alexa The government pushes, citizens resist - Daily Nation

The government pushes, citizens resist

Friday October 13 2017

More by this Author

Last weekend there was a story about a new National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) sticker that was to obtained, paid for, and affixed on the windscreen of every motor vehicle.

Then there was a story about the new tax stickers that will be affixed to every bottle of water, fruit juice or cosmetic.

The ban on polythene bags appears to be on track, despite some resistance from plastics and packaging companies.

Meanwhile, Kenya Power is rolling out a new numbering system for its post-paid customers, and Governor Mike Sonko is the latest incoming Nairobi leader to announce a removal of matatus to decongest the CBD.

In many urban areas, apartment and homeowners are in a panic and in talks with ‘solar solutions experts’ about new energy regulations that require any building that uses more than 100 litres of hot water per day to install and use solar water heating systems.

The deadline of May this year was extended to November 2017. Solar is going to be the future, but are we there yet? Many homeowners would rather have a consistent supply of clean, cold water in their taps, rather than worry about heating it.


These changes to the daily lives of individuals and businesses are well meaning, but they are costly and require behaviour change. They may be good for everyone, but they are often resisted.

A decade ago, it was installation and use of seat belts in public service vehicles. Seatbelts are good and they save lives, but if they are not kept clean passengers will not use them. The same with boda boda helmets.

Citizens who resist these initiatives have achieved a level of comfort in obtaining and paying for government services, only for the government to pull them further in. The government hopes such moves will make services better for people once they adjust and teething pains are over.

Young homeowners may not remember there was a time that you could exchange empty gas cylinders from only one brand or company, the one that sold you the cylinder. A universal value was introduced in the country to replace that and now they are interchangeable at any petrol station.


At a TEDx Nairobi event a few years ago, rally driver Patrick Njiru spoke of how he advised Kenya’s finance minister on how the Japanese paid for road licences. This knowledge was adopted in Kenya, via a fee charged in every litre of petrol. That ended the long queues on the stairs and halls of KRA’s Times Tower, where vehicle owners used to flock to pay and obtain road licenses for each car every December.

New initiatives need to be better explained for them to succeed, more so if there is a cost citizens have to pay. The Energy Regulatory Commission, the National Transport and Safety Authority and Kenya Power need to better explain, advertise and execute campaigns to show how these initiatives will improve lives of Kenyans.

More integration and collaboration would be nice. For example, while you can’t interrogate your NHIF or NSSF statements or status online now, these organizations could integrate with the existing online e-citizen registry instead of each of them spending a few hundred million shillings building their own separate apps or platforms.

Twitter: @bankelele