Whereas critics have christened this phase of the SGR as “a railroad to nowhere”, the benefits that will accrue from it cannot be overstated.
This launch was part of the Kenya Railways Master Plan that sets to transform the national and regional network with a view to providing efficient, safe and reliable rail transport.
For starters, this will be an efficient railway network catering for increased demand for passenger and cargo transport along the northern corridor, besides addressing traffic congestion within the urban and peri-urban areas.
Second, the railway line will play a huge role in the decongestion of the port of Mombasa as the increased capacity of transport infrastructure will meet the existing transport demand at the port.
Inside Nachu tunnel on the SGR route to Naivasha.
The region is also set to become a competitive investment destination as the SGR will lead to higher speeds, reducing transit times between destinations, and consequently, lower costs of production. Additionally, better access to markets will aid the exploitation of resources.
Finally, the railway will ensure seamless connectivity that will enhance regional integration, reduce carbon emissions and wear and tear of roads, thus lower maintenance costs.
Breathtaking views and designs
The design of the railway distinctly changes even before the train can enter the Nairobi National Park. For peaceful and sustainable co-existence with the animals, through the park, the train passes on top of a 6.563-kilometre bridge, hoisted by a total of 198 piers, 178 of which are within the park itself. The rail design through the park additionally features two abutments.
“With the bridge, animals, even tall ones like giraffes, can continue moving freely within the park,” says Kenya Railways. The shortest pier, the SGR management states, is 7.5 metres tall, tall enough to allow the unobstructed movement of giraffes.
The bridge at the park is just one of the two along the route, with the other located in Nol Chora. Along the route in the national park, the constructors have placed sound barriers to eliminate noise impact to animals during train operations.
Suswa SGR Terminus Aerial View. PHOTO/COURTESY
The Ngong station, designed to resemble a soaring eagle, symbolising the strength of the locals, will, besides serving Ngong residents, serve a connection point for people commuting from nearby areas such as Karen and Embulbul.
This train will offer great convenience to passengers travelling to and from Mombasa, who would prefer to go straight to Ongata Rongai and Ngong, without stopping in the Nairobi CBD. It also targets residents from Ngong, Rongai and its environs working in Machakos, Industrial Area and the Nairobi CBD.
Naivasha Inland Container Depot
During the launch of the Nairobi-Suswa SGR section, the President also presided over the groundbreaking of the Sh 6.9 billion Naivasha Inland Container Depot. This will address the congestion at Mlolongo and the Embakasi ICD. Besides revolutionizing transport in the Rift Valley and stimulating tourism, the SGR will lead to the creation of a Special Economic Zone as a number of East African Community member states have shown interest in investing in the dry port.
Kenya Railways must be commended for introducing passenger trains from Nairobi South station to Suswa, targeting tourists and locals travelling to and from Western Kenya, Nyanza and lower parts of the Rift Valley.
But the concerns raised by critics and residents of the four towns through which the train passes cannot be wished away. During the launch, Transport and Infrastructure CS James Macharia assured residents the issues of last-mile connectivity are being addressed to ensure commuters have easy access to the train stations.
While critics have opined that the SGR fares are higher than those charged by matatus, a comparison shows the reverse is true. For instance, matatus charge Sh150 from Ngong to the CBD during peak and Sh80 during off-peak hours.
The SGR train, on the other hand, charges a flat fare of Sh70 and Sh50 for connecting through the MGR to the Nairobi CBD. From Ongata Rongai, matatus charge Sh100 to the CBD during peak and Sh70 on off-peak hours, while the SGR train will charge Sh50 and another Sh50 to connect through the MGR to the Nairobi CBD.
From the above observation, SGR fares are still lower than those charged by matatus. Add these to the inconvenience of traffic jams witnessed on our roads, SGR trains remain affordable and convenient.
The increasing cases of evils in our society can be linked to increasing ungodliness and skepticism of which evolution contributes a great deal.
When a child is born, he is exposed to their parent’s religious beliefs and doctrines. They are taught about a friendly God, the Creator of everything and everyone, a God who punishes evil and blesses faithfulness.
Such a child trusts and fears God who is omnipresent and can’t be hidden from.
While in school, the same child is taught that human beings evolved from a lower order of apes (monkeys). The child dismisses religious beliefs and the fear of God is replaced by the fear of the law and the police.
What prevents this child from grabbing lands, robbing, aborting or killing if there is “no God” to punish evil and reward honesty so long as they hide from the law?
Just one year and the calendar will clock 2020. Five years more and Kenya will enter the home stretch of the vision 2030.
But the world, especially the legal fraternity, will be commemorating exactly a 100 yrs since the famous Scope Trial of 1925- the trial of the century.
The Scopes Trial was between John Scopes, a teacher of General Science and the state of Tennessee -USA over the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in school.
The evolution theory was dangerously noted to not only undermine and destroy the religious faith of students but also make them agnostics.
The “Survival for the fittest” doctrine applied to the society was used by the powerful to justify marginalizing the powerless ( giving rise to Marxism).
In fact it was the basis on which the strong ruled over the weak by military force- the recipe for the WW1.
By 1929 about 45 anti-evolution bills were put in place to prohibit the inclusion of Darwinism in text books in 21 states eg. Arkansas, Texas, Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee among others.
Scopes was accused of teaching the evolution theory thus breaching the just enacted Butler’s Law which stated: ” It is unlawful for any teacher to teach any theory that denies the story of Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals… or any other hypothesis that links man in blood relationship to any other form of life.”
The anti-evolution controversy in US was so great and strong that the anti-evolution movement rocked the States and lasted for a good period of time in history.
Darwin’s work states in parts:
” Anatomically, there is a greater difference between the lowest type of monkey and the highest type of ape… ” “At the present time, there exists upon the earth 5 races of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs and to extend structure.”
It then continues to state:” If such people were animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.”
“With savages, the weak in body and mind are soon eliminated.We civilized men on the other hand check the process of elimination.”
Yet I don’t stand to criticize Darwin’s work but my question is : Is it still relevant to teach evolution in our syllabus?
What role does evolution play in solving our social problems?
Is it not ironical that we sing : O GOD OF ALL CREATION in our national anthem but in our classrooms we teach evolution??
The author is a teacher of English and Literature
By Ronald Kosgei
Peter Karanja, the estranged husband of Gilgil Member of Parliament Martha Wangari was reportedly arrested in connection with the murder of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen.
Barely a year after the Gilgil MP alleged that her former husband had threatened to kill her, he is again on the wrong side of the law. Karanja, who is embroiled in a divorce case with Hon Wangari, is the second suspect to be arrested over the gruesome murder of the billionaire businessman, according to NTV.
Sources familiar with the suspect, who operated outside the gates of Lake Nakuru Lodge and at the time was known to wear a turban, say he had been operating his taxi business since the 90s until 2006. “He was a friendly and out-going man,” said a source.
He was a campaigner for Kibaki in Gilgil and parts of Nakuru during his second term. Ms Wangari was also in the Warembo na Kibaki brigade. The two worked together and as fate would have it, they became an item. Karanja’s social capital went up when he hooked up with the MP, then a young university graduate with political ambitions. He got the opportunity to meet high flying political figures crisscrossing the Rift Valley region in search of votes.
PK as he is locally known, was a constant face in Martha’s rallies. The carefully choreographed show of love endeared the couple to crowds, translating into votes on Election Day. But away from the limelight, husband and wife were experiencing problems.
Consequently Martha walked out of her marriage accusing PK of adultery, violence, alcoholism, stinginess and desertion.
“I loved this man and I have given this relationship my all. But the physical violence has gotten to a point I know I will be killed. It was better for me to walk out of the relationship than die and leave my children,” she said.
Speaking to The Nairobian last year, Ms. Wanjari accused her husband of five years of being an “emotionally and physically abusive man who beat her up and never provided for their children.”
It is the interrogation of Mr Karanja and the Cohen’s worker that led detectives to the septic tank out of which Mr Cohen’s body was pulled out Friday. He confessed to being more than a friend and business parther to Cohen’s wife.
Karanja was the master of ceremony at the wedding of Cohen’s adopted daughter.
According to the post, the man who is now a main suspect in the case named Cohen’s wife (Sarah) as an evil genius. He also said his job was just to get rid of the body.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Boss George Kinoti said the tycoon was tortured before he was murdered and his body dumped in an underground water tank at his home.
Charity Ngilu, the governor of Kitui County is on the spot after she was involved in a Ksh85 million fraudulent Ballast Crusher scheme.
In social media statements one John Mbaki, Yatta Kwa Vonza ward MCA faulted the contract for supply , delivery , installation and commissioning of a stationary stone crusher plant, 100-120 Tons /hr contract signed between the county government of Kitui and EDN George Diesel Ltd.
EDN George Diesel Ltd which is registered under two Directors ( George Mungai & Nancy Wachira) who also happen to be a couple, was awarded a tender worth Ksh 85,305,490.09 by the county government of Kitui. The contract, however, was on condition that EDN agree to open a new bank account with SIDIAN BANK and accommodate a relative to the county CEO’s son in-laws (JOHN ODUOR) as a mandatory Signatory to the account.
EDN would then comply and open an account on 23/05/18 with Sidian bank AC # 01036020003040 with John Oduor as a signatory. In the next two days the county government through the ministry of trade immediately signed the contract.
Before the hurried approval of this contract the CEC for Trade had a quotation from one of the leading crusher plants manufacturers in China Ref. No.: SS201801190422A dated 19-01-2018 with total final price cost insurance & freight up to Mombasa (CIF) of the plant at US$ 212,433
The county governments of Makueni and Kitui respectively signed a contract to construct the Thwake Multi-Purpose Dam
EDN went ahead to source for the ballast crusher from Shanghai Zenith minerals sales CO, ltd and a proforma invoice was forwarded to him via email at Us$ 379,532 CIF Mombasa. They prepared import declaration form # E1807897755 and the same was approved by Kenya Revenue Authority customs department on 06/07/2018. At this stage Ksh 17,061,098 was paid by the county government to EDN through their new account with Sidian bank.
Valued at KSh 36.9 billion, the dam is expected to end the perennial water crisis that has for years stalled development in the region
Shanghai Zenith minerals sales CO, ltd issued another invoice for the same plants dated 16/10/2018 with a suspect increment in the CIF MSA from us$ 379,532 to Us$ 396,232. EDN would then on 28/08/18 apply for another Import declaration form based on the new figures IDF # E180995400 which was also instantly approved.
The plant was shipped under Bill of landing # 142801508896 and on 11/11/2018 the cargo landed and cleared via customs entry number 2018 ICD 60812 which only shows Ksh 1,463,269 was paid as customs dues through the NIC bank on 27/11/2018.
Suspecting illegality, Mbaki went ahead and sought a quotation for the equivalent Stationary stone crusher plant with 100-120 tons/hr capacity from Shanghai Zenith minerals sales CO, ltd on August 14th 2019 and the same sales manager who sold the county crusher responded with a quotation amounting to only US$ $208,499 compared to the county governments Us$ 396,232.
To figure out how the scheme was orchestrated, the MCA sought to confirm if the sales manager Shanghai Zenith minerals sales CO, ltd would factor in his margins on their cost and pay US$ 300,150 for the plant and then they would refund the difference of US$ 91,651 to his account based on their formal quotation.
“ we could do this for you but a 10% fee will be charged . This is our company rule. As a result you will have back Us$ 82,486 as US$ 9,165 will be charged” The sales manager quickly responded. The sales manager then went ahead and quickly generated another proforma invoice totaling US$ 300,150 dated Sept 6th 2019.
Genuine quotations from SBM and Zenith confirm that this plant would cost between Us$ 200,000- Us$ 215,000 meaning kitui county lost approximately Ksh 19,000,000 on the cost, insurance & freight up to Mombasa via the well-orchestrated fraud.
According to the Auditor General’s report the item was not in the procurement plan contrary to Section 53(2) of PPAD Act,2015, no tender evaluation report was availed, particulars of the persons who submitted tenders or their representatives who attended the opening of tenders was not provided contrary to Section 78(10) (b) of the PPAD Act, 2015, regrets letters to unsuccessful bidders were not provided for audit review contrary to Section 87(3) of PPAD Act, 2015 and the geological survey report on suitability and viability of the project was not even availed.
This proves the Executive was in breach of the law and there was no certainty that the County residents would get value for money for the first payment of Ksh 17,061,098 as at 30th June 2018.
The project was expected to provide 23 million tonnes of ballast required for the construction of Thwake Dam. The ward representative says the initial machinery was not transparently procured and the crusher ownership remains unclear, with the MCA promising to release more evidence.
DWhen Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo flew to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa, he avoided Kenyan airspace.
This comes at a time when the two countries were involved in a diplomatic tiff over immigration rules, was telling to some observers.
The deterioration of relations between the two neighbours has been blamed on the dispute over the maritime border in a resource-rich triangle in the Indian Ocean, which is the subject of a case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
The area in the Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute is about 100,000km2 forming a triangle east of the Kenya coast. FILE GRAPHIC
But behind this dispute, analysts say, are economic and political interests as Western, Asian and Gulf powers scramble for the vast gas and oil deposits in the Indian Ocean triangle coveted by the two countries.
What started as an economic dispute over the maritime boundary has now exposed bilateral and internal rifts that are threatening the region, owing to the volatile nature of Somalia’s politics and security situation.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed fails to convince Kenya and Somalia to make love not war
At play are oil companies from the West — Norway, the US, UK, France, Netherlands and Italy — and the political divide in the Middle East that pits a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates against those led by Qatar, jostling for an upper hand in Mogadishu.
Prior to 1991, when Somalia disintegrated into small fiefdoms, oil blocks had been licensed to major oil companies and their subsidiaries, including British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s ENI and Total of France, for offshore evaluation.
Some two-thirds of the oil map was awarded to US firms—Conoco Phillips, Amoco and Chevron.
In 2014, Soma Oil and Gas Exploration Ltd negotiated a deal with Somalia in which it was awarded the right to exploit 12 offshore oil and gas blocks amounting to 60,000 square kilometres.
It is worth noting that current Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khaire, was the executive director for Africa at Soma Oil and Gas before he was appointed PM.
In the current tiff, analysts are unanimous that Kenya and Somalia are too intrinsically connected economically, politically and culturally to afford an escalation.
Dr Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, an analyst of Somali affairs, blames the tension on foreign actors who have interests in Somalia.
Somalia refugee in Kenya’s Dadaab Camp Photo/Courtesy
But he warns that should the antagonism continue, it could result in economic losses for Kenya, given that Somalia is a big market for Kenya’s manufactured goods, miraa (khat) and aviation services, with all flights flying to Somalia registered in Kenya.
Kenyans comprise the biggest foreign labour force in Somalia and Somalis are major investors in Kenya. Eastleigh, a suburb in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, is dominated by Somali traders.
The downstream oil market is also now attracting a lot of interest from Somali investors as is real estate.
But the biggest concern, though, is that the war against Al Shabaab would suffer to the detriment of both countries, especially if Somalia were to stop co-operating with Nairobi in sharing security intelligence.
Also, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi contribute troops to the peacekeeping African Mission in Somalia, Amisom, and have been under pressure from the African Union (for Uganda and Burundi) and internally (for Kenya) to withdraw all or part of their troops from Somalia. The three states have suffered losses of troops and military hardware from Shabaab attacks.
Case at the ICJ
The ICJ is supposed to decide whether the marine boundary between the two countries runs parallel to the line of latitude to the east or southeast as an extension of the land border.
Kenya has time and again requested Somalia to withdraw the case and allow an out-of-court settlement, which could include shared development of the oil and gas resources as it has happened elsewhere on the continent, but Somalia has refused.
Efforts to get Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to mediate have failed.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo with the former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
Both countries are claiming ownership of the 100,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean with its oil and gas deposits, over which Somalia took Kenya to ICJ in 2014, pleading encroachment on its marine territory.
In February, Kenya was angered by Somalia’s hosting of an oil conference in London for potential prospectors in which it allegedly exhibited seismic data of oil blocks in the ICJ case. Mogadishu said that the four blocks in the disputed triangle were not part of the auction.
But while it takes Somalia, it has not been lost on Kenya that the Farmaajo administration appears determined in its pursuit.
Observers say Somalia is confident that the ICJ case will be decided in its favour, perhaps because the court’s president is a Somali.
But internal politics is seen as influencing President Farmaajo’s hardline stance in the dispute and other foreign engagements. He is seeking a second term in office and appearing weak could cost him the seat in the 2021 elections.
After Ramaphosa’s inauguration in Pretoria, the Somali leader met with Somalis living in South Africa with a nationalistic message: “Hold your heads high, we are strong. Nobody can violate Somalia’s territorial integrity.”
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for the first time held a meeting with Somali nationals in South Africa while he attended the inauguration ceremony of newly elected South African president PHOTO/COURTESY
He urged Somalis to stand up for their country and ruled out any possibility of giving out the contested areas.
“As long as we live, no one can take away our land. We will die for it,” he told the cheering crowd.
Ayub Wafula, a lecturer in political science at Kenya’s Kisii University, says Somali politicians will certainly want to act in a way that meets the expectations of the electorate by showing that they will not cede the territory without a fight.
“Somali politicians are telling their people that they are not going to let it go,” he said.
So why is President Farmaajo banking on the ICJ, in the face of diplomatic pressure from Kenya?
“Farmaajo is eagerly waiting for the verdict, since he is seeking re-election. For him, it is a political tool: If the court rules in favour of Somalia, Farmaajo will be the undisputed leader of Somalia for the next four years,” said Dr Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdi.
“He is incapable of negotiating anything for now. If he signs an agreement with Kenya, he will no longer be head of state.
The guy is between a rock and a hard place,” said Dr Abdiwahab
Just moments before his untimely demise on Sunday evening, Kikuyu benga maestro John DeMathew, fondly referred by his adoring fans as Ithe wa Ciku (Ciku’s dad), urged members of his community to fully support the proposed Constitutional amendments.
John De’mathews last performance at Tracc palace toll Ruiru on 17th August 2019 PHOTO/COURTESY
He said: “As a community (Gikuyu) let us not be lied to that the Prime Ministers’ post belongs to Raila Odinga. The post can go to anybody from any tribe in Kenya because it is a national post.
Even after making the proposed changes in the Constitution, it will remain a national post, regardless who gets to it first. After all, they will leave it some day for someone else. It will be a seat to help peace prevail in Kenya.
The system of governance we are clamoring for will enhance cohesion and that will be effective only if we incorporate a Prime Minister’s position in the Constitution. It is the only way to deal with the ‘winner takes it all’ mentality.”
In 2010, the singer courted controversy after he released a song titled Mwaka wa Hiti (The Year of the Hyena).
From left: Musicians John DeMathew, Kamande wa Kioi and Njroge wa Mungai in court July 4, 2012. They denied a charge of creating tribal animosity through their songs and were released on a Sh100,000 cash bail each. PHOTO/.FILE
In 2012, he was accused of propagating hate speech with the song, especially against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was one of the presidential contenders in 2013 general elections. Senior Principal Magistrate Ellena Nderitu acquitted him in June 2014.
“After perusing through the file and listening to submissions by the prosecution and the defence, this court found no evidence to link the accuser’s song to the hate speech charges levelled against him as he never mentioned any tribe in his song,” ruled Nderitu.
DeMathew was in his own right an opinion maker, whose influence surpassed the confines of the studio.
His lyrics were not just words hurriedly crafted to just make a song, but he cleverly selected them to deliver home his intended message.
DeMathew’s car wreckage after the fatal accident that claimed his life. PHOTO/COURTESY
During an interview at Kameme TV on July 5, this year, DeMathew said even his own parents didn’t immediately appreciate his love for music.
“I composed my first song called Rekereria Wendo (Let Love Reign) while in Standard Seven. But my parents didn’t readily accept I had a talent in music. At some point, my father threatened to chase me away from home,” he said, adding he almost gave up on music after his first song, Jenifer, failed to take off as he had expected.
He said: “But I didn’t give up. I went to a producer called Wamaitu Productions who produced my second song called Peris Nduku, which propelled me to great popularity. I can’t say I am the biggest amongst others or I see things others cannot, but God brings to me such things and I pursue them.”
DeMathew’s vision was to make a change in the society. He said his aim was to share his vision for a better life with other people and help the less priviledged.
“Young people should never give up on anything; we will always be there to help them,” he said.
His song, Urathi Wa Ma, is regarded as his most deepest, with a meaning that was hard to decipher. It literally distinguished the iconic Kikuyu benga musician from the rest of the clout. The song, loosely translated in Kikuyu to mean ‘true prophecy’, was released in the late 90s and propelled the prolific singer’s profile as a modern ‘prophet’.
In the song, DeMathew tackled issues of the HIV/Aids scourge and devil worshipping in the country, among a myriad of other issues. In a proverbial manner he was known for when composing his songs, he ‘prophesied’ a day would come when sexual immorality would catch up with all those who practiced it.
Brief meeting with Tamco Sacco Officials, Chairman John De Mathew (in pink shirt) and Vice Chairman Epha Maina with Equity Bank Officials PHOTO/COURTESY
But in reality, the single Njata Yakwa (My Star) remains DeMathew’s most popular song. In the video, he featured a young video vixen known as Sabina Chege, said to be his then lover. By the time of the video’s release, Sabina was a radio presenter. She is now Murang’a Woman Representative.
DeMathew met his untimely death through a fatal accident at a ‘black spot’ near Blue Post Hotel, along Thika Road. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Thika Nursing Home. He was from a fundraising event towards footing medical expenses of his fellow musician Peter Kigia’s daughter, Esther.
John DeMathew live show in Embu County Photo/courtesy
“On this tour, I have been tasked with preaching peace and unity. A country without peace doesn’t forge forward. I only have one message, lets us give the head of state space to do his work.
“Forget about these other discussions about years to come, and we don’t even know if we’ll be alive to witness,” De’Mathew told his fans.
Kenyans led by President Uhuru Kenyatta have mourned the music maestro, with President Uhuru describing him a mentor to other artistes.
“As a nation, we were privileged to have had such a brilliant artiste who played a big role in promoting our African cultural heritage through his music. Indeed, we have lost an icon in the music industry. DeMathew championed and played a big role in preserving our cultural heritage,” said Uhuru.
Deputy President William Ruto: “He has mentored many aspiring musicians and campaigned for a platform to empower them. He was artistic, sociable and an eloquent performer. Rest In Peace.”
Former Prime Minister and opposition chief Raila Odinga described DeMathew as a man who had spent his lifetime fighting against illicit brews as well as promoting Kikuyu culture among within his community.
“He did a great job as an artist. He enlightened young people against illicit brews while also educating his community on culture and current affairs,” Raila said.
John Demathew with Tamco Sacco founding members PHOTO/FILE
Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria hailed the late singer’s effort to help other artistes through the Talented Musicians and Composers (Tamco) Sacco.
“Through his leadership, the music fraternity launched a cooperative movement dubbed Tamco Sacco and pooled resources to invest in real estate and other sectors as a way of empowering the musician’s fraternity,” said Wairia.
Gatanga MP Ngugi Nduati said his death was a great blow to the people of Gatanga pointing out that he was a unique person who not only entertained people but was like a seer too. He said DeMatthew had put a lot of effort to nurture upcoming musicians from the area by giving them guidance and mentorship.
“He was a dedicated person with a promising future. Too bad that death robbed us a champion and a star. Music is our ‘cash crop’ in Gatanga and it’s a major setback when we lose such a person,” said Nduati.