Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
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DEADLY DRUGS: Nothing has lately alarmed Calvin Japheth more than the many “mobile pharmacies” operating in the streets and in buses, precisely because the authorities do not seem bothered about this potentially deadly drugs merchandising by hawkers.

Says he: “This poses a grave danger just like the terrorist attacks. No one knows whether the companies the hawkers purport to represent actual exist or a sham.” The Pharmacy and Poisons Board, he urges, should urgently take up the matter with the seriousness it deserves to curb the danger. His contact is [email protected]

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TAXI WARS: The raging conflict between the Kenya Taxi Cab Association and the new Uber Technologies Inc operators, Amir Yusuf says, reminds him of similar past reactions when new innovations such as the mobile phone, electronic mail, and M-Pesa were introduced.

“Quite a number of businesses that had refused to change were changed with devastating consequences. By last May, Uber was operating in 58 countries and more than 300 cities. I would just advise the taxi fellows to join Uber or perish.” His contact is [email protected]

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JURISDICTION: The Kenyan National Highways Authority has noted an appeal for the maintenance of the Airport North Road at Embakasi, Nairobi, by clearing overgrown bush that obstructs drivers’ view.

However, KeNHA corporate affairs manager Charles Njogu wishes to clarify that the road does not fall under their jurisdiction and is the responsibility of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura). But the authority has a framework dubbed, Road Corridor that entails daily monitoring of its national trunk road network to identify and fix any problems. His contact is [email protected]

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BAD ROADS: The state of roads in the Parklands and Westlands suburbs of Nairobi, is pathetic, moans Iqbal Omar, adding that some had been shoddily patched up before the recent El Nino rains, and the potholes have re-emerged.

He cannot understand the logic in spending taxpayers’ money on the same repairs over and over again. “Why don’t the roads engineers find a permanent solution to this if they are, indeed, qualified professionals?” Runda Road and Runda Grove, he adds, have been neglected for the past 10 years despite promises by Kura engineers. His contact is [email protected]

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HUGE POTHOLES: And can the Kura officials also find some time to visit the city’s western periphery? A resident of Uthiru, John Kubasu, says that particularly bad is Gakobu Road, near Kinoo, and towards the University of Nairobi’s Kabete Campus, which now looks like “a scene out of a horror film, with huge potholes, unyielding pedestrians, rogue boda boda riders, speeding motorists and clouds of dust like from a sand storm”.

He is accusing local MCA Ndiba Thandi, Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu and Kiambu Governor William Kabogo of having abandoned their own voters in their time of need. His contact is [email protected]

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MUSEVENI’S RHETORIC: Listening to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s rhetorical speeches on the campaign trail for this month’s elections is disgusting, remarks Dr Odidi Owiti, accusing the long-serving leader of having a super ego.

The least one would have expected from Museveni, Dr Owiti adds, “is to continually remind his impoverished people of his own riches and his seemingly endless leadership”. But even more annoying, he states, is the man’s assertion that he will not leave office until the “mirage of an East African federation” is achieved. His contact is [email protected]

Have a believable day, won’t you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

POWER BLACKOUTS: For the last two months, Mira Radia moans, she and her neighbours on the main Gigiri Road, Nairobi, have been experiencing numerous power blackouts and surges, sometimes up to 20 or 30 times in a single day. However, their attempts to contact Kenya Power using its emergency helpline, she claims, have not elicited any response. “What exactly is going on? Our electrical appliances and switches have been damaged. Please, help to redress the situation,” pleads Mira, whose account number is 2985111 and her contact is [email protected]

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ELECTION CAMPAIGNS: Electricity, Jackson Ngera notes, has always been used as a tool for election campaigns and he can already see that happening again as the country goes to the polls in August next year. Just before the 2013 elections, Jackson, a resident of Ntuti, in Kangeta, Meru County, recalls that power lines to Kalimbene were quickly erected, giving the locals a lot of hope. However, to date, nothing has happened, but come next year, he is convinced, politicians will turn up again, promising to have electricity connected to their homes. Also appalling, Jackson adds, is the state of roads in the area. His contact is [email protected]

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DUSTY OFFICES: On calling at City Hall in downtown Nairobi last week to pay for a business licence, Rose Kiongo says she was suddenly struck by the huge difference in quality between the Standard Chartered Bank branch, where she had been, and the dusty city county government offices. “From the clean and well-kept bank, I had a difficult time adjusting to the dusty stairs and unattractive walls. I also almost fell down, trying to sit on a damaged chair.” The county, she adds, can help reduce unemployment by hiring some cleaners. Her contact is [email protected]

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ROAD USERS: While it is okay for the Kenya National Highways Authority to ask drivers to be always cautious and courteous on the road, Sylvia Njeri says they are not that keen on meeting their side of the bargain. Airport North Road at Embakasi, she states, is among the most dangerous in Nairobi, and she and other frequent users of that road can confirm this. The end on the road towards the Kyang’ombe area, she adds, has long overgrown grass that badly obstructs the view of oncoming motor vehicles, including heavy trucks. The grass, she pleads, should be cleared before a bad head-on collision occurs. Her contact is [email protected]

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LAND TRANSACTIONS: The much-touted Lands ministry’s e-Citizen portal to enable online land transactions is not working, says Thika resident Ngugi Kiiru. It is quite disappointing, he adds, to have government officials talking about having rolled out an electronic e-payment system that is not fully operational. For nearly a week now, Ngugi has tried in vain to pay his land rent, as the service is unavailable. “It’s quite pedestrian of the government to deny citizens a service by operating a system that is not ready and failing to provide an alternative.” His contact is [email protected]

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FIGHTING TERRORISM: Diana D’Souza says she “does not understand our leaders” any more, citing the recent unveiling in Nairobi of some of the new sophisticated weapons the security forces will be using in their fight against terrorism. She asks: “How can they advertise this to the terrorists, telling them how they plan to bring them down and the type of equipment that they will use and where? The terrorists must be having such a laugh! No other country in the world lets anyone know about its plans for military operations. This should always be a top secret.” Her contact is [email protected]

 Have a discreet day, won’t you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

BETTING COMPANIES: The proliferation of betting companies “is slowly but surely leading many Kenyans into abject poverty”, moans David Motari. A good number, he adds, are sinking even the little they have into “this addictive behaviour”, thinking that they will become millionaires overnight without having to break a sweat. While a few will get a little money, David warns that the majority will get absolutely nothing despite spending their hard-earned money. “Kenyans must be made to realise that nothing comes on a silver platter and that only hard work pays in the long run. If not checked, this behaviour is the surest way to deeper poverty.” His contact is [email protected]

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TAXI WARS: The new taxi war, pitting drivers in Nairobi against the high-tech Uber operators, Joshua Olet says, reminds him of a story he has heard about founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s role in the birth of what became the matatu transport business. “When bus owners went to Mzee Kenyatta to complain about pirate taxis denying them business, the wise old man simply told them to sell their buses and get matatus. Shocked bus owners went away dejected. Taxi owners are complaining that Uber operators are making more money. They should go Uber, too!” His contact is [email protected]

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BUTTERLY INVASION: Reports about the sighting of hordes of white butterflies along the Meru-Nairobi highway are very true, says organic agronomist Cuthbert Wachira. “The beautiful insect is, indeed, the mother to the voracious larva known as the army worm (Spodoptera exempta). The dark green larvae have an appetite for foliage, equated to that of an elephant (Spodoptera spp.). They will leave huge swathes of vegetated land bare in a matter of hours. The little pests are known to consume up to ten times their bodyweight in a single day! One can only imagine the scenario after an invasion of a million of them in a plantation! Are Agriculture Department officials aware of this threat?” His contact is [email protected]

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CITY CONGESTION: Looking at photos of the City of Nairobi from the 1960s into the late 1980s, Samuel Wangatia says, there is a sharp contrast with the messy present, which is characterised by mindless congestion, even in the central business district. “I am left wondering where we went wrong in our planning and organisation. Nairobi was less congested and cleaner than it is today, as we seem to have taken a wrong turn, with misplaced priorities.” The leadership, he adds, must restore some order, even if this will in the short run, create some discomfort to some. His contact [email protected]

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INTROVERTS: A self-declared introvert, Allan Kipchirchir, says he belongs to a group that is largely misunderstood, hence the need to enlighten the public about it. Introverts, he claims, seem not to fit in society “owing to our reserved and quiet nature”, which some see as being rude. “But the truth is that we’re just normal people, though we may not like being around or even talking to some people.” According to him, introverts love their solitude and “it has nothing to do with any flaw in our social engineering skills”. He quips: “To put it more precisely, we like to be alone or with someone else who likes to be alone. Long live, fellow introverts! “ His contact is [email protected]

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VOTER REGISTRATION: The latest trend among some top politicians, Christopher Kibiwott says, is trying to mobilise voter registration in Nairobi along tribal lines. Some of the politicians and their sycophants, he claims, have been telling people from their ethnic community residing in the capital to “register in large numbers so that we can have one of our own as an MP, governor or senator”. This, Christopher warns, is likely to polarise the country, “as the call is then picked up by vernacular radio stations”. According to him, “we are playing with fire again”, alluding to the post-2007 election violence. His contact is [email protected]
 
Have a peaceful day, won’t you!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE CUTTING EDGE

TAXIS MUST CHANGE TACK: Following the introduction of the new Uber taxis system, which has threatened to totally change the way taxi drivers have done their business for many years in Nairobi and other towns, they should just stop whining and change tack to up their game, says Ruth Gituma. According to Ruth, there should be no turning back, as the new system confers some advantage to users in the charges and convenience. “Competition is here to stay,” declares Ruth, whose contact is [email protected]

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DUAL CARRIAGEWAY: The whole of Ngong Road should be dualised, all the way from Nairobi’s central business district to Ngong Town, says Wycliffe Makori, who, though welcoming reported Japanese funding for the project, is disappointed that this will cater for only a two-kilometre stretch. Nairobi, he states, fully agreeing with George Forest, generates the bulk of national tax revenue and should not be ignored as expensive tarmac roads are built upcountry for use by boda boda motorbike riders and cyclists. His contact is [email protected]

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STINKING FEET: What would some people rather have, visitors’ smelly feet or a little dirt on their carpets? asks Richard Mundia, reopening the debate that has been raging all week. “Some people’s feet smell so badly that they would leave the whole house in a stench. For me, the inconvenience of a little dirt is better than the stinking feet. So don’t remove your shoes unless you will wash them before you enter my house,” declares Richard, whose contact is [email protected]

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HYGIENE BOOST: Requiring visitors to remove their shoes before entering their hosts’ houses is a hygiene boost as people are now more conscious of the condition and quality of the socks they wear, says Jim Webo. “The people who have holes in their socks with think twice before they go visiting, as they realise they will have to take off their shoes. They must not only have good socks, but must also keep them clean to avoid unleashing a nauseating stench on removing them.”

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SCHOOL FEES: The guidelines on school fees for children in public schools simply do not work, charges Jacob Okello, who recently took his child for admission to a primary school in Nairobi and was stunned at the charges being levied by the headteacher. He was asked to pay a total of Sh3,000, broken down as follows: interview fee, admission, activity and school feeding programme. The money, he adds, is paid in cash, and he fears for safety of headteachers who have to handle such huge amounts of money. For the details, his contact is [email protected]

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FELLING TREES: The most irritating weird habits of Kenyans, Julius Wairegi says, include insisting on boarding an overloaded public service vehicle, lacking just a little patience to wait for another one. On the political front, he adds, it’s the tendency to elect bad leaders, and, of course, the shamelessness exhibited by those who will endanger their lives trying to dash across a busy road, just a few metres away from a footbridge constructed at taxpayers’ expense and crying out to the government for help at the last minute.  His contact is [email protected]

Have a rational day, won’t you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

MAKING AND BREAKING LAWS: By wanting to amend the Political Parties Act and remove the clause preventing MPs from defecting willy-nilly, the Eleventh Parliament has “finally twisted the knife in the heart of our hitherto progressive Constitution, and proved yet again that you cannot legislate against bad manners”, says Taabu Tele. He adds: “The lazy argument that the law is difficult to implement betrays the MPs’ penchant for adulterating the supreme law for selfish needs. We are a country of many vices, not because of lack of good laws, but the tendency to make and break them with impunity.” His contact is [email protected]

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ONLINE TRANSACTIONS: The move by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to get the public to transact online is a giant step in the right direction, says Ian Ngethe. “For even the most seasoned, going to Ardhi House, Nairobi, for a land transaction always brings with it some really anxious moments.” His only misgiving, though, is that when he tried to pay his land rent for this year, the online system showed an astronomically high and erroneous balance. “I got quite discouraged and ended up paying at the bank. Maybe the ministry should clean up this first.” His contact is [email protected]

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ACCIDENT VEHICLES: Keenly following the debate on the “junkyards that are our police stations”, lawyer Njora Waweru recalls that when the police started auctioning some of the accident and other motor vehicles abandoned in their yards some years ago, a group quickly went to court and obtained an injunction stopping the sale.  Says he: “I have no idea whether the court injunction was ever lifted, but from my own experience, it might still be in place and, therefore, the auctions cannot proceed. Maybe the Attorney-General or whoever acts for the police service can shed some light on this.” His contact is [email protected]

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SHOW OF RESPECT: Contrary to Janet Koi’s views, Zamzam Saleh says, removing shoes when entering someone else’s house, which has ceramic floor tiles ordinary carpets or expensive Kashmir ones, is “a mere show of respect” to the host. “Imagine your visitors will have been to many places by car or by public transport, and the amount of dust and bacteria they might have picked up on their way. If you have young children playing and sitting on those carpets, dropping food and picking it up to eat it, how much contamination is that? Americans and Europeans do not entertain visitors the way we do. In Japan, you remove your shoes at the school gate.” Zamzam’s contact is [email protected]

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MENTAL DECOLONISATION: Nairobi resident Janet Koi’s rejection of what she calls the outdated practice of visitors having to remove their shoes before entering their hosts’ houses simply because she has during her past visits overseas never seen people in America and Europe do so, is one W. Ngige simply won’t buy. Says he: “Perhaps Ms Koi requires some mental decolonisation, if the main reason for her dislike of the idea of people taking their shoes off before entering houses is just because the Americans and Europeans do not do it.” His contact is [email protected]

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NOISY CHURCHES: Holding up the Bible as the source of his evidence, Patrick W. Ndege says God “likes to dwell in a serene, quiet and peaceful atmosphere”. According to him, this cannot be the description of “most of our churches today”. Many churches, he adds, are “too noisy”, even when they have very few members. He asks: “Does this then mean that it is Satan who dwells in these churches?” This, to Patrick, is the most logical conclusion on where God can be found, and Satan’s paradise. His contact is [email protected]

 Have a heavenly day, won’t you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

AFRICAN SOLUTIONS: There “are no African solutions to African problems, as some of leaders may want us to believe”, remarks Benjamin Ashuma, adding: “If your house was burning, would you worry about the race, nationality or colour of the people who rush out with buckets of water to put out the fire? Would you stand in the yard yelling, ‘I want only Africans. This is an African fire’”. African leaders, he concludes, “only use this tagline to create a firewall against international community scrutiny and intervention” to solve serious problems. His contact is [email protected]

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FIGHTING CORRUPTIONFIGHTING CORRUPTION: National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale’s call for the resignation of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is totally uncalled for, says Ken Butiko. According to Ken, for the CJ to be bold enough to admit that the institution he heads is corrupt from the bottom to the top is commendable. The CJ’s position, he adds, is similar to that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who, not long ago, also publicly revealed that the Office of the President is a den of corruption. “Duale should be helping to fight corruption in Parliament instead of fighting the CJ.” His contact is[email protected]

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PARTY-HOPPERS.PARTY-HOPPERS: Let the MPs continue their party hopping, says Ben Njenga, in response to a call by some politicians to scrap the law that prevents members from defecting while still holding onto their positions. He adds: “After all, there is no real difference between all those amorphous outfits that we erroneously call political parties. The change in our much-hyped Constitution promulgated in 2010, has not solved a single problem because we did not even seem to really understand the problems that we were trying to solve!” His contact is [email protected].

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LITTER ON BEACH: The public path to Shanzu Beach on the North Coast has for many weeks now been littered with empty coconut husks, plastic waste and general rubbish, says Trevor Le Breuilly. Apart from selling and checking tickets, Trevor wonders what the Kenya Wildlife Service does with the $20 fee it charges each of the visitors. He quips: “Apparently, not ensuring the vista is pleasing to the tourists they hope to attract. The billions of shillings spent by the hotels to upgrade the area are for naught if the KWS personnel do not strive to do their bit.” His contact is [email protected]

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PECULIAR HABITS: A Kenyan writing from Delaware in the United States, Ogongi Ogongi, totally disagrees with Janet Koi, who finds the idea of visitors removing their shoes before entering a house to be one of the peculiar habits of Kenyans. “She says they do not do it in the West. Does she understand the reason we do it? It is to keep bacteria in the shoes out of the house. Secondly, in the West, they do not wash their hands before they eat. Should we also do the same just because of them? Let us not follow the West blindly.” His contact is [email protected]

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COMMON PRACTICE: There is nothing peculiar about visitors removing their shoes before entering a house, says Gachanja Njoroge. This, he adds, is a common practice in Asia. “Unfortunately, our walkways are hardly ever tarmacked and thus dust or mud are the order of the day. We can hardly compare ourselves to Europe and America, where the people never need to regularly clean their shoes as there is no dust or mud. We still have more bacteria in our shoes than you can get in most of the houses.” His contact is [email protected]

Have a common day, won’t you!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

MISSING LELEMENTS: The expansion of Ngong Road, Nairobi, to four lanes is excellent news, says Preeyesh Shah who is, however, a little disappointed that some vital amenities that should have been catered for have been omitted. One is footbridges, which should be installed every kilometre or 500 metres instead of having zebra crossings. “This will ensure the safety of pedestrians as well as keep the traffic flowing.” Preeyesh’s contact is [email protected]

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OUTDATED PRACTICE: To the long list of the peculiar habits of Kenyans, Janet Koi wishes to add having visitors remove their shoes before entering houses. “I never witnessed this in America and Europe. It is an outdated practice that made sense in the 1970s, when people from the village arrived on one’s doorstep with mud or dust. Today, everybody is clean enough to step on those ceramic titles or carpets. It is not only impolite, but also inhospitable to expect visitors to take off their shoes, exposing them to bacteria. Stop this practice.” Her contact is [email protected]

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NO POWER: For more than a year now, a power transformer serving Maji Mzuri in Lavington suburb in Nairobi and its environs has been malfunctioning at least five times a week, says Gibran Chaudhry. “Every time it trips, we have no power in the area for hours. Kenya Power has done nothing about this as its technicians will only come and reset it hours later, only for it to trip again. Even a slight drizzle will cause a blackout. Replace this thing, we’ve had enough,” yells Gibran, whose contact is [email protected]

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SEEKING FUNDS: The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has noted a recent comment on lack of a footbridge at the busy Mathare North Road–Thika Superhighway junction, says corporate affairs manager Charles Ndungu. “During the construction of the Thika Superhighway, footbridges were not a part of the components of the project. However, KeNHA is sourcing for funds and all the bumps along the highway will be replaced with footbridges. In the meantime, we urge motorists to exercise caution ...” The contact is [email protected]

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REAL TIME: On an appeal by Francis G. Muhindi to carry out routine maintenance during off-peak hours, KeNHA corporate affairs boss Ndungu says “the authority has engaged a contractor mandated to maintain and repair any damage on the road in real time”. The heavy traffic jam at 5 pm on January 19 on Museum Hill, Nairobi, he explains, was because the contractor was replacing guard rails and had to park a truck on the road. “We urge motorists on the Thika Superhighway to exercise caution and courtesy when any maintenance is being done to ensure that we have minimal snarl-ups.”

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IT MAKES NO SENSE: Of what use was it having elegant high-mast security floodlights erected at the Ruaka bypass on Nairobi’s southwestern outskirts towards Limuru town, yet they have been out of order since last month? asks local resident Githinji Kamau. He just cannot help but wonder whether the Kiambu county government is no longer interested in boosting security for residents. “The bypass gets so dark that some motorists cannot see the road properly, leading to accidents.” His contact is [email protected]

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WORD FOR THE WISE: Some free advice from university students from don X.N. Iraki! Says he: “Bringing services closer to the people only works with merchandise, but not with higher education. Get away from the comfort of your village and county and let others challenge your thinking. That home away experience is more important than your grades. It might appear expensive but the returns are very high in the long run. Ride on globalisation and make the world your playground.” His contact is[email protected]

Have a globalised day, won’t you!

Friday, January 29, 2016

THE CUTTING EDGE

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

CUSTOMER LOYALTY: Much as loyal customer Christopher Kibiwott would like to see the struggling Uchumi Supermarkets chain succeed, he is increasingly getting quite frustrated. He wonders how the company hopes to get out of its huge debts when it cannot hold onto its existing customers and attract new ones. According to him, “the shelves have limited goods, and on paying, out of the 12 teller counters, only two will be operating, meaning that you queue for eternity”. Sometimes, he claims, customers pack their goods for themselves. His contact is [email protected]

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CITY IN THE ROT: As Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero plays the blame game over service delivery, Antony Alex Irungu moans, what was once proudly referred to as the ‘City in the Sun’ is fast turning into the ‘City in the Rot’. The governor, he adds, has not only failed to live up to his lofty election campaign promises, he seems to relish passing the buck. “When there were heaps of stinking garbage, he blamed the rain for hampering collection. And just the other day, he blamed cartels at City Hall for the shoddy services. What are the suffering city dwellers supposed to do?” His contact is [email protected]

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RATEPAYERS: Thika Town’s Section 9 residents should be exempted from paying their 2016 rates, Nitesh R. Shah, demands, citing the lack of services, including road maintenance. The estate roads, Nitesh claims, were last refurbished several years ago, after intense lobbying by the ratepayers. With the Kiambu County government having launched a project to widen the main road into the town, he moans, traffic has been diverted to Section 9, destroying the little that had remained of their roads. “In addition, the area is polluted and insecure.” His contact is [email protected]

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PUBLIC TOILETS: A resident of the coastal resort town of Mombasa, David Maina, is more concerned about the plight of the people who get pressed while in the streets and have nowhere to relieve themselves because the “public toilets have disappeared”. David would like to know who was allocated the plots on which the public toilets stood not long ago. He hopes to hear from the National Land Commission and the county leadership on what they plan to do about this. His contact is [email protected]

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CORRUPTION: A man, who has lived in Nairobi West for the past six years, Godwin Manyengo, reacting to Chintan Gohel’s lament about the poor state of roads in the area, says it has not always been that bad. According to Godwin, who lives on Muhoho Avenue, the roads used to be recarpeted two to three times a year. Corruption, he claims, is largely to blame for the neglect of the roads as the money allocated for regular maintenance, is diverted into some individuals’ pockets. His contact is [email protected]

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CANNOT GRADUATE: The irony of education nowadays is that at college or university level, it is the parents or guardians, who must follow up marks and grades for their charges or forget about them ever completing their courses! Cynthia Matere, whose niece, Stacy Wangari Njiri, has been pursuing an extra-mural programme in mass communication at university, claims that one of the lecturers has totally refused to mark her project since 2014, and, therefore, she cannot graduate. For the details, including allegations about dates, her contact is [email protected]
 

Have an educative day, won’t you!