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Where is Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti, activists wonder

Monday April 6 2020

Cyprian Awiti

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE ODIWUOR
By GEORGE ODIWUOR
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A section of Homa Bay County residents are wondering why their Governor Cyprian Awiti is missing from the frontline of response efforts to the Covid-19 pandemic as County Commissioner Yatich Kipkemei has seemingly picked up the mantle.

They are concerned that the county government seems to have left the bulk of the coronavirus response effort to Mr Kipkemei, who co-chairs the county Covid-19 management and coordination response committee with the governor.

Mr Awiti’s absence from the frontline has ignited debate among residents on the county government’s ability to combat the spread of coronavirus should there be an outbreak in the devolved unit.

Two local activists have accused the governor of undermining efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 by allegedly ‘deserting’ his electorate at their time of need.

Evance Oloo, the chairman of the Interface Community Help Desk and Walter Opiyo, the leader of Homa Bay Bunge La Wenye Nchi, have dared the governor and his deputy Hamilton Orata to make their presence felt as the country fights the spread of Covid-19.

'MISPLACED'

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When reached for comment, however, Mr Awiti argued that his physical absence does not mean he has abandoned the county.

“We are doing all what we can to prevent possible spread of Covid-19. Screening is done at entry points and those who don’t see this are misplaced,” the governor said.

The lobby groups said absence of the two top county leaders demoralises healthcare workers as campaigns to curb the spread of the virus hit their peak.

Mr Oloo told the governor to be on the frontline and come out to give updates on measures put in place by his government to prevent spread.

He claimed some initiatives aimed at stopping possible spread of the virus in the county have stopped due to the absence of the two leaders.

For example, Mr Oloo said the county government has stopped fumigation of bus parks.

“Fumigation of bus parks was to be done in all sub counties but the county government only fumigated a few vehicles at the bus park in Homa Bay town. Doctors are also worried that they risk being infected,” Mr Oloo said.

TRAINING

He also claims that the county government has not trained all its health care workers as required.

The activist accused the government of failing to provide personal protective equipment for medics and residents.

Reached for comment, however, Mr Awiti denied the claims, saying his administration has trained more than 28 frontline medics to handle any outbreak of Covid-19 in the county.

The governor said he is working closely with the national government to curb possible spread of the disease.

He however admitted that the county does not have ICU beds to handle patients suffering from corona virus.

“ICU machines need experts who can operate them. For now, there are no experts who can help us maintain the machines that is why they are not there,” the governor said.