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Daily Nation : February 6th 2014
DAILY NATION Thursday February 6, 2014 Opinion 13 A 22-MINUTE DECISION | Ng’ang’a Mbugua It is time to bring Turkana into the fold as one of Kenya’s valued counties report the “discovery of more oil” and deaths from hunger within weeks of each other. Despite its huge potential — those who have travelled there say that the land is rich and the people would thrive if they could get a road and access to water (huge reservoirs were discovered last year) — the region remains one of the most disadvantaged in the country. Even the discovery of oil S and water are yet to entice top honchos in government to wake up and smell the coffee. Yet, with just a little effort, this is a region whose potential to transform the fortunes of its people — and the greater Kenya — is so enormous it does not require rocket science, just political will. In the final analysis, the only thing holding the region back is the lack of a road that would open it up for development. Those who have travelled to the heartland of Turkana say it takes them all of 12 hours to cover about 400 kilometres. And this before factoring in the restrictions on night travel. This distance is equivalent to that from Nairobi to Eldoret. It takes a stretch of the imagination to figure out how a journey that ideally should take less than five hours can gobble all of 12. omething does not add up about Turkana, the region where newspapers Residents of Chokochok in Turkana Central wait for relief food. What is worse, the journey is enough to cause migraine, backache, and spinal and other debilitating injuries. No, these are not caused by crashes or collisions but by the trauma that the human body is subjected to in the torturous journey that no sane man or woman would make given a choice. No wonder Turkana has the highest concentration of airstrips per capita. All the organisations that take the health and wellbeing of their staff seriously choose to fly them in if the call of duty takes them to that part of the planet, which incidentally, is regarded as the cradle of mankind. No wonder it takes some patience to get a seat on a plane to Lodwar. Which raises two questions that one hopes someone in the Cabinet can answer. One, why is it so difficult for modern man to get to his forebears’ original cave by road? Two, are the men, women, and children who are subjected to this torture that disguises itself as travel not citizens of a proud country that expects to be a middle-income economy in the next 20 years? Is it a wonder then that when the people of Turkana meet their compatriots from other regions they ask: “How is Kenya?” In that one greeting, which is more of a lament, is encapsulated the most damning indictment of independent Kenya. The people of Turkana feel that they do not belong. Even when death is visited on them by raiders or drought it is secondary news. Indeed, such news, as we say in the profession, does not sell newspapers. But this is a region that produces cement and sand, both of which, with better infrastructure, could significantly reduce the cost of building and construction. And not just that; it could expand it because building materials would become more readily available, hence cheaper. This is a region with a game reserve but one can hardly get there without risking a dislocated neck bone because the roads are not worth the name. And besides onions, a musthave condiment in practically every Kenyan home, the region now has oil and water. But how will these resources benefit the county and the country if there is no road? Do not mention railway just yet. Since the entire Cabinet stood in unity to show its support for the standard gauge railway, why don’t the honourable Cabinet secretaries make their biggest statement of resolve after the railway and say, “We are going to commit a few billion shillings to tarmac the stretch from Kitale to Lodwar, whether we get funding by looking East or by introducing a new levy or both”, as the government has done with the standard gauge railway. Were that to happen, the cost of transporting goods and people to and from that general region would fall from the current Sh2,000 per person to less than a quarter of that. The menace of bandits preying on motorists who stop to replace runaway wheels will become legend and the number of local and foreign tourists visiting the region to gape at the animals, people, water, oil, and the cradle of mankind will, no doubt, increase. Just one choice — a choice that can be made in 22 minutes by only 22 Kenyans sitting in the House on the hill one Thursday morning — can have such farreaching consequences. firstname.lastname@example.org THE CUTTING EDGE BY THE WATCHMAN STOP ALCOBLOW. The police use of the Alcoblow on motorists should be immediately stopped because it is unconstitutional to force a suspect to provide evidence that can be used against him or her, warns Nakuru resident Wambua Musembi. The officers, he adds, have assigned themselves the power to confirm drunkenness and “yet the efficiency of the tests has not been determined”. It is, he claims, “also a health hazard, as he has seen police blow into the gadget to show suspects how to do so”. His contact is email@example.com Police test a motorist for alcohol on Mombasa road. ELECTION YEAR. According to Mungai Kihanya, the next General Election must be held on August 8, 2017, and he explains: The first year of the Jubilee Government runs from March 4, 2013 to March 3 this year. The second is from March 4 to March 3, next year, the third, from March 4, 2015 to March 3, 2016, the fourth from March 3, 2016 to March 4, 2017, and the final year from March 3, 2017 to March 3, 2018. “Therefore, ‘the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year is the one that appears between March 3, 2017 and March 4, 2018, which is August 8, 2017.” His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. PAYING FOR NO WATER. Urgently calling Nairobi Water Company is Beatrice A. Musiga, a resident of Ruai on the northeastern outskirts of the city. While there are numerous unmanned counters at the various city water company offices, the situation at their satellite office in Ruai is even worse. But most annoying, she claims, is the selective supply of water to residents in the peripheral areas. She calls on Governor Evans Kidero to intervene. “For several years now, I have paid bills without receiving any water. Please come for your meter or I will send it back to you.” Her contact is email@example.com. DEVELOPMENT | Kim Chan-Woo Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, a truly special relationship between the two countries developed. I say special because today, as the two countries commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties, President Park Geun-hye of Korea and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, daughter and son respectively of the then presidents, are at the helm of leadership in the two countries. ‘Creative economy’ is the way to progress O n February 7, 1964, under the leadership of President Park Chung-hee of Korea and President Koreans believe that the way to solve problems is to creatively innovate their way out, hence their pursuit of a creative vision as the new way to drive the economy. Currently, Kenya is working towards be- coming an industrialised middle-income country, as outlined in her Vision 2030 development blueprint. One of the main challenges to the course of this journey is the high unemployment rate. One solution lies in the creation of a manufacturing base. Korea’s willingness to share the lessons learnt from her manufacturing history with Kenya will lead to a win-win situation. Further, as a leading player in ICT, Korea has experiences to share with Kenya in the incorporation of technology to create employment opportunities. Korea believes that the enhancement of the quality of labour and the use of appropriate technology are important for socio-economic development. For this reason, Korea contributed to the Technology Development Centre in Athi River, which has state-of-the-art equipment and modern facilities to offer technology training and transfer. Additionally, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the government of Korea in collaboration with the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) under Kenya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security starting this year will embark on the establishment of the NITA master plan for industrial training. During the recent World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, President Park Geun-hye in her address indicated that economies that seek to tap into the creativity of the human mind will define the future. President Park further said that Koreans believe that the only way to solve problems is to creatively innovate their way out, hence Korea’s pursuit of a creative LANGUAGES OUR HERITAGE. Teaching children vision as the new paradigm for driving the economy. President Park also stressed the importance of combining this creativity with entrepreneurship because whereas creativity begets innovation, entrepreneurship puts this innovation to action. According to the report, Doing Busi- ness 2013, by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, many countries that have improved in the overall ranking made efforts to improve their business-enabling climate. Kenya, therefore, needs to borrow a leaf from such countries to create a friendly environment for entrepreneurs as this is central to socio-economic development. It is this paradigm shift that Korea wants to share with Kenya as we celebrate the golden jubilee of our diplomatic relations. I believe that a creative economy offers the solution to unemployment, income disparities, and slow economic growth. I look forward to seeing products made in Kenya being exported all over the world. Today we have an opportunity to look back at the success of cooperation between our two countries and ahead to the realisation of this noble dream even as we aim kuenda pamoja tukisonga mbele (forge ahead together). Kim Chan-Woo is the Korean ambassador to Kenya in their mother tongue, in addition to English and Kiswahili, is not retrogressive, remarks X.N. Iraki, adding that it, in fact, gives the young ones more versatility in interacting with one another and with their own environment. He poses: “Why do we look down upon our God-given languages, which are part of the world heritage? We should teach our languages up to university.” His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. REFUND DEPOSIT. Keen to benefit from the ru- ral electrification programme in Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri County, Cosmas Wanjohi applied and promptly paid a deposit of Sh34,980 six months ago. This included a Sh2,500 deposit for the meter. However, after the transformer was installed, he was asked to pay another deposit of Sh2,500. He later sought a refund of one of the deposits and was assured by customer care that it would be done. But to date, nothing has happened. His contact is email@example.com. USER-UNFRIENDLY. Some time back, Kenneth Wandua complained that the designers of the brand new Thika Road Mall in Nairobi had failed to make the toilets at the facility, which is frequented by hordes of families, user-friendly, especially for little children. He is particularly incensed at having little boys exposed to “indecency in the toilets for adults”. Management, he adds, will possibly be interested to know that some of his own friends and other parents are now shunning the mall and will lobby more to join them until special washrooms for children are provided. His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org Have a caring day, won’t you! E-mail: email@example.com or write to Watchman, POB 49010, Nairobi 00100. Fax 2213946.
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February 7th 2014