,” says the father, struggling to hold back tears.

MAJOR OPERATIONS

The minor underwent three major operations which cost Sh750, 000 by the time she was discharged. She battled fistula for six months. Four years down the line, though healed, the girl still suffers trauma and memory loss. “Her grades have dropped seriously,” narrates her father.

Sadly, her assailant is a free man.

Elsewhere in the county, there is a mother, whose spirit is broken as the same police she hoped to dispense justice have turned against her, making her a suspect on watch.

Her 13 year-old daughter was defiled and impregnated in August last year. The family reported the case at Hola police station.

DEFEAT JUSTICE

The man was arrested and taken to court, but was later released. The family claims their quest for justice was thwarted, and blames a senior officer for colluding with the family of the assailant to defeat justice.

The widow says the officer has been harassing in a plot to distract her from seeking justice. The assailant on the other hand is a free man.

Their daughter now 14, is a mother of an eight-month old baby.

Tana River Deputy County Commissioner, Michael Kioni is conversant with their stories. He said he will follow up the cases to ensure justice is served.


Theresa May faces new Kenya in maiden visit 38 years on

By BRIAN NGUGI
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The last time a British Prime Minister visited Kenya, Land Rover was the official government car, East African Industries (now Unilever) was market leader and most Kenyans banked at Barclays.

Today, unlike her predecessor the late Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a very changed Nairobi as she kicks off her maiden official visit.

In Kenya, Mrs May will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta before visiting British troops and a business school. A State dinner hosted by Mr Kenyatta will conclude the trip.

“I am proud to be leading this ambitious trip to Africa and to become the first UK Prime Minister in over 30 years to visit Kenya,” said Mrs May said ahead of the visit. The late Thatcher, popularly known as the Iron Lady, was the first and remains the only British prime minister to have visited Kenya in 1988.

STIFF CHALLENGE

Mrs May’s visit comes at a time when British corporate giants such as Barclays, British luxury car maker Land Rover, Standard Chartered Bank, British American Tobacco and Unilever – which once straddled the Kenyan consumer goods market like a colossus – are struggling to fend off stiff challenge from the more aggressive and flexible local players.

The prime minister will bring a trade delegation with her on a chartered Royal Air Force Voyager in an attempt to boost Britain’s post-Brexit export prospects.

But she also comes at a time when London’s influence in the economic and political sphere has been speculated to have waned.

Kenya’s preference for countries in the far -east for business and development financing under retired president Mwai Kibaki’s reign in power and later his predecessor President Kenyatta has dislodged European power-houses including the UK from their traditionally long-held positions as the country’s leading sources of foreign direct investment.

DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

This change in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) pecking order has deepened in the past couple of years as the majority of developed countries – under the shock waves of debt crises – cut back on foreign investment while emerging economies scaled up their search for new business opportunities in frontier markets.

Though the many battles British corporations are fighting in Kenya may look purely commercial, keen followers of Kenya’s diplomatic positioning say it partly reflects the decline in London’s political influence in Nairobi that began in earnest under former President Kibaki.

China has particularly become Kenya’s leading source of FDI through investment in infrastructure, a move which has continually consolidated its new-found economic clout in the country.

British companies in Kenya have hit a turbulent operating environment. Giant Unilever recently embarked on massive layoffs plan targeting 11,000 employees, the workers’ union said as it announced a major battle with the company.

STAFF LAYOFFS

Kericho-based Unilever Tea, which has 16,000 employees, said the layoffs are in line with a re-organisation plan that aims to make the third largest tea company in the world “agile” in a changing business environment.

Standard Chartered Bank announced last year it would shut down four of its branches in the country. The lender said the closures are the result of a restructuring plan that has become necessary with the “current market conditions.”

This came barely a week after Barclays Bank of Kenya announced closure of seven of its outlets.

British controlled beer maker East African Breweries Limited recently reported a 14.79 per cent drop in net profit in the year ended June. It made a net profit of Sh7.25 billion in the period compared to Sh8.51 billion a year earlier.

INFRASTRUCTURAL PROJECTS

There are more than 300 British companies in Kenya and trade between London and Nairobi is currently valued at £1.3 billion (Sh130bn), according to data from the British Chamber of Commerce Kenya.

On the bilateral front, the ascendancy of Beijing to the top of Nairobi’s import table has been cemented ever since; the country has maintained an East-ward view, as a casual look at major infrastructural projects shows.

By looking East, President Kenyatta’s policy of economic diplomacy in the initial years of his presidency mirrored that of his predecessor Kibaki.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that China has dwarfed UK imports to Kenya over the last three decades.

IMPORTS FROM CHINA

Exports to the UK from Kenya have grown from approximately Sh3.7 billion in 1988 to Sh38.5 billion in 2017. On the other hand, imports from UK have grown from approximately Sh6.67 billion in 1988 to Sh30 billion in 2017.

Comparatively imports from China which in 1988 stood at Sh394 million have surged to Sh390 billion as at last year. Exports to China from Kenya in 1988 stood at 52.6 million and now stand at Sh9.9 billion.

Mrs May’s fresh push for Britain to regain its top position as Kenya’s main trading partner is not bound to be so easy.

According to International relations expert professor Macharia Munene of the United States International University, Britain’s diminishing fortunes in the country is a creation of the British government itself which according to him has perpetrated frosty relations between Kenya and the UK.

BILATERAL RELATIONS

“Britain has not been treating Kenya as an equal, but rather as a bully. The Chinese on the other hand have humbled themselves and it has paid off,” Mr Munene said earlier.

He says, Britain and other countries in the West can bring an end to a “decade of being in the cold” as far as bilateral relations with Kenya is concerned by rethinking their foreign policy.

“They need to treat us as mutual partners and not as juniors,” he said singling out the reign of former controversial British High Commissioners to Kenya Edward Clay who infamously accused unnamed corrupt officials of behaving “like gluttons” and “vomiting on the shoes” of foreign donors.

Former British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner had earlier noted that the British government would not deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta if he was elected while still facing trial at the ICC, except on “essential business”.


Authorities ought to protect stadiums by stopping football hooliganism

It is very unfortunate when fans who have gone to stadiums to cheer the teams they support turn their wrath on the stadium facilities.

The damage at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, after the match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards last Saturday was unfortunate.

In the Mashemeji Derby, which has traditionally brought the two teams together, the damage that was wrought on the stadium by hooliganism when Gor Mahia hosted the English championship side Hull City in May, was re-enacted.

The football authorities should take the necessary punitive measure on the culprits to act as a deterrent to others who might think of doing the same during future matches.

The Kasarani Stadium is a property of the national government and that could be the reason why club supporters do not bother to safeguard this very important facility.

It is high time the major football clubs were forced to secure their own stadiums.

Maintaining and repairing the Kasarani Sports Complex is a tall order. Remember, the stadium has to be ready for the Kenya versus Ghana Africa Cup of Nations football match next week.

Inaction by Sports Kenya and Football Kenya Federation could have been the incentive to the hooligans to do their thing. Football hooliganism must be condemned.

DAVID M. KIGO, Nairobi.


Judge stops hearing as terror suspect is caught with court sketch map

By BRIAN OCHARO
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A magistrate has temporarily halted hearing of a case after a suspect on terrorism charges together with an accomplice, who is her sister, were caught surveying the courtroom and arrested.

Ms Feruz Hamid Abubakar and Shamsa Abubakar were arrested by Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) after they were allegedly found drawing a sketch of the courtroom in a Mombasa court.

The two, who sat waiting for the court session to begin, were allegedly found sketching a layout of the courtroom in their mobile phones, which were confiscated upon arrest.

EXPLOSIVE BOOSTERS

Ms Hamid is facing nine terror-related charges including being in possession of detonators and explosive boosters.

The suspect’s lawyer, Chacha Mwita, termed the arrests unconstitutional and asked the court to intervene. He argued that the suspects were not informed the reasons for their arrests.

“We have not been informed why they have been arrested and their phones confiscated. We have not seen a court order allowing the police to make any arrest,” he said.

Mr Mwita wanted the puzzle resolved before hearing could proceed, saying it had a bearing on the case.

BALLISTIC EXPERTS

State Counsel Eugene Wangila, however, asked the court to ignore the matter and proceed with the hearing of the case.

But Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakweba agreed with Mr Mwita and ordered the officer in charge of security at the courts to file a comprehensive report on the arrests.

Prosecution had lined up three witnesses to testify in the matter. The witnesses included a ballistics expert and officer from mobile service provider Safaricom.

The case will be mentioned on August 31.


What UK premier seeks

By EDITORIAL
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British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Nairobi on Thursday for a visit that is meant to cement the long-standing ties between the two countries.

The choice of the countries on her itinerary is significant, as it sends a clear message about Britain’s commitment to strengthening its historical relations.

After Nairobi, Ms May will head to South Africa and then Nigeria.

Interestingly, this is PM May’s first foray into Africa in her nearly two-year tenure that was, incidentally, launched by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

This is an indication that having already consolidated the position at home, she now needs a charm offensive overseas to sell a post-Brexit UK.

It is, therefore, understandable that Britain will be seeking to assure its African partners that its exit from the EU will not have an adverse effect on their ties.

London wants to reassure, especially countries with which it has had a history dating back to colonialism, that they can and will still work together for mutual benefit.

The best indication that the accent in the ‘new’ UK will be on trade and economic co-operation is evident in the fact that the British leader will be accompanied by 29 business representatives.

In her discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Premier May will, no doubt, want to reassure her host that Britain is capable of going it alone after Brexit as it forges new trade deals, especially with its Commonwealth partners.

TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Ms May’s visit comes soon after President Kenyatta’s meeting with his United States counterpart, Mr Donald Trump, in Washington, DC, where top on the agenda was also trade and investment.

And quite soon, President Kenyatta will head to China, also in pursuit of the strengthening of trade and economic partnerships.

These high-level contacts and discussions present an opportunity for Kenya to enhance trade and economic co-operation.


MPs did well to reject punitive fuel levy Bill

By EDITORIAL
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Parliament has acted in the interest of Kenyans in voting out the controversial tax on petroleum products. It has vetoed the proposal in the Finance Bill that sought to impose value added tax on fuel, which was set to take effect on Saturday.

We have consistently argued that the push by the National Treasury to levy 16 per cent VAT on fuel was ill-advised, as it was disastrous.

Fuel drives the economy and any levy on it automatically pushes up all prices with a catastrophic impact on the citizens.

Already, motorists pay fuel levy, itself an unnecessary burden. Adding another layer of taxation is extremely burdensome.

RAISE FARES

Had the VAT been implemented, the cost of petrol would have spiked to Sh130 per litre in Nairobi from the current average of Sh105.

Consequently, public service vehicle operators had threatened to raise fares by not less than Sh30, literally inflicting more pain on commuters already agonising over the high cost of living.

The plan to impose the levy was first mooted in 2013 on the advice of the International Monetary Fund and was to be implemented in 2015 as part of the strategy to raise revenues for the Treasury.

But it was suspended exactly because of its potential devastating effects on the economy and the fact that fuel attracted other levies.

Early this year, the international lender renewed the pressure on the Treasury to enforce the levy, using it as a condition for signing a fresh tranche of Sh150 billion insurance loan that is intended to cushion the shilling against external currency fluctuation shocks.

FINANCE BILL

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich went ahead to include it in the Finance Bill despite stiff opposition from consumers. That has since elicited protracted debate in many circles.

Any reasonable government listens to its citizens. When they raise the alarm over high taxation, it behoves the authorities to take heed and make amends.

Anything to the contrary sends very wrong signals, depicting the government as an insensitive and uncaring administration that is ready to play ball with the international donors at the expense of the people.

Yet, as experts have established, Kenya does not need the insurance loan and, often, even other monies being flaunted by the lenders.

PREDATORY POLICIES

As fittingly suggested by the MPs, the point is not just postponing implementation of the VAT levy until 2020; it should be scrapped altogether. This is because the reason why it was rejected in the past and now will still obtain in the next two years.

Taxpayers are hard-pressed and should not be pushed to the wall. They have to be protected against such predatory policies that could inflict more harm than good on the citizens. Let’s do away with the fuel tax once and for all.


Fate of constituencies that did not meet population criteria in limbo

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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The fate of 27 constituencies that did not meet the population criteria in the 2012 boundary review now hangs in the balance after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it will be open to change in the upcoming evaluation.

While the number of constituencies will still remain 290 — as stipulated in the Constitution — any alteration to constitutional boundaries will greatly change the political matrix ahead of the 2022 elections.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday said the boundaries will be reviewed after the March 24-25, 2019 census, which will determine the population required for a constituency to maintain its status.

133,000 PEOPLE

The population of a constituency must be higher or lower than its quota by 40 per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas, and 30 per cent for other areas. The quota is arrived at by dividing the total population by the 290 constituencies.

During the last review, the population threshold was set at 133,000 people.

The review must be done at intervals of not less than eight years and not more than 12 years, but should be completed at least 12 months before members of Parliament are elected.

The 27 constituencies that were saved in 2012, but which face alterations in the next review are Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura, Galole, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya, Kangema, and Mathioya.

VESTED INTERESTS

Others are Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga, Budalang’i, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku, and Mbeere North.

Meanwhile, Mr Chebukati has linked the attempt by two former IEBC commissioners to return to office to an audit of the 2017 election that came out last week.

“There are a lot of vested interests when it comes to the work of the commission. When they left, we came up with an audit of the 2017 election, and if you look at the time of their attempted return, just after we have finished the audit, you can draw some parallels there,” Mr Chebukati told NTV on Wednesday.

RESIGNATION

He said the audit had implicated some commissioners, whom he refused to name, in overpricing election materials.

He laughed off the attempts by former Vice-Chairperson Consolata Maina and commissioner Margaret Mwachanya to return to work as insincere. They both resigned in April alongside commissioner Paul Kurgat.

Ms Maina and Ms Mwachanya had on Friday last week and on Monday demanded to be allowed back to their offices, saying a High Court finding that their resignation was unprocedural allowed them back to work, a position Mr Chebukati completely rejects.

“We need to have men and women of honour in Kenya who, when they say something, they stick to it. You cannot say that since the President has not initiated processes to replace you then you are not out. No!” Mr Chebukati said.

“We are clear that these people are former commissioners. They have cleared with us, and that is it,” he said.

While he said he was not in a position “to know whether the president received the resignation letters”, the three commissioners had sworn in court that they had quit their jobs, and that, in itself, should suffice.


NLC to probe how Italian tycoon acquired land in Funzi Island

By MOHAMED AHMED
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The National Land Commission (NLC) has launched investigations to establish how Italian tycoon Alessandro Torriani acquired the famous Funzi Island in Kwale.

On Wednesday, it emerged that 62 acres of the island belong to Mr Hamisi Mwatende, who, the commission said, held the first title.

But, when he got before the commission’s committee on historical land injustices, sitting at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa, Mr Mwatende said he has been left with only a makuti-thatched house and not a single acre of land.

RECEIVED THREATS

Mr Mwatende, 82, is now living as a squatter despite documents showing he is the sole owner of L.R NO. KWL/FUNZI/64, the commission heard.

Mr Mwatende said he has been receiving threats from land officials in Kwale whenever he inquired into the matter.

The commission chaired by Dr Samuel Tororei said it was not clear how the land was transferred from Mr Mwatende to five other people before it was acquired by Mr Torriani.

The five were identified as Mr James Gakunya Kahiu, Mr Daniel Kibuka Gikonyo, Mr Frank Gitau Njenga, Mr Lawrence Kinyanjui Gitau and Ms Betty Muthoni Gikonyo. The commission said these were “prominent people”.

SH1.6 BILLION

According to documents obtained by NLC, commissioner Emma Njogu said that it was not clear how the land was transferred to these people and later to the Italian businessman.

Mr Torriani, who is settled at South Coast, built Funzi Keys Resort, which closed recently due to low tourist arrivals. He is said to own Funzi and other small islands in Kwale.

A few years ago, reliable sources revealed that he put some of the properties up for sale.

He was selling one piece for USD16 million (Sh1.6 billion), a price tag that raised eyebrows among local residents who have clashed with him over ownership of some islands and for cutting down indigenous forest aged about 100-years-old. Some of the gazetted islands were reclaimed by the government.

TRANSACTION

“From what we are seeing, there is something which was being cooked but the cook failed to prepare good food. We will go deeper to establish what went wrong,” said Dr Tororei.

The commission said it would summon an official from the registrar of land in Kwale. This is after Mr Mwatende said the official was behind his woes.

It further emerged that some transactions might have taken place, with Mr Mwatende receiving Sh500,000.

His relative, Mr Bashir Betawa, who assisted Mr Mwatende in his presentation to the commission, said unknown people approached the latter and money changed hands.

“But we keep wondering how someone could sell a beach plot at Sh500,000. And what shocks us is that the old man is not in possession of the transaction documents,” said Mr Betawa.

The commission said that, from the presentations, it was clear that Mr Mwatende had been conned, adding that their investigations would focus on establishing how this fraud was carried out.

“What might have happened is that the old man could have been tricked and we will ensure we bring that to light,” said Dr Tororei.

Meanwhile, the commission has asked parties claiming ownership of a 135-acre piece of land in Utange, Mombasa, to submit their documents in 14 days, proving how they came to be in possession of the land, as it continues with its investigations.

Some 527 families, including that of Mr Jonathan Njenga Kagiri, are claiming ownership of the land, which has been in contention for nine years now.


A report from the village on Kenya’s devolution dance

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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How is Kenya’s devolution, now past its sixth year, doing? And what can the rest of Africa learn from this Kenya’s version of decentralisation?

A trip to the countryside always throws up surprising answers to these questions. There are the usual stories of corruption, county governors playing Big Man, nepotism, and its relatives. Those, in many ways, are par for the course.

The fascinating stuff happens on the margins, and one of the interesting things is that there is a growing army of people upcountry who are following the off-the-beaten path trends in devolution.

LOCAL BLOKE

On a recent trip, one such rural public intellectual told me that he thinks it’s bad for your county to be near the capital. For example, he said, because Kiambu shares a fence with Nairobi, Nairobi tends to be the magnet, hovering up both the legitimate and “corruption county capital”.

Kiambu County would probably get a better deal buying stationery from a supplier on Kimathi Street in Nairobi, than locally.

It makes less sense for Kisumu County to do so, so a local bloke is likely to get the contract.

COUNTY CROOK

A corrupt Kiambu county official, is more likely to invest his or her loot in a building in Nairobi, because the returns are higher. A county crook in Marsabit, on the other hand, is more likely to invest it “in the neighbourhood” because development costs are attractively lower, and it’s easier for him to supervise and manage.

It’s like sitting in the bright part of a school dancehall, next to the popular football captain or school beauty queen. Invariably, you will get to dance less than them, as fewer people will pick you.

Anyway, I am not sure if any of that is true, but it has a seductive ring of the truth to it. I will check with fellows who take a more scientific approach to studying the counties.

Another very unlikely source (he’s a globalist who’s in the air a lot, so I didn’t expect him to pay a lot of attention to things in the villages) wowed me with his insights about how devolution is affecting local labour markets.

First, he said, he has noticed a rise in a shortage of men in the Kenyan countryside. Part of, he said, is for good reason – with small and big infrastructure county infrastructure projects, men have left to go and work on them.

But his suspicion is that the majority of them have been attracted by all the lights (street lights and bar lights) that have come with the growth of towns, fuelled by devolution money. They are not doing serious work, just hanging around, and throwing the little they occasionally get on sports bets.

HIGH SALARY

In any event, the number of hangers-on, whom you could pay a few bob to do odd jobs for elderly relatives in the villages, is shrinking.

Increasingly more and more people in Nairobi, now have to pay for some kind of quasi-professional worker to help with these relatives.

The problem, if indeed it is a problem, is that labour costs are going up. He paid the househelp for his parents a salary that was too high, considering the going local rate, that he kept it secret from them because they would have protested.

GETTING CRUMBS

Then he got a shock. After a few months, she told him she was leaving. The salary he thought was so high, he kept it a secret from his parents, wasn’t good enough.

The househelp had got a fairly good front office job in a nearby county outlet, which was paying her more than twice. Not every county governor is like Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana who has, according to his fans, put his learning and progressive outlook to creating miracles there. But it seems even where badly run counties are getting only crumbs invested in development, it still moves the needle a little.

An optimistic chap claimed he was seeing a hopeful political development. Doing business with counties has created a new class of small and medium tenderpreneurs who were locked out of the big money contracts by the old established cartels, he said.

LESS TRIBAL

Mostly young, he said that they rely on a wide network across the country, and that they are generally less tribal and nativist.

It was the constituency that most demanded the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, because they were the most affected by disruption caused by election disputes, and the chill that followed, he said.

I hope he is right. Or rather, I wish he’s right.

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