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Sunday, January 6th, 2019

 

Sh460 million Mombasa project to boost tourism

By WINNIE ATIENO
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The Sh460 million Mombasa waterfront project at Mama Ngina Drive will boost tourism in the coastal city, officials say.

The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and the county government.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Governor Hassan Joho will launch the project today.

Coast Regional Coordinator Bernard Leparmarai and Tourism Principal Secretary Joe Okudo were among government officers who inspected the preparation of the launch on Sunday.

According to the government, the park will also create employment for locals.

The project will entail the development of a public square, two gateways, a Swahili cultural centre, pigeon coops, a paved path, space for restaurants, modern selling points, an amphitheatre and landscaping gardens.

The waterfront project will be completed by May. The project is expected to transform Mombasa into a leading and competitive world class tourism destination.

Mombasa Tourism chief officer Innocent Mugabe and the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers said Mombasa would join great tourism cities around the world that have been weaved around waterways.

“Waterfronts cities like London, Dubai or Cape Town are among the most toured. Mombasa will be in company with San Francisco with her famous Fisherman’s Wharf, a melting pot of tourism on the West Coast of North America,” Mr Mugabe said.

There are around 150 traders at the drive selling food, artefacts and other products.

The chief officer said 300 traders would be allowed to operate at the park once the project is completed.

“We will have modern shops, restaurant and sanitation facilities. This project will make Mombasa a beach destination,” Mr Mugabe said.

“The area was an early settlement site and a battleground during the Arab-Portuguese wars. It has a rich history. In fact, the baobab trees are grave markers.”

Security enhanced at the drive on Sunday as workers made last minute touches ahead of today’s launch.

The National Treasury set aside Sh460 million in the 2018/19 budget for the project.

Tourism has experienced competition, security and other challenges, resulting in the decline in Kenya’s competitiveness.

The ministry procured consultancy services encompassing architectural, civil engineering, surveying, landscaping, urban planning and environmental expertise from Planning Systems Services.


Media must take tribe out of political discourse for peace

By KALTUM GUYO
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I was brought up to understand that “you are what you say”. I could say the same for the media in Kenya that uses ethnicity in their political reports. What they report on and how they do it can make or break the society, and we have had a series of election violence incidents partly influenced by ethnic division as a result.

When media keep reporting politics by highlighting tribe in political discourse, that adds to the tension created by the many years of acerbic politics in our country. It feels like we are walking on egg shells, as it is, when it comes to tribe and politics in Kenya. Therefore, reporting politics based on tribe is just adding fuel to the fire that is Kenyan politics.

TACIT EXCLUSION

Tribalism, like racism, tends to come through as euphemism. No white person would today walk towards a black person and call them nigger, Paki or terrorist for fear of falling afoul of anti-racism laws. Instead, racism appears through tacit exclusion of people of colour from jobs or opportunities in predominantly white countries that are intolerant to people of other races.

Recently, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o was on the cover of Grazia magazine (UK edition) — but without her signature short African hair. Instead, she was shown to have longer, straight hair.

A picture does, indeed, speak a thousand words and it was very telling, that, even despite her big screen success, including an Oscar award, she could not escape the subtle prevalent racist innuendos.

Lupita’s short African hair was deemed unsuitable for white readers, but it is okay for a black person to be fed the story of an actress with blue eyes and blond hair. As a disclaimer, this racist incident was not a reflection of the British society, where most people are accommodating.

Tribalism in Kenya, like modern forms of racism, also appears in media headlines hidden behind the curtain of party names. It is not uncommon to hear of “Kikuyu leaders” from the Jubilee Party doing this or that or groups of “Kalenjin MPs” forming an alliance in the Rift Valley or the opposition being just about Luos, for example.

CREATE COHESION

The main parties may have majority support in a community, but that does not mean it is exclusive to it. It is, therefore, irresponsible and inflammatory for the media to report political party affairs as those of a tribe. In countries such as Kenya, that is akin to stoking the cyclical embers of violent ethnic politics.

Being a country of many communities is a fact of life for us, but how we manage cohesion is dependent on the words and phrases we adopt for the sake of peace. We can do very little about our many tribes but achieve more in creating politics devoid of tribal spin.

The media ought to be in the forefront of creating cohesion by choosing words and political instances to report on responsibly. Even if they have vested interests in a political outcome (which should not happen in a democracy), they must still be aware that they have a responsibility on how they report on political matters.

The media must start by taking the sting out of the 2022 politics, which has already started creating ethnic fault lines between regions. The second most crucial part is avoiding reportage of politics on a tribal basis.

A headline such as “Luhya MPs have joined forces for 2022”, for instance, may make the other communities to follow suit by creating their own tribal caucuses. Such headlines do very little in bringing the country together.

BUILDING BRIDGES

The Building Bridges Initiative would appear to be a project in futility when the media chooses to undermine their work through inflammatory and divisive tribal headlines.

Kenyans are intelligible to the major communities behind most of the political parties; we do not need them rubbed into our faces. Let us hear of the manifesto and development achievements of the parties devoid of any tribal nuances. We, the people, are intelligent enough to fill in the missing puzzles when it comes to tribal division and can do so in the fullness of time.

Let the media let the country heal from years of ethnic feud and maintain peace and cohesion. If they don’t heed our concern, then, perhaps, it is time Parliament legislated on making certain media reports hate crime.

It is about time the media stopped going to bed with politics and, indeed, politicians, but played its part in peace building.

Bullying and intimidation of courts by lawyers is a sign of lawlessness. Lawyers ought to turn the wheels of justice for all and not puncture the tyres of the entire criminal justice system through harassment in favour of a few.

Who says lawyers and judges cannot be corrupt? When LSK comes out screaming because their peer is facing corruption allegations, they mean to say lawyers and judges are above the law. That is misleading.

Let the courts do their work in an environment free of bullying and coercion.


Journalists should use right to information laws to boost work

By VICTOR BWIRE
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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s willingness at the recent media roundtable in Mombasa to share the contractual agreements on the standard gauge railway raised a fundamental question: How have the media used the right to access information to push for government-held information?

And to what extent have the media used the laws and administrative codes on the right to information to seek content that they give the audiences or comment on matters of public interest? If the President is willing to share the document voluntarily, could the media, for example, push to be given the agreements on oil, gas, coal and other such information under the Access to Information Act?

RESPONSIBILITY

Similarly, those handling government communication also ought to learn and practise proactive information disclosure, especially relating to these big government projects. The documents should have been shared already.

The lack of an official way of communication to the public has seen consistent protocol goofs, conflicting information, inadequate communication, slow flow of information, lack of basic tools and equipment in government and poor projection of the government’s image.

In the era of constitutional requirements of Articles 33, 34 and 35, information sharing — for that matter, credible and factual information released in a timely manner — is central to managers, including those in the government. Kenya is a signatory to the Open Government Partnership and has, on many occasions, indicated its commitment to open governance and adherence to the Constitution.

The media would greatly benefit and insulate themselves from harassment, including judicial processes, if they wrote requests to public agencies for specific information or tracked it through the agencies’ open portals or private commentators on public matters.

Instead of people demanding responsibility from sources of stories and information used by journalists, pressure is being mounted on the media alone.

ENRICH STORIES

In an effort to balance the many interests, the media are forced to irresponsibly report on some issues. That could spur cases of defamation, media harassment and the possibility of the media reporting in a manner that leads to violence.

Amid the increasingly wrong breaking news or one-sided speculative stories, many people start being sceptical towards the media as a tool for conveying objective information.

A number of players have come up with ways to enhance information availability to journalists, which the latter can tap into and enrich their stories with facts and depth. With the myriad of ICT platforms, accountability and transparency, tracking the information posted on open data portals by public agencies has become easy and affordable.

Platforms such as websites, the Kenya Open Data Portal, Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) and social media accounts for government departments and officials have increased the avenues for holding government to account.

Journalists should use these tools in their investigative work.

Mr Bwire is the programmes manager and a journalists safety trainer at the Media Council of Kenya. [email protected]


Our education system, exams ruining an entire generation

By NJERI KINYANJUI
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With the release of last year’s KCPE and KCSE exam results, and as successful Standard Eight candidates join Form One this week, many are left wondering why there should be many students receiving grade D and below in Form Four.

I think we, adults, are failing the young people by labelling them as failures. We need to be honest about our examinations, or even the education system.

First, the results do not reflect a normal curve distribution of the population. Candidates should be concentrated in the mean or median score — around grade C-plus, C plain and C-minus.

FEEL ENTITLED

In our case, the majority lie at the tail-end of the normal curve with D-plus and below. This skewed curve tells us that all is not well with our exams. Don’t the questions come from the syllabus?

The concerned authorities need to take responsibility for destroying generations of students, making a few feel a sense of entitlement that they have passed an exam which everybody else failed. This is reflected in the behaviour of the Kenyan elites who do not give way on the roads or often jump the queue. Words such as “sorry” or “excuse me” do not exist in their vocabulary. They feel entitled to success where everybody else is a failure, making the rest of us hopeless, desperate and angry.

We see this kind of people every day — angry drivers on the roads and hopeless youth, who are alcoholics — and then we wonder where they came from. They are a product of an education that taught them not to care to respect the rules. We destroyed their human dignity.

Secondly, the skewed curve tells us that something is wrong with the delivery of the subject matter in schools. Are our teachers doing their job? If not, what do they do every day when they report to school? The Teachers Service Commission and trade unions ought to come clear on what happened to the teacher who was passionate about the welfare of students.

RESTORE DIGNITY

I remember with nostalgia my primary school headmaster, Mwalimu Lazarus Matheri, a teacher, catechist and opinion leader, who dedicatedly saw to it that pupils got their best. The TSC should seek to restore the image and dignity of the teacher. It should do some soul-searching and come up with strategies to call in the teacher rather than calling them out.

Thirdly, these results do not prepare our students for the global competition in the 21st century. We need a reinvention of the teacher, so that they can have the passion of their predecessors of the 1960s, who took over from whites and were dedicated enough to show that we were as intelligent as any other people, or we will lose an entire generation.

Fourth, the skewed curve defeats the very essence of tests and measurements in education. I remember Prof Raphael Munavu and Ms Bali’s lessons that tests and measures are meant to help to assess the coverage of a subject matter and in planning where to allocate resources so that improvements can be made in education. That kind of skew shows we are not allocating our resources as we should. By now, we should have come up with intervention for poorly performing schools and students. But it seems we do not learn; year in, year out, we post the same distorted results.

EXAM CHEATING

Fifth, the results tell us that the environment in which the exam is done is not right. An environment of a stressful exam, where teachers are absent and tests are administered by armed police, is unnatural. It appears that most of our students cannot cope with this environment; we need to measure their anxiety levels.

The war against exam cheating might create other problems. If the sight of a policeman with a gun scares me, what about these boys and girls? The cheats, if known, should be punished. But because we hire the wrong people, just because they are our relatives or tribesmen, it’s difficult to offer credible exams.

The problem began when we made education the preserve of a few; when we stopped educating people and transferring knowledge for human dignity and began a trend of educating for jobs. We need to go back to the basics of education: Making students the best version of themselves.

Dr Kinyanjui is a researcher at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), the University of Nairobi, and an author. [email protected]


Knut seeks TSC letters to build strong case at conciliation meeting

By FAITH NYAMAI
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The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has asked its members with diplomas and degrees to submit their employer acknowledgment letters to its offices to enable it to build a strong case at the ongoing conciliation meeting with the Ministry of Labour and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

In a circular to members, Secretary-General, Mr Wilson Sossion, said the union is happy that the Career Progression Guidelines were scrapped, and that teachers will now be promoted according to their code of regulations and the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The union has also advised all teachers who were forcibly delocalised to appeal to the TSC.

“TSC has been given up to February 15 to review all cases, and no teacher who seeks a review will be victimised, harassed or intimidated in any way” he assured the teachers, adding that they should send copies of their appeals to the union’s headquarters.

“Knut has established a desk specifically to handle the same,” he added.

Last week, the court set aside the transfers of Knut branch officials beyond the geographical limits of the branches they are serving.

Mr Sossion asked the officials transferred to submit their particulars to the union by January 8.

The TSC has been forced to consider the union’s views following an order by the Labour court last Wednesday that it hold discussions with the teachers union, which it appeared to have shunned.

Before the court directive, Knut and the commission were engaged in a war of might, with each side digging in, a situation that threatened to paralyse the reopening of schools for first term. Over the last year, the TSC and Knut have been involved in a battle as they sought to streamline the teaching profession.

DICTATORSHIP

Sources revealed to the Nation that even as negotiations were going on, TSC was working behind the scenes to ensure that teachers were compelled to go to class when schools reopened, and that all transferred heads reported to their new stations, a move the Knut leadership viewed as dictatorship.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed also had to step in and assure parents that the government was working to ensure schools reopened as scheduled.

According to TSC, the four issues under discussion are purely administrative and policy in nature, and do not qualify to be considered labour disputes.

The commission says the transfers, promotions and the performance appraisal, which the teachers question, are in their code of regulations.

It also argues that the matters in dispute cut across the entire public service sector, and are not unique to teachers

Knut, for its part, says the issues affecting teachers must be negotiated and agreed upon.


Performance of Nyanza governors an 'embarrassment', Mbadi says

By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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Orange Democratic Movement party chairman John Mbadi has sparked a storm in Nyanza, accusing four local governors of having failed to deliver development to their people.

In a statement likely to create an uproar from the county bosses, Mr Mbadi termed the performance of Governors Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Zachary Obado (Migori), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Mr Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) as “embarrassing to say the least”.

Speaking at the burial of Kefa Tuju, the brother of Cabinet Secretary without portfolio Mr Raphael Tuju in Rarieda, he asked residents to replace the so-called technocrats with seasoned politicians and reformers in 2022.

He spoke to an audience largely composed of locals and several MPs and senators. None of the governors were in attendance. The remarks from the MP, who also harbours an ambition to be Governor of Homa Bay, could put the county bosses on the defensive.

The funeral was attended by Senate minority leader Mr James Orengo, MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) as well as Jubilee party vice chairman David Murathe and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

Mr Mbadi did not table evidence but accused the county bosses of using their time in office to amass wealth through pilferage of public funds.

Of the four governors, only Prof Nyong’o is serving his first term, having defeated incumbent Jack Ranguma. In November, a survey by TIFA (Trends and Insights for Africa) Research polled Nyong’o as the best performing governor nationally, even though he only scored 56 points, a C+.

All the four governors passed through controversial party primaries that left in their wake disgruntled opponents in Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori. Main rivals went ahead to contest as independent candidates. In fact, in Homa Bay, an independent candidate (Oyugi Magwanga) won the court petition in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and Mr Awiti is only in office because the Supreme Court is yet to decide his fate.

He said there were people who have walked the journey with ODM leader Mr Odinga for years, and some have been imprisoned during the struggle for reforms and therefore understand the plight of the people and the urge for development. 


French firm to build 40MW solar plant in Eldoret

By BRIAN NGUGI
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Kenya-based French solar firm Alten Africa has picked compatriot renewable energy firm Voltalia to build its 40-megawatt (MW) solar plant in Eldoret.

Alten said Voltalia it already started construction at the Uasin Gishu project last December.

“Alten Africa ratifies the choice of Voltalia to execute the EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) and O & M (operations, and plant maintenance) service for its new photovoltaic plant in Kenya,” said Alten in a statement.

“The plant, located in Uasin Gishu, in the municipality of Eldoret, will have 40MW installed capacity, accounting for two percent of the country’s total capacity,” said.

Alten said it has already informed electricity distributor Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC of its choice of the French Voltalia to carry out the construction and operation and maintenance service on the plant.

“This solar project is to be built on a land area of 100 hectares and will have over 161,000 monocrystalline panels set into solar single-axis trackers,” said Alten.

“Once it goes into commercial operation, scheduled for March 2020, approximately 123.6GWh of clean electricity will be injected every year into the electric network, enough to meet the annual energy consumption needs of over 824,000 Kenyans.”

The Kesses power plant will add to the many electricity projects that have been started or are planned as the country races to raise output to 5,000MW and cut the cost of electricity to consumers by half.

“The new photovoltaic plant will produce an estimated total of 123.6 GWh / year. It will be Alten Africa’s first utility scale project in Kenya and one of the largest solar power stations in East Africa,” said Alten.

The government targets universal electricity access by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2017. Alten earlier in May 2018 inked a power purchase deal with Kenya Power for another 50-megawatt solar project located in Kopere, Nandi County.

The two solar projects rival Rural Electrification Authority (REA) East Africa’s largest solar power plant being developed in northern Kenya.

REA earlier said its completion, earlier set for December, would boost the manufacturing sector — one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic revival strategy.


NTSA stokes confusion with new matatu directive

By GALGALLO FAYO
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The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) says the 14-seater matatu ban will affect only those terminating within the Nairobi Central Business District, even as operators claim the move has caused more confusion.

In a statement on Wednesday, NTSA clarified that licensing of vehicles that do not pass through Nairobi’s CBD will continue.

But the Association of Matatu Operators says that NTSA has not put in place a mechanism of implementation of the same hence creating confusion since the Road Service Licence (RSL) issued to Saccos and companies indicates routes that can be operated by vehicles belonging to such organisations regardless of capacity.

“The authority continues to renew road service licence (RSL) for all 14-seater PSV’s that do not pass through central business district (CBD) of Nairobi City. We are indeed facilitating and encouraging the 14-seater PSV operators, especially those who have access to CBD to get alternative routes,” reads the statement by NTSA.

NTSA further states that it has complied with the court order issued on December 19, 2018 suspending the directive.

The order was obtained by 24 matatu saccos.

But Association of Matatu Operators spokesperson John Methu Njoroge said that the NTSA directive has caused confusion since the RSLs are issued to saccos and companies for routes.

Mr Njoroge, who is also the chairman of Metro Trans East Africa, says that most of the saccos and companies have vehicles of different capacities in their fleet and NTSA has not explained how to differentiate.

When contacted by the Business Daily, NTSA director-general Francis Meja declined to respond to the issues raised by the matatu operators.

The matata owners questioned the wisdom of locking out the 14-seater vehicles out from the CBD arguing that all those operating from upcountry terminate their routes in Nairobi and the authority has not given such operators an alternative.

Last month, 24 saccos operating 14-seater matatus obtained temporary court orders stopping the NTSA from denying them licences until February 15, 2019.

There are more than 37,000 14-seater matatus on Kenyan roads as per the Economic Survey data.

The Association of Matatu Operators that represents 195 saccos last week moved to court accusing NTSA of declining to license its members on grounds that they are not part of the suit and therefore cannot enjoy the High Court order.

Legal Notice 179 of December 31, 2014 that stopped licensing of 14-seater matatus came into effect on January 1.

NTSA has declined to extend protection of the order to other saccos.

The association claims that the court decision is binding to all saccos across the sector regardless of whether someone is a party to it or not, terming NTSA’s interpretation of the order as discriminatory and unreasonable.

The High Court has asked the association to serve NTSA and return to court for further directions on January 11.


Kerosene, charcoal prices rise most, hit poor homes

By LYNET IGADWAH
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Charcoal and Kerosene prices last year rose the most among goods used to calculate inflation, hurting the poor who use the commodities for lighting and cooking.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data show charcoal prices rose 70 per cent to Sh141 per a four-kilogramme tin in December—recording the highest price last year.

Kerosene came in second with a 46 per cent to Sh106 a litre.

The charcoal price surge is linked to a ban on logging while that of kerosene is attributed to tax increase targeted at discouraging unscrupulous traders from fuel adulteration.

“Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ Index, increased by 0.07 per cent in December 2018 compared to November 2018,” said KNBS.

The government on February 24 suspended logging in public forests, triggering a sharp rise in timber and charcoal prices.

A four-kilogramme tin of charcoal retailed at an average of Sh83 before the ban.

In November, the government extended the anti-logging ban for a year in the push to boost forest cover — which has been diminishing in recent years and remains far below the UN minimum recommended level of 10 percent.

Higher kerosene tax hit poor homes that rely on the fuel to power cooking stoves and lanterns, along with small-time fishermen who use kerosene lamps for fishing

Kerosene prices shot past the Sh100 mark a litre following imposition of the Sh18 anti-adulteration levy. The commodity retailed at an average of Sh72 per litre in December 2017.

kerosene was priced at Sh20 below diesel before the imposition of the tax, encouraging rogue traders to mix paraffin with the motor fuel in search for higher profit margins.

Lower tax on kerosene was originally meant to cushion low-income households from high cost of living but profit-hungry traders turned it into a cash cow from sale of adulterated fuel.


IEBC set to announce Ugenya, Embakasi South by-polls date

By DAVID MWERE
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The electoral commission is on Monday morning expected to announce the date for by-elections in Ugenya and Embakasi South constituencies.

The by-polls will take place since the Supreme Court nullified the election of MPs Christopher Karan (Ugenya) and Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South) in the August 8, 2017 general election.

The imminent announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), chaired by Mr Wafula Chebukati, comes after National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi issued writs on Friday, officially declaring the seats vacant.

Other than Mr Chebukati, the IEBC has two other commissioners — Mr Boya Molu and Mr Abdi Guliye.

Vice-chairperson Connie Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat resigned early 2018 while Dr Roselyn Akombe quit ahead of the repeat October 26, 2017 presidential election.

On Sunday, National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai confirmed that the speaker had notified the IEBC and that the writs were dispatched to the Government Printer for publication in the Kenya Gazette.

“The delay by a day was caused by the delay in serving the House with the Supreme Court orders [on] Ugenya, which were served on Thursday afternoon,” Mr Sialai said.

The Supreme Court overturned the election of the two MPs on December 21 last year.

In the case of Ugenya, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision to cancel Mr Karan’s election, Justice Hannah Okwengu pointing out that irregularities subverted the people’s will.

Mr Karan then moved to the Supreme Court but it ordered a fresh election.

In the case of Embakasi South, the apex court said the commission could not show the contents of the original form 35A, so doubt was cast on the accuracy on the declaration of Mr Mawathe as winner.

On Friday, businessman Jairus Mulei Musyoka announced that he had joined the Embakasi South race.

He said he was ready to face heavy-weights Mawathe and former MP Irshad Sumra.