Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
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SHOUTING MATCH: The war against corruption is, sadly, degenerating into a shouting match between some top politicians in the Opposition and those in the government, moans Charles Akelo, disgusted with the name-calling that he fears will only create animosity and not take the country a step further in tackling the menace.

Says he: “The best these people can do is to present the evidence of graft to the agencies charged with fighting it instead of making allegations at public rallies.”

His contact is [email protected]

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TWO-THIRDS RULE: The most shocking thing about an advertisement placed prominently in the newspapers recently by Kenya Power, Mombasa resident Andrew Thuo says, is the skewed composition of the company’s senior management.

“Out of the 11 members of the senior management team, only one is a woman.”

Alluding to the two-thirds gender rule in appointments for public sector jobs, Andrew wonders whether CEO Ben Chumo and the board have read the relevant section of the Constitution.

His contact is [email protected]

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BOREHOLE BREAKDOWN: Residents of Riverside Estate in Kiambu town feel terribly let down by the Kiambu Water & Sewerage Company, whose performance, Edith Thitu says, has been rather wanting.

The estate is supplied with water from a nearby borehole, but its pump is prone to frequent breakdowns and repairs often take as long as two weeks.

“If this company cannot do it, why not let Nairobi Water Company, which has a reservoir in the area, provide the service?” asks Edith, whose contact is [email protected]

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IT WORKS: Online renewal of driving licences actually works, says National Transport and Safety Authority official Dominic M. Kabiru. An applicant, he adds, must first sign for an account with eCitizen by logging in to ntsa.ecitizen.go.ke and following prompts including entering one’s national identity card number, email address and phone number and uploading one’s photo.

Once payment has been confirmed, the applicant can print the renewal slip, which is also available in their eCitizen account. NTSA’s helpline is number 206632300.

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FOLLOW-UP: Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who must have his hands pretty full with all manner of problems and challenges in running the metropolis in the sun, is sometimes sabotaged by his own officials and perhaps needs a more efficient mechanism for following up on his directives.

George Ndara claims that some 16 months after the governor donated Sh100,000 to fire victims in Kariobangi in Eastlands, the intended beneficiaries have not received a single cent.

“Why should it take so long?” For more details, his contact is [email protected]

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RIDICULOUS LAW: Of the numerous bylaws in force in Nairobi City County, Dr M.K. Adalja finds most ridiculous the one requiring the residents to seek permits from City Hall to paint their own houses.

But as if that is not bad enough, he adds, “it is almost impossible to get it without ‘a gift’ being demanded by the officials responsible for issuing that permit”.

He concludes: “It is a case of pointless red tape that only encourages corruption.”

His contact is [email protected]

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ON SOVEREIGNITY: How can Kenyan claim to be independent when the British can restrict its citizens, including top leaders, from going to a part of their country and also bring in weapons local security forces do not know about? asks Prof Chris Macoloo.

Lauding Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed for lifting the lid on the “shocking arrangement” in Samburu, Prof Macoloo says: “They should be reminded that the only object on earth that still trembles before them is jelly pudding and that the sun set long time ago on the British Empire.”

His contact is [email protected]

Have a sovereign day, won’t you!

PO Box 49010, Nairobi 00100
[email protected]

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
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INVESTIGATIONS. The National Youth Service has lately been in the news “for all the wrong reasons”, remarks Ruth Gituma, alluding to the recent reported inside attempt to steal about Sh800 million from the organisation and riots in Kibera, Nairobi, in which a public toilet was damaged.

It is a sharp contrast, she adds, from the “fantastic job the NYS did during the freak floods in Nairobi and Narok.” She warns: “But where there is smoke there is a fire. Let investigations be carried out.”

Her contact is [email protected]

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GRIDLOCK. Disturbed about the day-long queues of trucks at the Mlolongo weighbridge that are the cause of the heavy traffic jams on Mombasa Road, Ernest Ogwora wonders whether it is a consequence of the recent transfers of more “experienced police officers”.

Ernest would prefer that the officers, who were accused of corruption, be left to clear the road instead of having the drivers pay the price by suffering in the gridlock.

His contact [email protected]

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MARIKITI CHAOS. Recalling that Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has numerous times pledged to have the Marikiti groceries wholesale market on Haile Selassie relocated to some place in the Eastlands, Hemant Patel says the sooner it is done to restore some sanity and enable the place to be cleaned up the better for the central business district.

Besides the garbage mess and traffic jams, the chaotic scenes are compounded by “chokoras who yank lights off slow-moving cars”.

His contact is [email protected]

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POWER CONNECTION. The two quotations Francis Okash got for electricity connection in Nyando, Kisumu County, were given because he made two different applications, one in July and another in December last year, in the name of Rosemary Ayuka, Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo clarifies.

He adds: “The two applications had different construction requirements. Also, the house is 720 metres from a transformer and 120 metres from the closest customer, and not 70 metres, as he indicated.”

He says the applicant has also agreed to help with investigations into offers by some people to reduce the quotations for a “small fee”.

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KIND POLICEMAN. To most motorists, Jane Achando notes, any sign of a traffic police officer “usually signals trouble”.

But on a cold Thursday morning when her car stalled in the middle of Waiyaki Way, Nairobi, she got a rather pleasant surprise.

“A traffic policeman … not only asked what the problem with my car was, but stopped other motorists to help jump-start it. And when it didn’t start, he stood there with me for nearly an hour until a mechanic came. I didn’t get his name, but I really appreciate his help.”

Her contact is [email protected]

Have an exemplary day, won’t you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

TAX RETURNS. The Kenya Revenue Authority needs to do more to educate individual taxpayers on how to file their annual returns, Michael Mburu appeals.

As this year’s deadline approaches, he adds, accountants will be quite busy assisting taxpayers to activate their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).

But Michael doesn’t see why people in formal employment need to file their returns as this is done by their employers. “A law should be enacted to ensure that only registered businesses file returns. This needs to be streamlined.”

His contact is [email protected]

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WASTE DISPOSAL. Nairobi and other towns do not have well-planned waste disposal systems, says Christopher Kibiwott.

Though the counties are clamouring for the devolution of public health, he adds, they are not paying adequate attention to waste disposal, and yet there is a clear link between this and healthy living.

“A well-managed sanitary landfill is the best way to ensure a clean environment and provide raw materials for the recycling industry. We have the expertise, what is needed is money and visionary leadership.”

His contact is [email protected]

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BAD ROADS. There are no roads left in Parklands, Nairobi, moans Shobhna Shah, appalled at the deterioration of what used to be fairly good roads in the neighbourhood.

According to Shobhna, it is these dilapidated roads that are largely to blame for the traffic chaos in this part of the metropolis.

“Drainage is also sorely lacking as has been made evident during the recent heavy rains when most roads turned into small rivers.” The worst, Shobhna says, is the Ojijo Road, Mogotio and General Mathenge roads.

Shobhna’s contact is [email protected]

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REWARD CUSTOMERS. Tuskys Supermarket should reactivate its customer loyalty reward system, which has been dormant for more than two years, urges a disappointed Nathaniel Gaitho.

Without appreciating its customers, Nathaniel adds, the supermarket chain’s ongoing business promotion is just a gimmick.

But following recent complaints, he claims, there has been some talk of secret redeeming of points on select items. But he sincerely hopes Tuskys will see the need to come clean on what could be going on.

His contact is [email protected]

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DANGEROUS WORKS. Though happy about the ongoing reconstruction of roads in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, Mathew Kiragu is not impressed with how the contractor is going about the work.

He is particularly concerned about the widespread excavations. With most of the roads dug up, the contractor has ended up leaving “very dangerous open trenches everywhere”, hugely inconveniencing pedestrians.

He asks: “Can the aggrieved citizens force the contractors to complete the job and fill up the trenches?”

His contact is [email protected]

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HUGE POTENTIAL. Kisumu Town is a sleeping giant, remarks university economics lecturer X.N. Iraki, on the great potential in the lakeside region that is yet to be tapped to spur development.

“With plenty of land and scenic views of mountains and the lake, coupled with warm weather, I see no reason why Kisumu cannot give Nakuru, Kampala, or Nairobi a run for their money. The city is less stressful with no serious traffic jams. To wake up, the town needs to suck in more diversity just like Nairobi and other cities. In fact, I am looking for a plot …”

His contact is [email protected]

Have a progressive day, won’t you!

E-mail: [email protected]
or write to Watchman,
POB 49010, Nairobi 00100.
Fax 2213946.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

TAX RETURNS. Kenya Revenue Authority should not only extend the iTax returns deadline, but should also allow some taxpayers to file their returns manually until the new system becomes fully operational, says Evans Macharia.

He adds: “Most of the time, the system is down or simply inaccessible. KRA must put its house in order as the cyber café owners who can do this are taking advantage of the crisis to milk the taxpayers dry with high charges.”

His contact is [email protected]

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EPITOME OF CHAOS. The wholesale groceries market, Marikiti, on Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi, is the “real definition of disorder and impunity”, remarks Mose Maragia.

Handcart operators, hawkers, and all manner of brokers, he adds, have taken over the area and occupied a part of the road, inconveniencing motorists. This, Mose, explains, is a problem that does not require immense resources to solve and the City County Government should not give any excuses.

His contact is [email protected]

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CONSUMER RIGHTS. Who protects the rights of people buying merchandise online? asks Mohammed Fazal. A couple of months after buying a tablet through Jumiaonline, he says, the battery would not last long enough despite being fully charged. 

Mohammed was then referred to a smart technology solutions provider who promised to look into it. But a month later, he was told the battery does not have a warranty and that only the operating system does.

“What can I do and where do I go?”

His contact is [email protected]

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WAITING FOR A LOAN. Nearly eight months since he applied for a loan from the Kiambu Biashara Fund, George Njunge says he has not heard a word from the officials and wonders what all the excitement in the county was all about.

George is not amused, having spent nearly 50 hours filling and handing in the loan form together with a comprehensive business plan, as the key requirement.

“Is this programme that was meant to help improve our standard of living still on, Governor William Kabogo?”

His contact is [email protected]

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TRAVEL ADVISORIES. The announcement by the British Government that it has lifted travel advisories against the Kenyan Coast is good news and a great relief to the ailing tourism industry, says Asoka Itur.

But Itur cannot help thinking about the coincidence with the killing by Kenya Defence Forces of a British terrorist among 11 Al-Shabaab militants, who recently tried to attack a military camp in Lamu.

“Could they have been aware of the activities of this man, and hence the advisories?” His contact is [email protected]

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LEARN FROM ZIMBABWE. Just back from a visit to Zimbabwe, Churchill Amatha says that not everything is as gloomy as has been painted about the country, and Nairobi could borrow a leaf from Harare on planning and organisation.

“The Zimbabweans may be down, but they are not out and they are, indeed, a very proud people. Harare is a neat, well-planned city, and with fewer traffic jams than Nairobi. Most of the roads are one-way and have multiple lanes.”

His contact is [email protected]

Have a comparable day, won’t you!

E-mail: [email protected]
or write to Watchman,
POB 49010, Nairobi 00100.
Fax 2213946.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

NOISE POLLUTION. The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) should strictly enforce the law against noise pollution, urges Arlene Hutchinson, disturbed about the Two Rivers development in Nairobi.

“What are the rights of the neighbours of this monstrosity? Surely, construction is not allowed to go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a residential area? The noise from the multi-billion-shilling complex is violating the rights of its neighbours at Closeburn, Rosslyn, and Runda. Does Nema wish to do its job?”

For the details, the contact is [email protected]

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POWER WOES. When Francis Okash applied for electricity connection to his mother’s house at Kano Kobura in Nyando, Kisumu county, he was slapped with a quotation of Sh956,000 (Ref E24102014070256).

He was later told it had come down to Sh400,000, but some fellows kept going to the home, saying that for “something small”, they could have it reduced to Sh35,000.

The nearest home with electricity is 70 metres away. “I believe I should pay Sh35,000 or the new fee of Sh15,000.”

His contact is Tel 0737408320 or [email protected]

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BILL PUZZLE. A Nairobi customer who likes to pay his bills regularly, Batuk Sanghrajka says Kenya Power is not helping him at all and he suspects that somebody could be deliberately making him pay more than he actually should when his bill finally arrives.

“With my meter not having been read for a month, I am not charged any units, but these will be doubled in the next one, depriving me of the lower tariff benefit.”

Six months ago he wrote to inquire about this and has not received any response.

His account number is 2434104-02 and his contact, [email protected]

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LONG WAIT. The 2011 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam candidates of Mbita High School have yet to receive their certificates, moans one of them, Aspin Otieno.

Normally, he adds, the KCSE certificates are delivered to the respective examination centres a year after the exam results are released.

But four years later, Aspin and his former classmates are still waiting, and their enquiries to the relevant office have not borne any results.

His contact is [email protected]

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SHAME OF POTHOLES. The section of the Nairobi-Mombasa highway between Maji ya Chumvi and Mackinnon Road is crying out for repair, says Joseph Ngata, adding that what was once a smooth surface, following recent repair, is now a potholed mess that shames the Kenya National Highways Authority, part of whose responsibility is maintenance.

He hopes the badly damaged road will be repaired before a horrible accident occurs as motorists try to dodge the holes.

His contact is [email protected]

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CUSTOMER INCENTIVE. Why don’t the numerous water companies around the country ever reward their loyal customers as other firms and even supermarkets often do? asks George Njoroge.

Raffles and other competitions run by mobile phone service providers, malls, airlines, other transporters, beer and soft drinks manufacturers all reward customers for patronising them.

“Water is the healthiest drink on earth. Why can’t they sponsor competitions?”

His contact is [email protected]

Have a rewarding day, won’t you!

E-mail: [email protected]
or write to Watchman,
POB 49010, Nairobi 00100.
Fax 2213946.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Cutting Edge

By THE WATCHMAN
More by this Author

WE KNOW: Following the killing of British terrorist Thomas Evans among 11 al-Shabaab militants who attacked a military camp in Lamu, Duncan Njau says he can now begin to understand why the man’s home country is always so eager and ready to issue travel advisories against Kenya, citing insecurity.

“The British authorities must have been aware that there was a dangerous criminal on the loose, having failed to apprehend and prevent him from leaving their country. They should tell us how many more are still out there.”

His contact is [email protected]

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FRIVOLOUS GROUNDS: As debate rages on the National Assembly’s rejection of Monica Juma’s nomination for the position of Secretary to the Cabinet, Joseph Musyoki, upset about her having been locked out on frivolous grounds, says he has an idea about what the job advert should have been.

“The candidate must not be highly competent, but ready to dine with the MPs. Poor control of public coffers will be an added advantage. Those with no experience in bootlicking and pampering MPs need not apply.”

His contact is [email protected]

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VETTING CIRCUS: The vagaries of democracy, Ben Njenga moans, can make a semi-literate MP, sitting on a parliamentary committee, interview a PhD holder and determine his or her fate.

He adds: “However, to avoid making these vetting sessions appear like circuses, Parliament should formulate SMART criteria for committees.”

This, he adds, will ensure that the process is run more objectively and professionally so that competent persons are not locked out merely because they appear arrogant.

His contact is [email protected]

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SECRETIVE LAW: The contempt of court law is bad because it is being used selectively, claims Mutamba Ng’ang’a. While TV show host Jeff Koinange and political activist Tony Gachoka were quickly convicted and each slapped with a Sh2 million fine recently, one prominent official is “still a free man despite numerous convictions for contempt of court”.

Nobody, therefore, can convince Mutamba that the law is not being used “as a weapon to harass and intimidate the not-so-politically-correct people”.

For the details, he can be reached through [email protected]

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ETHIOPIANS HARASSED: Alexander Dean, who frequently hosts Ethiopian visitors, claims they are often targeted for harassment by some crooked Immigration officers at the JKIA.

Ethiopians, he adds, are usually taken to the back office and “asked extremely stupid and irrelevant personal questions such as why they don’t have Kenyan husbands”.

And after being held for an hour, Alexander alleges, they are asked to pay bribes. “... the authorities should take action,” demands Alexander, whose contact is [email protected]

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SPARE THE GOOSE: Do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg, warns X.N. Iraki in response to the proposed law that seeks to give KRA sweeping powers.

Dismissing it as uncalled-for, he says it is a “sinister way of grabbing land and other assets from us”. Corrupt officials, he argues, “just need to target you and you are poor in no time. The government must appreciate the work of feeding it with money is not easy. Are there any rewards for those who pay their taxes before time?”

His contact is [email protected]

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BLATANT DISCRIMINATION: A notice Sam Owuor saw in Nairobi recently stunned him, coming so many decades after the end of the blatant discrimination in the use of public facilities that was prevalent in the colonial days.

It reads: “Polite Notice – Nannies and drivers, please, use the toilets in the parking area. Thank you!” Sam, who had taken his daughter to a swimming gala off Waiyaki Way, couldn’t believe what he saw in the toilets.

“I am still shocked,” yells Sam, whose contact is 072645841 or [email protected]

Have an equal day, won’t you!

PO Box 49010, Nairobi 00100

[email protected]