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Raila calls for food banks before total lockdown

Friday April 10 2020
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'

The Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has supported calls for a total lockdown in case the Covid-19 cases become adverse, but challenged the government to first plan on how to ensure sustainable food distribution to poor Kenyans.

Mr Odinga said there is need for the creation of food banks to help Kenyans especially the urban poor in case of a lockdown should the coronavirus cases persist.

“We have faith in the government and whatever action it has taken to deal with this pandemic. I however, call on plans to cushion the public against its effects by providing food especially in slum areas in case of a total lockdown as we battle the monster,” Mr Odinga said during a Friday morning interview on Citizen TV.

The former prime minister said Kenya’s sole aim at the moment is how to tackle the pandemic currently ravaging the globe and should not hesitate to make adverse decisions for the sake of Kenyans safety.

He pointed out that the government should pay keen attention on areas such as Kibra, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mathare, Kangemi among other slum areas in Nairobi as well as urban counties of Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kakamega in terms of food supply.

Mr Odinga also challenged leaders not just to stay at homelike any other ordinary Kenyans but instead come out and offer a helping hand to the poor majority.

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“Politicians must not keep quiet and just stay at home. Those fond of attending Church harambees during the weekends must now come out and spend such funds to offer help to Kenyans at this time of the pandemic,”Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga added that Kenyans, particularly legislators and politicians, must not shy away from declaring their status on coronavirus and taking necessary steps to avert its spread but warned Kenyans against spread of malicious propaganda of their status.

“To suffer from the virus is not a crime. Let nobody be ashamed of declaring his or her status and isolate. Let us be like those great leaders in Europe who have taken a bold step to declare their status and consequently go for isolation.”

He also condemned the originators of a fake list of legislators purportedly suffering from the virus in the Country.

“It is wrong to speculate on ones health. Let us not use the pandemic to play politics and to tarnish other people's names,” added Mr Odinga.

He told Kenyans to cooperate and heed to the government’s demands to deal with the virus and cautioned police against extensive use of force to deal with Kenyans during curfew.

“Police must handle Kenyans with gentleness. They must not beat up Kenyans and Kenyans must also be disciplined and uphold the law. You must observe curfew hours and follow the law,” Mr Odinga said.

He also welcomed the government’s plans to import maize in its efforts to avert a food crisis as it battles the spread of Covid-19.

“I support Peter Munya (Agriculture Cabinet Secretary) on this. The government is at liberty to import maize to address the shortage especially during this time of the Covid-19 spread” he said.

The government has authorised the importation of four million bags of maize to avert a food crisis as it fights the virus.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the government would import two million bags of white maize for human consumption and another two million bags of yellow maize to be processed as animal feed.

On the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Mr Odinga regretted that its implementation timelines could be interrupted but was quick to add that process had not been stopped.”

“Reggae (BBI implementation process) has not stopped. Reggae is still on. We are just on half time,” the ODM leader stated.

"The BBI implementation timelines could, however, be affected but we hope we shall find a quick solution to this pandemic and continue with the process," he noted.

He said they were only left with Nairobi after eight BBI countrywide rallies and they hope a quick solution to the pandemic will be found and the work continues.

“BBI steering committee in the process of finalising their work. We hope that after this the team shall have ready their report so that we go to Kenyans for constitutional change,” he said.

Mr Odinga also denied claims that the BBI team had a budget of Sh10 billion, saying those spreading the rumours were enemies of the drive.

 “Such claims are untrue. We have just received some cash from the government and help from donors. So far, in the eight rallies, we have only spent about Sh100 million,” said the ODM leader.

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