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Monday, November 12th, 2018


Alarm at growing child abuse cases

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A new report has revealed shocking details on child sexual abuse in the country, with Nairobi County leading. The revelation comes amid debate on the increase in teenage pregnancies.

The report by the International Child Protection Conference 2018 indicates that, despite an 11-year-old law protecting children, they are still being sexually abused.


“Some of the reasons for the high prevalence can be attributed to: lack of stringent punishment for perpetrators having ways of enticing children, darkness in slums, shyness and lack of awareness, where parents don’t discuss issues to do with sex with their children,” says the report produced after a two-day conference in Nairobi in August.


It adds that most cases lead to death, besides serious physical and psychological injuries.

“It occurs across a wide range of social, cultural and socio-economic boundaries. Most traditions and family structures prohibit talk on sexuality, as well as the physical and emotional changes that come with it. As a result, child sexual abuse goes unreported,” the report says.

It adds that abuse cases have been increasing at an alarming rate in the recent past and wants a multifaceted approach involving key stakeholders with a view to curbing the vice.

“Those who experience childhood sexual trauma have been found to develop emotional and behavioural reactions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression,” the report says.


“The findings indicate that child sexual abuse occurred regardless of age, gender, religion, residence, and parents’ marital status. Perpetrators of abuse: strangers committed 44 per cent of the assaults, followed by neighbours (22 per cent) and family friends (7 per cent). Home was the most insecure place, as most of the assaults (22 per cent) happened there,” it adds.

It shows that of the 2,683 that were sexually abused before they reached 18 years, 417 reported having suffered depression,


“Most of the penetrative sexual abuse on children (22 per cent) occurred in their own homes, 11 per cent in school, and 13 per cent at the perpetrator’s home,” it says.

It recommends that a study be conducted to find out how the children can be managed to overcome the psychological effects of the abuse and taught life skills to prevent repeat abuse.

On teenage pregnancy, the report notes that 61 per cent of the young mothers reported that they experienced a number of social challenges.


It recommends that schools, faith-based organisations, and parents encourage and help teenage mothers overcome the myriad challenges they face daily.

“Various strategies could be used to enhance the parenting styles and coping mechanisms of teenage mothers, such as through the media as a powerful teaching and outreach tool. Stiff penalties should be put in place for absentee fathers,” it adds.


It goes on: “There should deliberate actions by Ministry of Education to inform head teachers on the“re-entry policy” and highlight on the role of parents in the re-admission process of teenage mothers”

During the administration of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination a total of 10 girls delivered. The ongoing Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations has also recorded deliveries by candidates.

Education cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has since set up a team to look at the issue of teenage pregnancies in the country.

4 KCSE candidates kicked out, 20 teachers face action in exam probe

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Four Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates were yesterday deregistered for engaging in malpractice while 20 teachers will be interdicted as the government steps up its crackdown on exam cheats.

The four were deregistered after they were found with mobile phones in an exam room, contrary to regulations. Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed yesterday revealed that three are from Garissa, one from Nairobi.


The CS, who witnessed the opening of examination papers in Naivasha before visiting some schools in the town, including Naivasha Girls Secondary School, said more candidates are likely to be deregistered since security agencies are still scrutinising some of the examination materials that they were caught with.

“And if we feel that the additional ones need to be deregistered, we will definitely do so,” Ms Mohamed said.


Without going into details, the CS said some of the affected students had attempted to pass around fake information about the exams, highlighting the dangers of such an attempt, including gullible students falling prey.

She warned that stern action will be taken on centre managers who do not execute their duties according to the examination regulations, adding that action had already been taken against some.


In Nairobi, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia hit out at private schools for encouraging cheating. She said some had employed unregistered teachers, whom they were using to facilitate cheating.

She added that teachers involved in cheating will be punished, including being sacked. She asked supervisors to frisk the candidates thoroughly before allowing them into the exam rooms.

In Nakuru, a 19-year-old candidate at Sitoito Mixed Day and Boarding Secondary School in Kuresoi North died Monday morning at the Kamwaura Health Centre, where he has been doing his exams. Medics at the centre said he was suffering from cancer of the lymph nodes.

In Kisii, 15 suspects charged with exam cheating at the Ogembo Law Courts will remain in custody for two more weeks after they were denied bond by Senior Resident Magistrate Margaret Nafula yesterday. They include Monianku Secondary School Principal Christopher Otieno and his deputy, Mr Peter Aroni, who were arrested in South Mugirango, Kisii County, last week.


The prosecution had applied to have the suspects detained further as investigations continue.

Speaking in Kisii town yesterday, Kenya National Examination Council Chairman George Magoha said the recent cheating in the KCSE exams are attributable to collusion between centre managers and security officials. He said principals and school managers come up with elaborate plans to cheat and suggested that candidates be frisked before and after exams to ensure that they do not have any unauthorised material.


In Homa Bay, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Julius Jwan discouraged parents from buying exam papers for their children, “The security of the exam papers is assured. The Ministry of Education has ensured that the papers are tightly sealed, so getting access to them is out of the question,” he said.

In Nandi County, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Chairman Omboko Milima asked President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto and Cabinet secretaries to keep off secondary schools.

“The presence of the Mr Kenyatta, his deputy, and Cabinet secretaries do not add any value to the candidates, and the union has established that students spend more than 30 minutes panicking whenever a top government official visits during the exam period,” said Mr Milemba.

Reporting by Macharia Mwangi, John Njoroge, Ouma Wanzala, Magdalene Wanja and Benson Ayienda.

Kenya to move to green energy by 2020, says President

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Kenya targets 100 per cent transition to green energy by 2020 to address the climate change challenge, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.

President Kenyatta said renewable energy makes up 70 per cent of Kenya’s installed electric power capacity, with investment scaled up.

He said the aggressive investments to reach this figure have been made simultaneously with Kenya almost tripling the size of its population served by the electricity grid to more than 60 per cent of the population.


“We will do this (100 per cent transition) while we achieve 100 per cent access to power for our population, and sharply lower costs to aid our manufacturing push,” he said on Sunday during a round-table discussion on “Don’t drop climate efforts” in a session of the Paris Peace Forum in France.

Speaking alongside Presidents Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s investment in green energy is proof that doing the right thing is more than a cost but rather a chance to offer immense opportunities for business growth and enhancement of citizens’ quality of life.


The President challenged governments of industrialised countries, especially in Europe where sustainability has been embraced, to support such investments in green energy in Africa. He said doing so would help mitigate and even reverse the effects of climate change while delivering the jobs and opportunities that will strengthen security and stability on the continent, and the world.

“To do even more, we need support from the Green Climate Fund and other mechanisms to enhance our green energy capabilities and accelerate adaptation and mitigation of the impact of climate change,” he said.

He emphasised that Kenya is open for business in the manufacturing of green technologies and will work hard to enable investors in this field to thrive.

President Kenyatta spoke of the need for multilateralism to make its mark in solving major challenges ranging from insecurity, terrorism and the effects of climate change.

He said although African countries were nowhere close to the top producers of greenhouse emissions, they are, nevertheless, champions of sustainability because they know the painful price of inaction in the face of climate change reality.

President Kenyatta took the opportunity to invite leaders to attend the first ever Global Conference on Sustainable Blue Economy from November 26 to 28 that Kenya, Canada and Japan are co-hosting in Nairobi.

Enrolling and keeping more girls in school a goal worth pursuing

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Recently, the Daily Nation reported on a study released by the World Economic Forum, which showed that while Kenya has some of the best primary school enrolment rates, with “near-parity” of girls and boys, that parity begins to disappear as they go secondary school.

While Kenya might view its high enrolment of girls in primary schools as a success story, it’s not yet time to celebrate. Not until the government is able to break down the old barriers that prevent girls from completing their education.

I recently visited Lerata Primary School in Samburu County, near where I live. My aim was to get a better understanding of the realities on the ground.

Lerata is a typical government school in the country’s drylands. There, like in so many other places, more girls than boys initially enrol in primary school.


But this begins to change by Standard Four as we begin seeing more boys than girls in the upper classes, which begs the question: ‘Where do girls go?’

The reasons include gender inequality, culture and economic status. Too often, in our culture, women are treated as beasts of burden.

Girls are expected to do additional labour that boys aren’t, resulting in them missing school. Additionally, when many a man has a daughter, he sees more cows or wealth. The government can help communities to enrol more girls into school, but quite often from the moment a girl child is seen as marriageable, negotiations for her to become someone’s wife will begin, resulting in her leaving school.

In Kenya, one in four girls is married off before her 18th birthday, but the situation is worse in the rural drylands, where girls as young as nine are married off.


There are some Kenyans who believe this problem is blown out of proportion by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A visit to a rescue centre in the drylands where many of these girls have found refuge confirms the reality of these retrogressive practices

Girls are also unable to access education as they get older because of lack of sanitary napkins. One might miss, on average, five school days a month because of menstruation. This means 15 learning days lost per term—which over a year works out to a month-and-a-half of learning as they cannot afford menstrual pads.

Indeed, the government has made a lot of progress. It should be praised for enrolling more girls into schools and passing new Marriage Bill that outlaws marriage below the age of 18 and imposes stern penalties on anyone who gets betrothed to an underage person. Also welcome is the plan to distribute sanitary pads to schoolgirls.

But these measures don’t go far enough. The distribution fails to reach many schools, in the drylands. Properly equipped and secured dormitories are needed, especially for girls who travel long distances. School facilities should be improved and water and proper sanitation provided.

While the laws outlawing child marriages have been passed, not enough is being done to apply them. Often times, the authorities do not enforce the laws.

Local culture is allowed to supersede the law because officials from these communities fear running afoul of the affected families.

Knowledge is power, so we need to do a better job of keeping track of our students. A complete database of learners is needed in all public and private primary and secondary schools.


It should be updated regularly, with each child being traced from enrolment until graduation. Dropouts should be investigated, and if possible, returned to school.

The government and NGOs have done a commendable job of enrolling girls in school. But this is not enough. Now they must work to make sure girls can finish school and achieve their dreams.

Mr Omar is co-founder and Kenya programme director for the Boma Project, responsible for developing and implementing the Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP).

Sexual health policy to curb teenage crisis

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In the past couple of weeks, news of girls giving birth or sitting their national exams while pregnant have hit the headlines. Unfortunately, teenage pregnancies are common in many parts of the country.

Data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, reveals that many Kenyans aged between 15 and 19 are having children. At 15, three out of 100 girls are already child-bearing and this rises to 40 out of 100 girls by age 19.

The Ministry of Health and other stakeholders have spent a lot of time on formulating a response to tackle the issue of teenage pregnancies among other challenges.

The most comprehensive and perhaps relevant intervention is the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy.


The policy, which was published and launched in 2015, provides a clear roadmap of actions that the stakeholders need to take to tackle teenage pregnancies.

It has a 14-point action plan, ranging from providing teenagers with accurate information through an age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education curriculum, to investing in youth-friendly reproductive healthcare.

Alongside the policy, the Health ministry has also committed to ensuring access for every sexually active adolescent to modern contraceptives.

This is important because only four out of 10 (40 percent) adolescent sexually active women aged 15 to 19 are using (or whose partner is using) a contraceptive method. This means that most teenage pregnancies are unintended. The ministry targets to increase this to five out of 10 (50 percent) by 2020.


The discussion on access to modern contraceptives for adolescents is particularly relevant as Kenya joins the global family planning community for the International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali.

This provides an opportunity to renew its commitment to reducing pregnancy among adolescents (15 to 19) from 18 to 12 per cent by 2020 and 10 per cent by 2025.

Alongside efforts by the Health ministry in tackling teenage pregnancy, the Ministry of Education also has a role to play.

One of the high impact, low- hanging fruits the Education ministry can pick in tackling teenage pregnancy is to speed up the adoption of age- appropriate comprehensive sexuality education into the school curriculum.


The conversation about a sexuality education curriculum somewhat stalled. High-level intervention is needed to unlock the impasse.

From our experience in Kilifi County, such a broad partnership involving parents, education officials, health officials, community and religious leaders can yield positive results. We have seen drastic reduction in teenage pregnancies in areas where we have worked for five years.

The best bet in tackling teenage pregnancy is implementing national adolescent sexual and reproductive health policy.

Ms Samba is the Kenya country director at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW), a global development organisation. [email protected]

Kenya has potential to become global health hub

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When you think of Switzerland you normally think of chocolate, cheese, cows – and banks.

You might, therefore, be surprised to learn that Switzerland is also a global health hub.

Roche and Novartis, two of the five biggest global pharmaceutical companies, are located in Basel, Switzerland. With their innovative medicine and Research and Development (R&D) projects, they not only improve the lives of millions of patients around the world, but also offer thousands of people jobs.


Taken together, both companies have more than 218,000 employees and invested more than $19 billion in R&D last year. They also immensely contribute to Switzerland’s reputation as an innovative country.

The pharma giants in Basel are fighting illnesses from cancer and high blood pressure to malaria and are now going into personalised healthcare. Geneva is home to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the main policy body when it comes to global health. The WHO is working on global health issues such as Ebola and other epidemics.


Switzerland as a whole has a performing health sector with public university hospitals and specialised private hospitals. People from all over the world travel to Switzerland for their special health needs.

Private health insurance is mandatory for all people living in Switzerland. This is not cheap, but it covers every single person on Swiss soil. A healthy population is more productive, and Switzerland’s population is one of the most productive worldwide.

You see why I am talking about Switzerland as a global health hub?

But Kenya is a health hub, too, a regional one. In case of a severe medical emergency, my colleagues in the Swiss Cooperation Offices in Bujumbura and Kigali, for example, would be evacuated to Nairobi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a year ago the introduction of universal healthcare as part of his ‘Big Four’’ agenda for his second and final five-year term. The other three pillar are housing, food security and manufacturing.

Devolution has been a driving force for healthcare expansion. When visiting seven of the northern counties at the beginning of this year, I was truly impressed to see the investments in healthcare by the administrations.

I saw newly built hospitals in Wajir, Lamu, Mandera and Marsabit counties. In Wajir, a medical training centre opened its gates to the local people and those from the neighbouring counties. Kenya is also indirectly supporting the fragile health systems in Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Kenya has a strategic position when it comes to quality control of the drugs transiting through the region.


Kenya has a diverse and dynamic private health sector. Academia and expert practitioners in health systems from all over the world are looking at Kenya as an innovation hub for how best to provide healthcare in low and middle income countries.

No wonder, international private investors are showing increased and strategic interest in Kenya as a health market. In the past three years, the presidents and CEOs of both the Swiss pharmaceutical companies present in Kenya have visited the country.


A government can see the health sector from two different lenses. Health is a fundamental human right, which every government must strive to provide to the people it serves, including the very poorest people in every corner of the country. At the same time, there is an economic opportunity in health, when it is seen as a global service sector. You can make your country an attractive destination so that foreigners who can afford advanced healthcare will travel here routinely for such treatment. And in this second case, the provision of such advanced health services can be a major employer and source of income.


I don’t see why Kenya can’t turn from a regional health hub into a global one. There is a growing middle class which will demand more and better health services. Kenyans are impressively well-educated, eloquent and very humane. Kenya’s climate is one of the best in the world. These are important assets for a thriving global health hub.

Why should people from all over the world not be willing to come to Kenya to seek modern healthcare? Why should Kenya not be the Florida of the world where rich people would like to retire – and look for good healthcare?

Dr Ralf Heckner is the Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya.

Archbishop Njenga: Man of faith and true patriot

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The late Archbishop John Joseph Njenga built not only physical structures, but he was himself an institution. For five decades, he spearheaded the construction of several edifices including Waumini House in Westlands, Sacred Heart Cathedral Eldoret and St Mary’s Teacher Training College, Bura-Taita.

He will also be remembered for the pivotal role he played in negotiations between the Church and the government, leading to the 1968 Education Act. The bone of contention was management of schools founded by the churches and whose transfer to the government looked like a hostile takeover.


The cleric represented the Catholic Church, which as a faith-based organisation, had founded the largest number of schools and Dr Gikonyo Kiano, then Education minister, championed the government position. After protracted and difficult negotiations, it was agreed that the ministry takes over management and the Church was guaranteed several rights as school sponsors.

The prelate also sought funds to support needy learners. Early in his priestly work at Our Lady of the Visitation Makadara, he had been struck by the rising number of jobless youth.


To address this challenge, he partnered with several well-wishers and organisations to set up centres such as Edelvale Home. He received the support of many religious sisters organisations coordinated by Sr Dr Marie Theresa Gacambi, then superior of the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi.

Beneficiaries of the archbishop’s efforts in education have organised themselves to form the Archbishop Njenga Alumni Group. The group’s chairperson, Ms Pauline Sisa, reports that their organisation has over 500 members, with four chapters in Kenya and a fifth one comprising the diaspora.

During his time of service, he focused on raising literacy levels and enhancing enrolment, transition and completion in relevant education programmes.

His other passion was provision of healthcare. To attain this, he trained personnel and also sought material and human resource from outside the country. In the mid-70s, he invited the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, a Nigerian foundation that specialises in healthcare, to serve in far-flung parts of the Eldoret Diocese.


When he was transferred to Mombasa, he founded the congregation of Sisters of Mary Mother of God to serve in education, counselling and community service.

In retirement, Archbishop Njenga settled at Queen of Apostles Seminary Ruaraka and volunteered his services to several parishes. An avid and competitive lawn tennis player even in his 70s and 80s, he continued to be generous with his expertise and experience in matters education and counselling.


This writer recalls that three years ago, he granted an interview to Simon Ndung’u, a PhD candidate I was supervising, who sought information on the 1968 Education Act. Though ailing, the cleric was ready for a one-hour interview and became so animated as he re-lived the past that the session spilled to two hours.

As the student and I prepared to leave, he stopped us. “It’s lunch time. You can’t leave without eating,” he declared. My protests were useless.

After the meal, he said: “Weren’t you in a hurry to leave? Quick! Be on your way now. It’s time for my siesta.” Before I could find a proper comment, it was clear that the conversation was over.

Fr Njoroge, a priest of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, teaches Development Studies and Ethics at JKUAT, [email protected]

Stan Lee: Marvel Comics legend dies aged 95

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American writer and former president of Marvel Comics Stan Lee has died at the age of 95.

In 1961, Lee created The Fantastic Four for Marvel Comics, and went on to create titles including Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk.

The legendary comic book author died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a family lawyer.

The CEO of Lee’s Pow! Entertainment praised the “father of pop culture” for inventing “universes of characters”.

CEO Shane Duffy called him “a true iconic pioneer with no comparable second”.

Lee’s wife, Joan, died in 2017 – also aged 95 – but he is survived by his daughter, JC Lee.

Speaking to celebrity news website TMZ, JC Lee said her father was “the greatest, most decent man”.

She told Reuters: “He felt an obligation to his fans to keep creating.”

In recent years, Lee had periodically suffered from illnesses, including a bout of pneumonia, US media reported.

Lee was known for making a cameo in every Marvel film, though he had left the Marvel company in 1972. He remained chairman emeritus.

On Sunday, Veteran’s Day, his official Facebook page shared a photograph of Lee in the Army, noting his nickname during World War Two was Playwright.

Lee was born in 1922 to working-class Jewish immigrants from Romania.

He began working at the comics section of Timely Publications – a company that would eventually transform into Marvel Comics – and became comics editor there at age 18.

But for years Lee wrote only simple comics focusing on crime stories, horrors and westerns aimed at young readers.

At age 40, Lee decided to give up on comics. But his wife Joan urged him to create the characters he always wanted to write as his comic swansong.


And in 1961, Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four – compelling characters with individual personalities and relatable problems.

Timely Publications was renamed Marvel and the golden age of comic books had begun.

Many Marvel characters were groundbreaking at the time. For example, Black Panther was the first black superhero featured in a mainstream US comic.


Other characters he created include the Silver Surfer, the X-Men, Iron Man and Doctor Strange.

Lee was also known for giving artists their due credit. Kirby, Frank Miller, John Romitaand and others achieved cult status in their own right.

In its heyday, Marvel sold 50 million copies a year. Until he retired from editing in 1971, Lee wrote all the copy for Marvel’s covers.

Taming climate change

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Kenya has joined the rest of the world in renewing its commitment to the acceleration of environmental conservation to check climate change. The affirmation was given by none other than President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is currently in France for the World Peace Forum. And comes in the wake of the International Conference on Climate Change and Global Warming held in Paris over a week ago.

The President says Kenya will continue to partner with other nations of the world in pushing for the use of green energy to curb global warming. The country has much to worry about its environment as years of the wanton destruction of its key water towers have seen forest cover shrink to 7.6 per cent. This compares dismally with the 10 per cent lower threshold recommended by the United Nations.

The result has been the drying up of rivers, erratic rainfall and dwindling of water sources. Without doubt, these are some of the tell-tale signs that mark the onset of climate change. With such dire warnings, the country cannot afford to sit on the fence, as the effects of climate change are not only a threat to the current generation but the country’s posterity, too.

It is worth pointing out that the government has in recent months rolled out measures aimed at achieving this critical goal. Crucial has been a campaign by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, which seeks to have some 1.8 billion trees planted in the next five years.

This is commendable and must be implemented to the letter, as there is no easier option. Even then, more still needs to be done on environmental conservation, if we are to bequeath our future generations a country that is habitable.

PSV operators seeing the light good news

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Public service vehicle operators have finally seen the sense and called off their daylong boycott that caused so much pain and anguish to commuters yesterday. Clearly, the announcement by the Matatu Transport Vehicles Association that they will resume operations today was the logical thing to do. They were on their own and were fighting a losing battle. There were no two ways about it. The law had been laid out and the industry had to abide with it or face sanctions. Better still, those dissatisfied could as well take a walk and look for other businesses. They hold licences to provide service to the public and must obey the law.


To be sure, the operators caused major disruptions across the country by withdrawing their vehicles to protest the enforcement of the traffic rules. Commuters had to walk long distances to work, while the few vehicles available charged exorbitant fares. But all that was an act of impertinence. The regulations are not new; they have existed in the books for long, but largely ignored and unenforced, except for the brief spell in 2003 under the stewardship of then Transport minister John Michuki.

The essence of having the rules is well-known; to end road carnage, create order in public transport and instil discipline. The converse is that the public transport sector has been badly abused by reckless drivers and belligerent crew that thrive in disorder. Passengers have become hapless victims of crooks who speed, overload, over-charge and behave as if they were a law unto themselves. Bus stops are inundated with thugs and drunken layabouts operating under the guise of support staff for the vehicles, but who steal and torment passengers.


Paradoxically, they are even a threat to vehicle owners; extorting money from them and expelling them from routes if they fail to acquiesce. It is incredible that we have allowed a subculture of greed, roguishness and theft to thrive in the transport sector. The public fully supports the push for discipline on the roads. The government should push it to the logical end. It must not relent and allow a return of the old bad order. That is what happened after the short-stint of implementation 15 years ago under Michuki.


Spearheading the operation, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Transport counterpart, Mr James Macharia, have vowed unyielding application of the rules. They must remain firm and steadfast. PSV operators must be tamed. Never again should Kenyans die on the roads due to reckless driving or defective vehicles; or suffer the ignominy of abuse and harassment.