Embu MCAs seek to be exempted from curfew rule

Monday March 30 2020
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Embu County Assembly Speaker Josiah Thiriku (standing) speaks during a special sitting on March 27, 2020. The assembly has written to State security apparatus seeking to have ward representatives recognised as personnel offering essential services following the government’s order on the dusk-to-dawn curfew. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GEORGE MUNENE

The Embu County Assembly has written to State security organs seeking to have ward representatives recognised as personnel offering essential services following the government’s order on the dusk-to-dawn curfew which started on Friday.

In a Gazette notice issued Thursday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i exempted workers and companies who offer 20 services he termed as essential.

But MCAs were not listed among those offering special services.

However, Speaker Josiah Thiriku on Friday said that MCAs play a critical role in society during times of calamities and emergencies, adding that the leaders cannot afford to be on lockdown while residents suffer as the police enforce the curfew.

LEGISLATION

He observed that MCAs might also be called upon to legislate beyond the official hours and, therefore, need special consideration by security agencies during the curfew.

The Speaker said this as ward representatives reconvened for an extraordinary sitting to pass the first supplementary budget for the 2019/2020 financial year.

The MCAs had to wear face masks and maintained a one-metre distance during the special sitting called to reallocate county funds and realign departmental vote heads.

SITTING ARRANGEMENT

The Speaker altered the House sitting arrangement as a measure to protect the leaders against possible transmission of Covid-19 which is currently ravaging the world.

All MCAs were required to wash and sanitise their hands, wear face masks as well as hand gloves before entering the debating chambers.

The ward reps allocated Sh22 million to Governor Martin Wambora’s emergency kitty to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in Embu County in a contingency plan aimed at protecting residents in case the killer virus is reported in the region.

ISOLATION WARDS

The Embu Level Five hospital as well as several other sub-county hospitals have already set up isolation facilities to deal with the deadly scourge.

Deputy Speaker Steve Simba confirmed that the assembly allocated Sh120 million for the supply of drugs in public hospitals and also made a provision for the purchase of adequate non-pharmaceutical supplies, a move that he said is aimed at alleviating the problems encountered by patients seeking treatment at the county’s hospitals.

But the Runyenjes Central MCA expressed his disappointment with cashiers at the Embu Level Five Hospital’s outpatient department for blatant refusal to embrace cashless methods of payment as recommended by the Ministry of Health, saying insistence on cash payments exacerbates the danger posed to locals in the wake of the coronavirus spread.

FOLLOW GUIDELINES

County Assembly Health Committee Chairman Muturi Mwombo urged Embu residents to embrace the regulations imposed by the government to curb the Covid-19 spread in the country.

The Ruguru Ngandori MCA warned against a wrong perception that the State is out to oppress its citizenry, adding that the stringent measures are for the good of the general public.

SUPPORTED CURFEW

Budget and Appropriations Chairman Harrison Mwaluko, who is also the Mwea Ward MCA, supported the ongoing curfew and proposed a total lockdown of the country if Kenyans defy the order to stay at home during the night.

The MCA said the Sh22 million county emergency kitty was a drop in the ocean in light of the covid-19 pandemic but termed it a step in the right direction.

Muminji MCA Newton Kariuki challenged the government to be pragmatic while dealing with the coronavirus, saying that the reduction of value added tax and imposing of a curfew will not directly benefit the common man. He said small scale traders need to be cushioned against the negative effects of the outbreak on the economy through expansion of trade opportunities.