Ministry directive will hurt business, say booksellers

Tuesday January 2 2018

 Parents buy books in Nairobi on Friday

Parents buy books in Nairobi on Friday ahead of the new school year starting Tuesday. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Booksellers in Nakuru Town have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and suspend the decision by the ministry of Education to supply books directly to schools effective this month.

The traders now want dialogue with the ministry to save their businesses from total collapse.

Led by the former national chairman of the Kenya Booksellers and Stationers Association, Mr John Mbugua, the traders said that they stand to lose Sh2 billion if the ministry implements the directive.

Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said the ministry would not relent in its efforts to curb corruption and end book cartels in public schools.

However, on Monday, Mr Mbugua said that besides the industry players losing billions of shillings, thousands of workers would be rendered jobless.

CHAOS

“The directive by the ministry of Education is a recipe for chaos and will result in the death of the sub-sector that employs more than 10,000 Kenyans,” said Mr Mbugua.

He said most members of the association were not opposed to the plans but were requesting for public participation before the ministry goes ahead with its plans to supply the books to schools.

He said most of traders have massive stocks in their shops which they had planned to sell this month.

“We acquired these reading and writing materials through bank loans and heavy overdraft, hoping that come January we shall have a ready market for our goods, and that is why we are appealing to President Kenyatta to intervene,” said Mr Mbugua.

He said rogue booksellers should face the full force of the law.

CLEAN BUSINESS

“Majority of our members engage in clean business deals and should not be punished because of the wrongs of a few corrupt individuals,” said Mr Mbugua.

While issuing the directive, Dr Matiang’i accused some school heads of colluding with briefcase booksellers to deny the Kenyan child access to quality education.

Mr Mbugua observed that most of their members are yet to be paid more than Sh500 million by some of schools for services and material supplied.

At the same time, a parents association has raised alarm over fraudsters selling text books not approved by the ministry of Education.

National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo on Monday cautioned parents against falling prey to conmen.

“All text books are provided by the ministry of Education,” said Mr Maiyo in Eldoret.

He faulted some school principals for directing parents to buy text books saying that such a move was illegal.