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Idle youths need employment, not ‘impressive’ projects like stadium

Friday January 3 2014

South African workers demonstrate in

South African workers demonstrate in Johannesburg as part of a nationwide strike. South Africa's economy added 193,000 jobs in the third quarter, bringing the unemployment rate down to 25 per cent, the government said. AFP 

MAGESHA NGWIRI
By MAGESHA NGWIRI
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The senator came up with the plan but did not say anything about new plans to encourage starting businesses for youths.

Two months ago, a number of us were thrilled to learn from my senator in Kajiado County that his Assembly planned to legislate the building of a stadium on the outskirts of the sprawling Ongata Rongai township.

As the Senator explained, too many young people were idling away their lives because they were jobless.

The underlying message was that the chaps were likely to be lured into substance abuse, drunkenness, prostitution and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

A brand new stadium would presumably help them while away the idle hours and to come to terms with their predicament.

But I did not hear the senator suggest other ways in which these young, hapless chaps could be kept out of trouble besides playing football all day.

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I strained, in vain, to hear how the County Assembly would help create jobs. Nobody said anything about new programmes meant to encourage business start-ups for the youth. And nothing was said about investing in vocational training.

Beyond that, I happen to live in, arguably, one of the two dirtiest towns in the former Rift Valley Province – Ongata Rongai and Kiserian.

These are two of the fastest growing towns in the county, but they suffer from the twin challenges of official neglect and acute lack of infrastructure.

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

One, of course, is a direct result of the other, and neither can be blamed on the senator, the County Assembly or the county government.

The former Ol-Kejuado County Council is solely responsible, for apparently, its leaders considered the area to be too cosmopolitan, being inhabited as it is by mainly the Kikuyu, the Kamba and the Kisii, in that order.

The result is that the whole area has no functional clean water provision infrastructure – people have to rely on salty borehole stuff – and no solid waste disposal system.

Wouldn’t piped water and a sewerage plant make more sense in these circumstances?

There is no drainage to talk of, and not even a dumpsite, which means that when it rains, the towns turn into giant puddles of putrid waste, and the stench that results is overpowering.

And we are not even talking about roads. The two towns are served by one old and narrow road which was built during the colonial times and which has never been upgraded in any significant way.

As a result, the traffic jams on that road have become legendary, for it takes an average of two to three hours to make the 20-kilometre journey to and from Nairobi.

What the area really needs are subsidiary roads within the towns, which would not cost too much compared to the number of man-hours lost every day due to the congestion in the towns themselves.

There is also the issue of rampant insecurity, which is within the ambit of the county government to contain.

Poverty breeds lawlessness, and joblessness is usually the main cause.

If the County Assembly had bothered to consult the people as it should, they would have pointed out that without security, they cannot be as productive as they should.

Now, nobody has a bone to pick with Senator Peter Mositet, and had he been addressing these issues, the residents of these two towns would have no problem with his plans for a stadium.

Isn’t it time the county leaders got their priorities right?

Shelve this project at once. Something, besides the garbage, really stinks.

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I was highly amused to hear from a colleague that if I ventured into some social places in Kikuyu township and its satellites in Kiambu County, my health and well-being could not be guaranteed. Why?

Because people over there believe I am an ardent supporter of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, which, in a curious twist of logic, must mean that I am against President Kenyatta.

Now, I can’t remember expressing my ardent support for either; at least not publicly. Where could that have come from?

Our political system is ailing, and this is because of ethnic chauvinism.

As long as I don’t sing fulsome praises and sycophantic lullabies for either of the two political rivals, then my convictions are suspect.

Now, that is what I call really sick!

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