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We’ll not suspend services over coronavirus scare, says Mutua

Wednesday March 18 2020

Alfred Mutua

Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua addresses the press on March 18, 2020. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

LILLIAN MUTAVI
By LILLIAN MUTAVI
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Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has assured local residents that services will not be interrupted despite the measures taken to slow down the spread of coronavirus in the county.

Meanwhile, the county government has set aside Sh100 million to enable the Health department mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor called on companies, factories, construction firms and the business community to continue operating, but to put in place measures to ensure a working environment that will combat the spread of the virus.

He said they cannot afford to close down operations, unless the government provides funds to cushion the county and its people against the tough economic times ahead.

“There is danger in shutting down since we do not have an economic cushion like developed countries, which are giving their people money and business so that they can counter the losses occasioned by the coronavirus. In Kenya, we live from hand to mouth so, if we do not work, we will have a big problem,” Dr Mutua said.

He said he had held a Cabinet meeting and after a survey found that the high-risk areas were Mavoko, Kangundo and Machakos town, which are densely populated, while Masinga is sparsely populated.

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He said that, while the virus does not necessarily kill those who get infected, it is straining the county’s budget and healthcare system.

He called upon the national government to meet with governors to discuss their economic situations and the measures they have put in place to cushion them against the looming economic problems.

He noted that some countries were giving business tax breaks, adding that the Kenyan economy is not versatile, hence a serious debate on the issue should be initiated.

He praised the national government for providing equipment for isolation centres and training health workers to combat the coronavirus. The county boss said that his government has more than 150,000 people working in Athi River, Mavoko Sub-County, who depend on wages to feed families and who, if told to go home, will see a surge in crime.

He said that reviews on some of the measures will be carried out in two days depending on the number of new infections.

The county boss said that, if the county suspends operations for three months, it will lose almost Sh500 million which will make it impossible to pay salaries, collect garbage and supply water.

At the same time, Governor Mutua said the disease could be a blessing in disguise for the country since leaders will be forced to look into ways of fixing the country’s health system.

He said the poor and rich will now have to seek treatment locally since they cannot travel abroad.