Work-abroad Scheme To Be Introduced

| Mwamadi Sumbukeni

Youths seeking to work abroad will no longer have to be exploited by greedy middlemen who ask for exorbitant charges for jobs that are already available thereby locking thousands of Kenyans from potential employment.

This is because the Youth Enterprise Development Fund is initiating an ambitious scheme where those seeking for abroad job opportunities will be supported through an integrated process where local job seekers and foreign employers will be handled by a structured labour export secretariat that would cut out job agencies.

A section of youth following proceedings at a chanuka ujitegemee event. PHOTO/Mohamed Seif

A section of youth following proceedings at a Chanuka Ujitegemee event.
PHOTO/Mohamed Seif

A Youth Employment Scheme Abroad (YESA) secretariat will be set up in all 47 Counties where people will be able to upload their credentials and the secretariat will facilitate job searches by scanning opportunities available abroad that matches the particular qualifications of an individual, according to Youth Enterprise Development Fund’s Chairman Gor Semelang’o.

At a time when there have been increasing cases of shoddy employment contracts leading to disputes especially for Kenyans working in the Gulf countries this scheme also means that Kenyans working abroad will be cushioned from the whims of such bosses.

“It means that we will look at the contracts that you sign before you travel abroad and we’ll also be able to inform our ambassadors abroad the people who are going and where they are going and the contract they’ve signed and a copy of that contract so that young people would no longer be molested in foreign countries when they seek these employments” said Mr. Semelang’o.

As part of the scheme those leaving the country will also be granted a migration loan in the form of a three per cent non repayable air ticket loan in addition to free medical test and small upkeep money.

“We are also partnering with the ILO and IOM to do what is called pre-departure training, we train you before you leave the country for the culture shock,” he added.

Noting that this model has been successful in the Philippines he stressed the need of borrowing a leaf from the East Asia country in an effort to streamline the labour export industry.

“That’s how Philippines has done it and we want to do that here because there are many young  people who have skills here but they don’t have jobs,” said Mr. Semelang’o. “It is structured labour export it means we can ask the government to give us a billion and we put back into the economy shs30 billion” he said.

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County Set For Population Explosion

Leaders in Kwale County have been urged to clear up misconceptions on family planning and to urge Kwale residents to plan their families so that development can be achieved.

“We have an opportunity to plan our future and our families. We have embarked on a journey to transforming this country. Transforming the population to be self dependent and people live in prosperous country,” said the County Commissioner, Evans Achoki.

Mr Achoki said that Kenya’s Vision 2030, envisage a middle income economy where people shall be able to access their necessities, however Achoki noted that for this to happen effective planning is mandatory.

Kwale’s population as at the 2009 Census was 649,931 persons and is projected to increase to 713,488, 783,261 and 833,527 persons in 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively.

According to statistics from the National Council for Population Development (NCPD) 36 per cent of county’s residents are youth and 55 per cent are children.

“If (these youth and children) do not realize their dreams then we will have a big problem in our society.” Mr Achoki said adding that society has a role in reminding youth of their role in  development.

“Boys need to be taught that their role is not to impregnate girls and run away and girls needs to be taught how to safeguard themselves from getting early pregnancies.” said Karugu Ngatia, the NCPD Deputy Director Programmes and Coordinating.

Mr Ngatia, who was speaking at a sensitization workshop on the new national population and development policy, emphasised that family planning is not for the women but for the family.

 

Archbishop: Strikes Will Destroy This Nation

| Mohamed Seif

A senior clergyman is calling for the voice of reason to prevail in the teachers’ strike.

Anglican Archbishop Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala says teachers should be reasonable. PHOTO/Mohamed Seif

Anglican Archbishop Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala says teachers should be reasonable. PHOTO/Mohamed Seif

Speaking in Likoni on Tuesday, Anglican Archbishop Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala said that the agitation for higher salaries by parliamentarians, county reps, nurses and now teachers, are causing the country’s goals to be being sidelined.

“It is almost three years since we started the journey of the new constitution. There were numerous expectations from the constitution that may have made us not to take cognizance of the warnings about the storms that abound the journey,” the Archbishop said.

He said frequent disruptions to the country’s development could be an indication of misplaced priorities including the existence of constitutional gaps, lack of due diligence in ensuring proper planning and a negative societal attitude among others.

“My call is that we need to consult and solve our problems through negotiations because at the end of the day strikes will destroy this nation” he said. “I am persuaded that we will weather these storms if we  stick together and focus on our national goals and aspirations and remain ready to sacrifice for their realization.”

Garbage Dumpers Take a Verbal Thrashing

| John Maina

Unlicensed garbage collectors who use carts in Mombasa County are facing the heat
for the oceans of garbage that are threatening to swallow the entire city.

Experts in the industry and residents alike accuse them of dumping anywhere and everywhere after they have collected the garbage from their customers. Most of these garbage collectors use carts and polythene paper bags to collect garbage but instead of taking the trash to the dump-site or various designated collection points around the county, they continue to dump in restricted areas especially those that pose a hazard to the residents and are an eyesore for the city.
DSC05299
The acting city manager for Mombasa, Martin Achal, says garbage collection is a challenge for the county government because most people live in the central business district; generating more garbage than the authorities can handle, especially as the county garbage trucks are almost always in need of service.

Achal says of the sixteen trucks used in garbage collection, only eight are functioning. Having this addressed, and imposing heavy penalties on those dumping illegally, would alleviate the situation greatly, he says.

He said they have information that some people give bribes to the city askaris who man the areas that are not designated for dumping so they can allow illegal dumping. He says the county will take action on those they catch in the act.

However, Stella Abooka, a private garbage collector puts the blame squarely on the authorities and unregistered garbage collection outfits who she says only compound the problem by not following the law.

She suggests that the police should take action on them for risking the lives of locals.

“Some of these people give garbage collectors in general a bad name. The public should be only hire approved cleaning services and garbage collection firms,” she told CTW.

High cost

The business of garbage collection is an expensive affair since prices charged by the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council have doubled since last year. This in the long term raises the cost of operations for anyone who is involved with trash collection business in Mombasa County.

On the use of plastic bags for garbage collection services, Ms. Abooka says that her company uses the bags because they know that they are going to take the garbage to the right place at Mwakirunge dump-site where there are people who collect plastic bags for recycling purposes.

More Than 4000 litres Of Illicit Brew Impounded

| M’bwana Omar

As the government puts in measures to eliminate all illicit brews, liters of intoxicant were poured and equipment destroyed at Bangladesh Changamwe district of Mombasa County during a raid aimed at arresting the distillers.

Illicit brew

During the raid 100 liters of chang’aa, 4000 liters of kangara, 400 grams of bhang were recovered and 3 suspects arrested.

According to one of the distillers, Everlyn Nambuya, the brewers have been in the business for the past five years as their only means for sustenance.

Mrs Nambuya said since her husband died a while ago, she has engaged in the business and used the money to pay school fees for her children. She said the prohibitive license fees of opening a registered bar, and the high cost of renting stall as some of the reason why slum dwellers take the easy way out.

“Chang’aa and kangara are like our husbands, she said.

The haul that was poured down the drain is estimated to be worth at least Ksh. 40,000.

Speaking on behalf of the residents and others, Mrs. Nambuya urged the government to give them ample time to source for alternative business that was legitimate.

In response, the Assistant County Commissioner, Kennedy Gitonga Murungi said that the raids will continue until all perpetrators are brought to book

Murungi warned all those involved in the sale, transportation, storage, as well as usage of these products, that the government was watching them and that they would face the full force of the law.

 

The Jubilee Government and Sufuria Economics

| Dr. Oduwo Noah Akala

The three month old Jubilee Government a fortnight ago presented its first of five national budgets to the people of the Republic. The proposed budget amounts to massive 1.6 trillion shillings…More than the Ugandan and Tanzanian national budgets combined! This ambitious financial plan is on the back of exuberant electoral promises made by now President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto during the course of the campaign period. This also has to be the first time in modern Kenyan history that a Finance Minister, now referred to as the Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Mr Henry Rotich, has said in Parliament that “I do not know where the money will come from.”

Kenya is in a peculiar socio-economic and political conundrum. This is because in our country, the minority of the population is employed and earning an income. It thus follows that it is this minority that pays tax which funds Government and all of its activities. Yet, when it comes to choosing a Government, it’s the majority who are unemployed and do not pay tax that have the final say. The non-tax paying majority essentially decides how tax revenue generated from the taxpaying minority is going to be spent.

This imbalance in the system is an austerity ticking time bomb as the tax burden on the employed minority increases year after year to service impractical programs of which we have been presented with a host. It is important to note that the budgetary deficit amounts to roughly fifty percent. It is common knowledge that any budgetary deficit is a tax just waiting to happen; it’s not a question of if but when.

The idea behind applying a Value Added Tax on basic commodities was actually the International Monetary Fund’s. This is not a new concept. It was one of the recommended pre-conditions to the Kenyan Government prior to the release of donor funding. The idea being to tax consumption and allow relief on income tax so as to spread the tax net wider. However, the Jubilee Government has deemed it wise to hit the Kenyan people with both a relatively high Pay As You Earn tax as well as a Value Added Tax of 16% on consumption. The Kenyan worker is bound to groan under the weight of expectation from the tax man.

Even more difficult to fathom are moves such as taxing welding rods and applying VAT on sanitary towels. Welding rods are used by Jua Kali artisans working in small scale businesses across the country. Jua Kali artisans are the face of micro-enterprise in Kenya. A tax that burdens small business while big corporates are raking in profits of billions is not only immoral but inequitable as well. With regards to sanitary towels, we had made progress in the past five years by first making them tax free and following that up with a Programme to provide girls in public schools with sanitary towels for free. This basic intervention ensured no girl ever missed school for natural biological reason and girl child performance improved drastically. Why tax sanitary towels now? What will happen to the Sanitary Towels for Public Schools Programme?

All these taxes would not be a problem if the people were receiving a commensurate level of service from their Government. Sweden has an income tax rate of fifty percent! But, the public transport is reliable and extensive, healthcare is catered to by the Government and so is education up to University level. The end result is that this Scandinavian nation has one of the highest standards of living in the world. We, as Kenya, are nearing this level of taxation yet we have forty percent of our population living on less than a dollar a day, the world accepted indicator for poverty!

This is what has informed the raft of industrial action that the Government is facing from public servants across the board. Teachers have issued an ultimatum to go on strike from midnight today on the back of the Government failing to honour a Collective Bargaining Agreement dating back to 1997 and yet this same Government presents an ambitious 54 billion shilling Laptop Programme. Nurses in the National Referral Hospital followed suit. Expect the same in the coming weeks from doctors.

I put it to you, that this Government is disconnected from the hopes and ambitions of the Kenyan people. Our leadership is not in tune with what we as Kenyans aspire to.

Security checks a ticking time-bomb

photo owen baya

| Owen Yaa Baya

 

As I jetted back into the country and checked into a hotel for a well-deserved rest I was welcomed by metal detectors at the gate, car peeping and mirroring of the underside of my car. I let the uniformed boys and girls of the local force do their job after all they have families to feed and needs that require money. I was carrying three suitcases and other paraphernalia. They only peeped in the car boot saw the luggage and paraphernalia but asked no questions

Then I visited the malls and found many more Askaris, passing their metal detectors over people entering and exiting; detecting nothing. People who wouldn’t stop to be frisked were still allowed to continue into the malls. In the parking lot, I asked them what it was they were looking for in passing the detectors and the mirrors underneath the cars and peeping through tinted car windows. None of them seemed really aware of what it was they were looking for, except for bombs and grenades.

Now looking for bombs and grenades is like going to the forest to hunt for snakes. It requires some technique and some snake handling skills. It also requires one to have protective clothing, anti-venom in case one is bitten, and the appropriate snake-catching equipment.

Looking at these Askaris – the equivalent of Kenya’s modern-day bomb, grenades and explosive experts – you imagine that our country’s security system is a joke. These Askaris are actually doing a very important and dangerous job of which they know nothing about. Important because the lives of the people in those buildings depends on them, and dangerous because hunting explosive and assault weapons on people puts these guards in the frontline in case of attack.

As you observe these guys do their jobs you realize that they do not have any form of communication equipment to alert law enforcement or call for back-up in case of emergency. So what would they do if they found a bomb or a grenade? The long winding answers they gave me means one thing: they do not know!  Worse still they did not have any equipment that could be used to disable a terrorist. Do they know the tactics of disabling someone carrying an assault weapon? Do they know the protocols of dealing with hazardous materials? The demeanor of the Askaris indicates they don’t.

More interesting is that these ladies and gentlemen only look for things which can be detected by metal detectors. To the best of my knowledge bomb-making material cannot be detected by metal detectors. A phone can be a gadget that can be used to make a bomb and detonate it. A Mobile phone itself can indeed be a bomb so why do they allow mobile phones into the buildings without screening them. They won’t touch your bag if you tell them that what is inside is a laptop. But we all know that laptop cases have been used to make highly explosive bombs!  In fact the practice is that when the touch your pockets and you say that’s a mobile phone they are okay with it and they do not need to see it. If you say those are car keys they do not screen them.

During a real security check anything in the pocket must be removed and passed through a screening machine to make sure that nothing is hidden in the phone, in the wallet, in the computer, the keys, or the materials of the belt and shoes. Our Askaris are only interested in the content of the pockets when in fact nothing should be in the pockets during security checks.

Metal detectors carried by clueless, untrained personnel will not in any way prevent terrorism. Methinks security checks in buildings exists to create employment and passing on money to security firms and passing on more money to foreign manufacturers of metal detectors. Unless checked this will eventually have catastrophic results. I keep wondering whether the security firms that have insured the Askaris against a real threat at these check points.