It is an indisputable fact that the boda boda sub-sector in the country has grown in leaps and bounds for over a decade now providing employment opportunities, source of livelihood and economic empowerment especially among the majority of our unemployed youths.
The contrary is also true owing to both acts of commission and omission. Boda bodas have now gone completely rogue. They have become a law unto themselves. It’s crazy, but the police are now yielding to the brigands and are becoming increasingly aggressive and morphing into something ugly.
Due to lack of regulatory framework, the industry has become not only a nuisance but also a national security threat attributable to the budding gangland culture and blatant disregard of the law as the primary modus operandi amongst riders.
Thus, the boda boda question can no longer be viewed as a low priority political issue, rather, must be urgently securitised and amplified as a high national security concern. The sector has been left vulnerable making it possible for criminal organized gangs to infiltrate with ease as well as the industry serving as a front to cover up for their crime or to directly aid their activities.
Over the recent past, the country has been recording skyrocketing cases of boda boda related crimes and accidents significantly compromising public safety. This makes it even more difficult for the genuine, hardworking and law abiding sector players to operate with ease not to mention the risk they remain exposed to from within.
Without standing the risk of blanket condemnation as acknowledged above, rogue elements amongst the operators have mutated into the new face of crime and impunity.
In the last two months, boda boda thugs have seized suspects from police custody in Kirinyaga and Embu, frog-marched them to town centres, beaten them up and burnt them in full public glare. All that was heard from the police were the usual platitudes about no stone being left unturned, and perpetrators to face the full force of the law.
Those perpetrators are still roaming free, ready to commit yet another atrocity. The boda boda mobs operate with absolute impunity. They no longer fear the consequences of breaking the law. In fact, they have become a law unto themselves. They are the untouchables. Woe betide any motorist who finds themselves in an accident involving boda bodas.
Previously, when they caused an accident, they fled the scene if they were not badly injured. Today, they mob any motorist unfortunate enough to become involved in an accident with them. They mobilise within seconds, and descend on the scene like flies. They will beat up the motorist, sometimes
fatally, steal from the vehicle then burn it. Yet there have been zero arrests or prosecutions.
Many times, motorists have been forced to “compensate” the boda bodas on the spot, even when it undoubted the rider caused the accident. In some cases, police have just stood by watching nonchalantly. It’s so atrocious.
Boda boda indiscipline and impunity is at its highest. They now ride against oncoming traffic, habitually carry more than the required one pillion passenger, speed like madmen and cut right across traffic from one side to another. They have zero respect for traffic rules. Their mantra is just touch me, you see. Again, police just watch them.
The question is, why is the government letting all this to happen? This is the same government that snuffed out the craziness of another industry that had gone completely rogue, the matatu industry. There was even a phrase coined for it matatu madness. Yet, the government tamed this industry and turned the operators from hyenas to kittens within less than a month!
So, if the government really wants to tame the rogue boda bodas, it only needs a week. There is no need to regurgitate the measures that need to be taken to rein in boda bodas. They are a well sung refrain by now. The government has pronounced itself on this matter ad nauseum!
Boda bodas have become an integral part of the country’s electioneering and campaigns. With the current impunity and thuggish behaviour, and awash with campaign cash, they pose a huge risk of destabilisation of the country, especially in the event of post-election tension or unrest.
Kenya is indeed blessed with moneyed big wigs whose knack for seizing trade opportunities is second to very few.
You look at the agriculture industry and its big time traders making millions in the sugar and maize business, while farmers are struggling to make the most out of their produce. In fact, sugar farmers in my native Migori know this too well.
Gone are the days when sugarcane farmers were the elites whose hard work powered Sony Sugar as they smiled to the bank. Sadly, today, I can hardly find Sony Sugar or Mumias Sugar in our supermarkets, yet the variety of brands has increased exponentially. This trend is not unique to sugar and maize, but generally agriculture, and there have been impressive pro-farmers reforms initiated and
instituted by Agriculture CS Peter Munya. But that’s a story for another day.
Today, these traders want to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and make a kill out of a situation, that needs concerted public efforts. In fact, globally, efforts are made to provide an egalitarian approach that would ensure economic disparities don’t affect the the fight against Covid-19.
Curbing the pandemic and protecting the lives of Kenyans is a function of the government and the civic responsibility of the people, and there are no reasons why unscrupulous businessmen should be allowed to masquerade as concerned Kenyans, when all they want is to create a sense of fear and get Kenyans into paying expensively for a vaccine that the government is giving for free.
The government’s directive to stop private importation of the Sputnik vaccine is laudable. It shows the government has put itself on the spot as it expedites the vaccination of as many Kenyans as possible to vindicate the directive. In fact, the outcry has been whether the government has the capacity. Secondly, we live in a country where unscrupulous characters would have taken advantage to supply fake vaccines to unsuspecting public.
The danger of this cannot be over emphasised. The president, top government officials and most front-line workers, have got the vaccine, our elderly parents are getting vaccinated. In the next eight to 12 months, all Kenyans will probably be vaccinated. But because there are Kenyans out there who feel like they have money to plug somewhere, we can challenge them to channel their resources where it may matter.
You see, Africa is a recipient of the vaccines just like we are recipients of finished products made from raw materials, grown or mined in our own countries. What if these moneyed businessmen invested their money in research and modalities around local production of vaccines.
In fact, the logistical nightmare of getting these vaccines to different countries can be addressed if production by the four major producers is domiciled in an African country. Kenya has everything that would support that and the wealthy businessmen can channel their resources to such courses. The ripple effect today and going forward would massively contribute to our economy and enhance pharmaceutical remedies in our medical and health system.
Today, a New Delhi firm is partnering with an Israeli firm in Jerusalem to produce vaccines that can be taken as capsules and tablets. Once this vaccine goes through all the trials and we finally get tablets and capsules for inoculation, a massive leap will be made in getting as many people as possible vaccinated. The need for medical facilities with syringes, needles and dedicated health staff and stations for vaccinations will be less and the logistics will demand little to get the vaccine to other countries.
Kenya boast of an elite human resource and we are not short of scientist and experts who would do with the much needed support to venture into robust research within the established institutions or new ones in Kenya. If it is happening in other countries, we can borrow the experiences and channel private investments to ventures that would solve our problems going forward.
It is considered a lifesaver, a borrowing craze that does not need any embarrassment or any form of grilling or humiliation, the ultimate ride or die when it comes to desperate times when the pocket has nothing to offer but emptiness. This is the popular Fuliza loan that was launched by Safaricom back in January 2019. Done anywhere and by anyone who qualifies the simple rules Fuliza loaning facility has grown immensely and has served the needs of Kenyans bountifully.
In its astounding performance, the Fuliza Overdraft facility through Safaricom was rolled out in January 2019, to mobile money users and by the end of the year was recorded to have served Kenyans with Sh8 billion in eight days after its launch and Sh140 billion In loans in just nine months. Further growth saw Kenyans engage more in borrowing, and entry into the Covid area indicated increased borrowing from Kenyans with Fuliza loans hitting Sh1bn daily up from an initial Sh830 million.
But why the numbers? One would question, but right before we delve into this, latest statistics indicate that so far Sh1.2bn is borrowed per day from Fuliza which by the end of the year should culminate to over Sh300 billion in such a short period of 12 months. These numbers are critical as it depicts Kenyans have a progressive need for loans in their daily lives and the increased growth is also an indicator that the loans are being well serviced and contributing to development of people’s livelihoods in one way or the other.
This borrowing is done as a necessity to leverage on what is undertaking and most often than not has enabled progress and timeliness in payments of bills in businesses, basic essentials and even school fees. This is how many progress through avoiding delays that would slow down an individual’s progress in accessing their necessities which is arguably a borrowing concept that illustrates how countries borrow to enhance development.
A virus crisis has turned around lives at dizzying speed globally. The blow of COVID-19 halted travel as schools, stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues shut down. Sports leagues were suspended as hotels were emptied.
And in a world facing ongoing economic pressures, many of these behavioural changes are likely to endure. While it is normal for people to adjust spending in times of social or economic uncertainty, this was something else, it has gone on forever. One year later, the country is still facing the same challenges.
However, it is important to note that COVID-19 lock downs saw Kenyans work, shop, socialize, and entertain themselves online more than ever, some for the very first time. This has served to not only increase their comfort with digital technologies and experiences, but their appetite for them as well.
With some Counties still locked down, many will be open to new experiences like touchless payments, app-based services, augmented or virtual reality among others. For the hospitality industry, this should be seen as an invitation to innovate and invest in digital technology.
Trust will be crucial. Despite travel restrictions easing in parts of the world, it could still take time for the travel and tourism sector to regain its former strength. Domestic tourists are expected to spend much less time on holiday. This will require many hospitality establishments to redirect their efforts to understand and engage with this new domestic, short-trip traveler.
Trust will play a pivotal role in enabling organizations to recover and rebuild in the near term, and thrive in the long term. Allowing businesses to reopen may represent a return to some degree of normalcy but local travelers need to be able to trust that hospitality establishments are taking sufficient actions to protect their health.
Every hospitality-sector business will need to actively engage with consumers and communicate the steps they’re taking to keep customers and employees safe—and demonstrate how they’re living up to those commitments at every point of interaction.
Companies that adapt their offerings to reflect changing preferences and behaviours demonstrate their desire to listen, understand, and respond to their customers. In the short term, this can help deepen consumer trust in the organization, fostering the kind of bond that can drive future growth and success. Consumers will remember the brands that paid attention and “took care” of them during these tough times.
Maintaining and building trust will be essential for businesses of all sizes, but larger hospitality organisations are likely to have an advantage given their greater capability not only to invest in trust building improvements but also to ensure consumers know about the measures taken. Impact of the pandemic on customer experience in the hospitality sector is can not be gainsaid.
Its impact on operational realities can’t be under stated either, and with the road to recovery likely to be a bumpy one as the world deals with the virus, organisations that can maintain operational agility will stand out and emerge better and ready to navigate the uncertainties ahead.
The history of transport is largely one of technological innovation. Advances in technology have allowed people to travel farther, explore more territory, and expand their influence over larger areas.
Even in ancient times, new tools such as foot coverings and snow shoes, lengthened the distances that
could be traveled. As new inventions and discoveries were applied to transport problems, travel time
decreased while the ability to move larger loads increased. International trade was the driving motivator behind advancements in global transportation in the premodern world.
There was a single global world economy with a worldwide division of labour and multilateral trade from 1,500 onward. To increase efficiency, transport services were integrated as evidenced by the establishment of the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation, a defunct company that operated railways and harbours in East Africa from 1948 to 1977.
It was formed in 1948 for the new East African High Commission by merging the Kenya and Uganda
railways and harbours with the Tanganyika Railway. As well as running railways and harbours in the three territories, it ran inland shipping services on Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert, the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile. But now, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), remains significant in terms of saving valued natural resources and protecting the environment, especially from the challenge of global warming.
Its operations have continued to play positive effects on delivery of both passengers and cargo. From passenger trains inauguration by President Uhuru on June 1, 2017 that initially had one train per each direction, the service has improved to current state of three trains both directions. During the period of June 2017 up to end February 2021, 4,356 passenger trains have moved both directions delivering 5,200,000 passengers, a service that has proved popular with on time schedule train arrivals.
On the Freight cargo service that commenced on January 1, 2018, SGR has maintained a steady off-take of cargo from the port that has seen 7,280 trains moved delivering 726,485 TEUs. The SGR has also had a multiplier effect on the economy by spurring the growth of the tourism sector at the coast.
At least 65 per cent of all the tourists arriving in Nairobi from abroad and the national parks ride the Madaraka Express to Mombasa. The cost of production and manufacturing has been lowered, and agriculture and service industry has experienced exponential growth. Import tonnage moved 12,414,615 tons. Export and empty containers delivered via SGR stand at 439,565 TEUs, contributing to 1,509,778 tons.
This has positively enhanced cargo throughput from the port by rail, reducing duel time and quick turnaround on vessels at the port. The improved service has seen a daily wagon supply for containerised cargo oscillating between 400 to 450 per 24 hours. With the recently introduced new service on double deck wagons on containers, two such trains are currently active, delivering 152 TEUs per move.
To further enhance service improvement, conventional bulk loading using both high open wagons and special containers has been ongoing, enabling daily delivery of 7000 metric tons per day of wheat to Nairobi for both local and transit clients. With the recent operational coordination merger of KR, KPA and KRA with joint approach on port operations, both organisations are currently working together to provide seamless cargo evacuations needs.
As the government continues to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SGR operator ensures strict adherence to the laid down protocols. Given the resilience of and key milestones achieved by the SGR within the last three years, it remains the preferred mode of transport.
The milestones include the launch of the Nairobi-Mombasa passenger train in June 2017, the launch of the inter-county passenger service in November 2017, the inauguration of Phase 2A passenger service by President Uhuru in October 2019 and the celebration of safely operating the Madaraka Express service for 1000 days.
President Uhuru’s speech on Kenya’s first anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic revolved around political, economic and social issues with global ramifications. With the virus causing much damage on lives and livelihoods globally, the continent faces a myriad challenges that require focus.
To focus steadily on post-Covid economic recovery, the President will have to employ maximum political goodwill, centred on the theme ‘building back better’ as the government deals with the public health crisis spawned by the pandemic.
Committed to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to resolve the electoral-political conundrum hindering national unity amid the intriguing 2022 succession battles, Uhuru temporarily suspended political rallies on the resurgence of the virus. While the ban could slow down political activity, there will be behind-the-scenes manoeuvres in the charged atmosphere dominated by a motley cast of politicians and diehard acolytes.
Kenya and Africa are endowed with abundant natural resources, yet the population continues to suffer from bad governance, poverty, stagnant development and now Covid-19. How the President responds to the recovery is the subject of local and global attention.
The fate of fortune has handed him what football pundits call a ‘gilt-edged opportunity’ to score a goal and leave a lasting shine on his legacy in the sunset years of his tenure. Two weeks ago, he was named the East African Community (EAC) chairperson. A few days later, he took over as chair of the African
Union (AU) Peace and Security Council.
US President Joe Biden has urged Kenya to use its position to end conflicts in the region, taking advantage of the strong, historic USKenya ties and Kenya’s membership of the United Nations Security Council. When Kenya took its seat last year, it listed a wish-list catalogue including “building bridges to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and respect for human dignity and aspirations.”
It also promised to uphold justice, human rights, democracy, gender equality, humanitarian action, youth empowerment, sustainable development and to act on climate change. Uhuru’s new role in the EAC and the AU is significant politically and economically as his BBI co-principal ODM leader Raila Odinga is the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development.
This union augurs well for their connection with current AU Chair, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi, whose top agenda is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerating operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA). DRC has applied to join the EAC and the Council of Ministers has been urged to expedite the process.
DRC is probably the richest country in Africa in terms of its abundant natural resources, especially minerals. Its membership could make EAC a powerful regional economic bloc on the continent. DRC is also home of the world’s largest hydropower scheme, the Grand Inga dam (estimated cost US$80 billion) to develop a grid across Africa and spur industrial economic development. For a resilient and durable economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, governments and international partners must prevent environmentally destructive investment patterns and activities.
Global environmental emergencies such as climate change and bio-diversity loss unchecked could cause social and economic damages far larger than those caused by the pandemic. Economic recovery and stimulus packages should be designed to build back better, by doing more than getting economies
and livelihoods quickly back on their feet.
Recovery policies need to trigger investment and behavioural changes to reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase the society’s resilience to them when they do occur. The ball is in President Uhuru’s court.