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Sunday, October 20th, 2019

 

How tea farmers can easily turnaround their fortunes

By FRANCIS WANYANGA
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The recent exposé by the Daily Nation about the goings-on in the tea sector shows how cartels in the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have reduced the farmer to a life of servitude while theirs remains in the first lane.

With the advantage of this knowledge, farmers should push for change.

To see the typical farmer’s predicament in perspective, the average annual production of green leaf is 2,000kg per year.

The total pay at Sh45 per kilo is Sh90,000. Less plucking cost at Sh12 per kilo is Sh24,000, while fertiliser cost is Sh7,500.

The net income for this farmer with dependants is therefore under Sh60,000 or Sh5,000 per month, the bulk of which is paid after one year. This is breeding poverty, whichever way you look at it.

To save the farmer from total collapse, deliberate steps must be taken to raise the amount of money that reaches him to at least Sh100 per kilo, paid promptly upon receipt.

The rain began beating the farmer when KTDA unilaterally modified the original mandate, which was crop-husbandly, processing plants, staffing and management, marketing, sales and remittance of sales proceeds.

Today, greed by directors has led to this mandate being exercised through nine entities, which ensure each of the 12 directors sits in several boards and committees.

This has resulted in a steady flow of fees and allowances as well as increased operational costs.

Additionally, the transparent auction system has been muddled with a direct selling system with a built-in 90-day credit, which affects at least 30 per cent of all produce and confers staff leeway to play games.

Most annoying, KTDA has been exhibiting impunity while global tea output is on the rise.

Global production has hit six billion kilos, up from five billion in less than a decade, out of which Kenya contributes 440 million kilos and China about 500 million kilos.

UAE and Germany have now joined the top six leading exporters after China, Kenya, Sri Lanka and India.

To rescue the sector, the following changes should be effected. The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) proposed legislation, which would reform KTDA, should be enacted fast.

Value addition for export should begin with acquisition of overseas supply chains. Outlaw all non-transparent sales practices as presently carried out at KTDA.

LEADERSHIP QUALITY

Amend Companies Act 2015, which removed age limits for public company directors, exposing the populace to a medically senile leadership in the public sector. We should learn from recent political events in Algeria.

Raise leadership quality in tea processing firms by amending the colonial Memorandum and Articles of Association to allow for direct election of all directors by all shareholders, which would conform to World Best Practice.

Today, a director who will end up on the KTDA board is elected by growers from a tiny constituency possibly of clansmen.


Sports bodies can do better

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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This year’s Safari Sevens rugby tournament had some of the world’s best teams for the first time in many years.

It was great to host South Africa and Spain, which are some of the World Rugby Sevens Series core side, Zimbabwe, the Africa champions, and international select side Samurai.

The tournament has faced serious challenges over the years, which culminated in the event not being hosted in 2017.

Though it bounced back, it witnessed one of the lowest turnouts by foreign competition and fans.

However, with the event celebrating its 23rd anniversary, many would have expected the organisers to be on top of their game.

While other departments seem to have been working well, the media were completely forgotten.

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Besides not putting up a press centre, journalists were left queuing for long before being let in despite having applied for accreditation on time.

PRESS CENTRE

The media appeared only vital to Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) when the officials received sponsorship from several companies, but not when the event started.

Such a high calibre event should have a working press centre to serve the local and international media. It would not have cost much to put one up as the union has good partners.

But it’s not only in rugby where journalists have been treated shabbily. Other sports federations hosting major events are equally guilty.

They need to learn from major world championships that make media centres a top priority.

When Kenya hosted the World Under-18 athletics championships in 2017, IAAF insisted on a media centre being set up to ease live coverage.

Federations must recognise the vital role the media play in promoting talent whenever they host such events.


Real patriotism begins with you, Mr President

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The thrust of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech during Sunday’s Mashujaa Day celebrations was national unity, underscoring the fact that pervasive division motivated by ethnic and political interest are a major impediment to the country’s progress.

Unity remains an elusive pursuit because of perpetual mistrust. Politicians particularly thrive on ethnic mobilisation, which involves demonising others and using positions of influence to support their communities at the expense of others and implanting seeds of ethnic hatred.

Already, there is intense division in the political scene linked to presidential succession as President Kenyatta’s term ends in 2022.

Triggering this was the handshake between President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga in March last year.

The ruling Jubilee Party is divided right down the middle. A group within the party supports the handshake that’s pushing for national unity, while the other revolving around Deputy President William Ruto is fiercely opposed to the initiative it views as a ploy to stop the latter’s ascendancy to the presidency.

NATIONAL RESOURCES

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But even among the supporters of the handshake, there is no clarity on what it’s all about.

The unity question is deep. Achieving it goes beyond political pacts to structures and systems that gives it force.

It must go beyond political rhetoric. One of the reasons for ethnic animosities is the skewed access to national resources.

Throughout our history, political leaders have entrenched a culture where they allocate more resources and opportunities to their regions or members of their community to the exclusion of others.

Which is the reason why in the clamour for constitutional change, there was push for equity in resource allocation and distribution.

Therefore, devolution was intended to cure the anomalies of unequal distribution of resources.

Moreover, the Constitution pushes for meritocracy to allow equal access to State positions by virtue of abilities.

POLITICAL WILL

Despite the constitutional provisions, the inequalities persist.

Some regions get more opportunities compared to others and which reflects the power of political influence and which undermines the pursuit for unity.

In recent months, the government has singularly demonstrated bias towards the elderly, who get lucrative appointments to the exclusion of the youth and women.

In effect, the argument being made here is that the push for national unity must be demonstrated through governmental interventions.

At the same time, President Kenyatta made an appeal for patriotism, beseeching the citizens to act with integrity and exercise their civic duties such as paying taxes, whistle-blowing and fighting corruption.

That sounds good at the conceptual level. Enforcing that, however, begins from the top.

Political leaders must first show patriotism in word and deed. That is when the citizens can follow suit.


Finlays to close two flower farms

The challenges include high labour costs and decreasing demand for roses.


Uhuru launches refurbished Mama Ngina Waterfront Park

PSCUBy PSCU
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President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially opened Mama Ngina Waterfront Park that was redeveloped at Sh460 million.

The seaside public park was reopened to the public on Sunday for the 10th Mashujaa Day fete.

The 26-acre park that overlooks the Kilindini Channel in Mombasa has been transformed into an integrated urban tourist attraction site.

The refurbishment included landscaping and paving the waterfront with concrete blocks, construction of an amphitheatre, the Kilindini Cultural Centre, ablution blocks and two main gates.

Tourists visiting the park will attend cultural exhibitions, shop, dine at open-air fresco restaurants and cafes or relax at the expansive site.

Mama Ngina Park launchA fireworks display during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official opening of the Mama Ngina Waterfront Park on October 20, 2019. PHOTO | PSCU

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The project is designed to support a 24-hour economy and its layout includes a new jetty for water taxis.

The Tourism ministry is optimistic that the park will attract more local and foreign tourists to Mombasa, Kenya’s oldest town and the country’s second city.

President Kenyatta commissioned construction of the park in January, saying he expected it to restore the glory of Mombasa as a  top tourist destination in the region.

The redevelopment that was undertaken by a local company, Suhufi Agencies, was completed in time for the Mashujaa Day fete.

Mama Ngina Park launchPresident Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto interact with Mombasa residents during the official opening of the Mama Ngina Waterfront Park on October 20, 2019. PHOTO | PSCU

GRAND DISPLAYS

The celebrations took place in Mombasa County as part of the counties’ rotational hosting of national events.

The official opening was marked by a retinue of entertainment activities that included fireworks displays, traditional dances and acrobatic shows.

Deputy President William Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho were among those present.

Mama Ngina Park launchPresident Uhuru Kenyatta with leaders including DP William Ruto, Tourism CS Najib Balala and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho during the official opening of the Mama Ngina Waterfront Park on October 20, 2019. PHOTO | PSCU


How Moi celebrated Mashujaa Day

ERIC MATARABy ERIC MATARA
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As President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyans in celebrating Mashujaa Day at the Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa, retired President Daniel arap Moi marked the day in a low-key fashion at his Kabarnet Gardens residence, in Nairobi.

Mzee Moi’s Press Secretary, Lee Njiru, told the Nation that the former Head of State followed the celebrations live on television.

“Mzee Moi celebrated Mashujaa Day at his Kabarnet Gardens home in Nairobi with close family members and friends,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

The former President hailed men and women who have made marks in the lives of Kenyans and the country’s development at large.

He also acknowledged Kenya’s freedom fighters, whom he noted endured great pain and suffering rallying others against the colonialists in order to earn the country freedom.

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“He saluted heroes and heroines whose hard work, courage, patriotism and perseverance have had a great impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the country and urged Kenyans to emulate them and contribute towards the prosperity of the country,” Mr Njiru said in a statement.

MEDICAL CHECKS

Mzee Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years between 1978 and 2002, has not been active in politics but has been in the limelight due to the delegations he has been receiving at his Kabarak home.

He turned 95 on September 2 at a private function at his Kabarak home in the company of family and friends.

Last Sunday, he visited the Nairobi Hospital for routine medical check-ups, accompanied by his physician, Dr David Silverstein.

Mr Njiru said a medical team led by Dr Silverstein gave him a clean bill of health.

In December 2018, the former Head of State was admitted at the same hospital for a few nights for routine medical examinations, according to his doctor.


Dam projects costing govt more than they should: report

DAVID MWEREBy DAVID MWERE
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A parliamentary committee has warned that the government risks not getting value for the Sh120 billion invested in the construction of eight dams across the country.

It has emerged that some of the projects are way behind schedule while others stalled after the contractors pulled out, despite having been paid billions of shillings.

A report by the National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, tabled in the House last Thursday, recommended a raft of measures, including special audits of some of the dams as well as their financing models.

The committee chaired by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki questioned use of the Engineer Procure Construct and Finance (EPCF) financing model, saying it was unnecessarily expensive.

FINANCING MODEL

The team chaired by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki questioned use of the Engineer Procure Construct and Finance (EPCF) financing model, saying it was unnecessarily expensive.

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For instance, it notes that the amounts paid in insurance for the dams’ construction under the model were exorbitant, compared to other financing models.

“This model is, therefore, prone to abuse and value for money may not be efficiently realised,” the report to be debated by MPs says.

The Sh29 billion Itare dam in Nakuru County, that stalled after the contractor, Italian firm CMC di Ravenna, was declared bankrupt, is among those financed using the model.

The construction began in June, 2016, and was due to end by July 2022 but has since stalled.

THWAKE DAM

The Sh36.97 billion Thwake multipurpose dam in Makueni County was meant to provide water for hydropower generation, irrigation and domestic use and was financed by a loan from Africa Development Bank.

It is situated at the confluence of Thwake and Athi rivers but the water from the Athi River feeding into the dam is highly polluted, making it unfit for domestic use.

Only seven percent of the work has been done, although China Gezhouba Group Company Limited has already received a Sh7.4 billion advance payment.

The Sh23.6 billion Karimenu II dam in Kiambu County is also facing challenges.

The committee wants the Auditor-General’s office to investigate the circumstances under the Athi Water Works Development Agency and AVIC International signed agreements, with advance payments made before the necessary land was acquired.

OTHER PROJECTS

Construction of the Sh14 billion Mwache Dam in Kwale County was supposed to start at the beginning of this year but was hampered by delays in compensation of more than 4,000 affected people.

Badasa Dam in Marsabit County was meant to augment Bakuli water supply, which serves Marsabit town and its environs.

It was started in June, 2009 and was scheduled to take 30 months but has stalled, with 57 percent of the work completed.

Construction of the Sh6.83 billion Northern Collector Tunnel, which began in February 2015 and was to be completed in December has also stalled.

“The human resource was not commensurate with the advance payment made, leading to slow progress of works,” the report says.

The committee wants the perpetrators prosecuted for loss of public funds through idle time if culpability is found.


Wetang'ula challenges Uhuru to finish Jubilee projects by 2022

SARAH NANJALABy SARAH NANJALA
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ANITA CHEPKOECHBy ANITA CHEPKOECH
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As President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders marked the 10th Mashujaa Day in Mombasa County on Sunday, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula called for the Jubilee administration to fulfill its promises to Kenyans.

Speaking in Kibra, Nairobi County, during campaigns for Ford Kenya candidate Butichi Khamisi, the party leader said the public will recognise the President as a champion only if he implements his whole agenda.

“Instead of launching new projects, President Kenyatta should use his remaining term to finish the projects he has started,” he said.

“All over the country are stalled roads, dam, water and school projects. There is no need to use billions of shillings on new projects yet the ones already started have stalled.”

KHAMISI’S PLEDGES

Mr Khamisi echoed Mr Wetang’ula’s remarks and told the people that their contributions to the economy, however small, make them champions.

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In the spirit of Mashujaa Day, he said, he will advance former MP Ken Okoth’s legacy by providing services without discrimination and fighting tribalism, which he noted is a big problem in Kibra.

“This is an issue we must be willing to talk about because it affects us all. I will ensure children and the youth in Kibra do not face discrimination because of the tribes or communities they belong to,” he said.

“Bursaries and jobs will be given to those who deserve them and without discrimination.”

UHURU’S SPEECH

Thousands of Kenyans turned up for the 10th Mashujaa Day celebrations which took place at the refurbished Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa.

In his speech, the President highlighted his administrations in sectors such as devolution and infrastructure development.

“We have undertaken tangible steps to address the unique development needs of this region. In the six years [I have been in power], there have been more targeted and concerted focus to develop the Coast region than in any other time in the history of our country,” he told Mombasa residents.

KAMANDA’S APPEAL

Separately, Jubilee Party’s nominated MP Maina Kamanda joined the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in campaigning for Kibra by-election candidate Imran Okoth.

The leader of Jubilee’s Kieleweke political faction accompanied ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna to Kibra’s PEFA church where he asked residents to back the party’s candidate.

Mr Kamanda said his support for ODM’s contender against Jubilee’s McDonald Mariga was meant to strengthen the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“As Jubilee members, we support Imran because we believe this will sustain the peace and coexistence that came with the handshake.

“There is no way ODM can field a candidate in Gatundu or another such constituency in Central Kenya. It would not be right. In the same spirit, let ODM retain the Kibra seat,” he added.

GANDA EFFECT

Mr Sifuna said the party’s victory in the Ganda Ward by-election would reflect positively in Kibra, whose vote will take place on November 7.

Mr Okoth promised to serve Kibra residents diligently and to without bias.

“Church and politics go hand in hand, which is why I am here to ask for your votes. I will lead people in a way that is right with God,” he said.


Gor Mahia edge Sharks to return top

FRANCIS MUREITHIBy FRANCIS MUREITHI
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Record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia left it late to celebrate Mashujaa Day with a 1-0 win over stubborn Kariobangi Sharks in a thrilling match at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru on Sunday.

The 18-time champions were made to wait until stoppage time and it’s Ghanaian Francis Afriyie, who came in for off-colour Ivorian Gnamien Yikpe, who found the breakthrough.

With the match poised to end in a barren draw, another substitute Kennedy Otieno unleashed a volley from the right wing that came off the upright and the ball fell kindly for an unmarked Afriyie who rounded Sharks goalkeeper John Oyemba before slotting into an empty net.

“I am very excited for scoring a goal in this match given that our performance was not at its best,” said Afriyie.

“I am happy my boys were sharper and aggressive in the last quarter. In football, the final whistle determines the winner and today we were made to wait until the last minute,” said Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack.

A disappointed Kariobangi Sharks coach William Muluya claimed Afriyie scored from an offside position.

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“We should have at least shared the spoils if not winning the match but we lost through poor officiating,” said Muluya.

Gor strikers barely troubled Oyemba in the first half and hardly made any dangerous moves that are associated with the champions.

Gor’s best chance arrived at half hour mark but the impressive Boniface Omondi sent his rasping shot over the bar. Sharks replied through Nixon Omondi but his header sailed over the bar in the 35th minute.

On resumption, Gor coach Steve Polack introduced Dickson Ambundo for Samuel Onyango while Kennedy Otieno replaced Boniface Omondi. His opposite number William Muluya brought in Sydney Lokale and Harrison Mwendwa for Daniel Sakari and Shaphan Oyugi respectively.

Ambundo, who added some punch to the hitherto blunt Gor striking force, nearly scored at the hour mark following a throw-in by Geoffrey Ochieng but his header missed the target by inches.

Two minutes later, Ambundo outpaced his markers on the left wing but his brilliant pass went begging.


Police, Strathmore win Shaban Yusuf tournament

AGNES MAKHANDIABy AGNES MAKHANDIA
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Kenya Police and Strathmore University’s Scorpions are the winners of this year’s Shaban Yusuf Memorial Hockey tournament.

Police, who last won the title in 2016, dethroned United States International University of Africa (USIU-A) 3-2 on penalties after a barren draw in regulation time while Scorpions squeezed a 1-0 win over Technical University of Kenya (TUK) at Mombasa Sports Club on Sunday.

The law enforcers scored through Elly Odindo, Willis Okeyo and Richard Birir while Lawrence Makhatsa and Clifford Mwaniki replied for the students in the shoot-out.

Yvonne Karanja scored the lone goal for Strathmore in the women’s final.

On their way to the finals, Police edged hosts Mvita 2-1, while USIU-A overwhelmed TUK 3-2 on penalties having played to barren draw in normal time.

In the women’s semi-finals, TUK beat defending champions Amira Sailors 1-0 while Strathmore also saw off University of Nairobi with a similar score line.

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Strathmore coach Meshack Senge said they hope to build on the win ahead of their weekend tie against USIU-A in the Kenya Hockey Union League match.

The annual event was previously held to celebrate hockey legend and former Boabab Hockey Club Sponsor, the late Agnelo De Souza (SANA) but this time round they celebrated another legend Shaban Yusuf.