The way we handle policy issues in Kenya is appalling. On Monday, thousands of commuters in Nairobi were treated in one of the most horrible ways a government can treat its people.
It was not the first time residents of Nairobi county have been gravely inconvenienced. Through a combination of arrogance and misgovernance, both young and old were forced to walk for kilometres after Governor Mike Sonko revisited the directive requiring public service vehicles to park a couple of kilometres off the central business district.
Without preparation or concern, the County Government implemented the order that ended up making residents walk across town through massive human traffic, and in narrow streets and lanes. It was akin to an exodus from an imminent attack.
To be fair to the overambitious Sonko, this is not the first time this order has been implemented. Former governor Dr Evans Kidero also implemented the directive for several days, until sense was restored.
How does a government supposed to improve the welfare of its people do the exact opposite by enforcing drastic measures with such indifference to the grave ramifications? It is a sheer display of obliviousness and insensitivity to the poor conditions of the daily lives of ordinary people.
Sonko’s response to the commuters horror before Senate was that walking is good for Nairobi residents, as many do not go to the gym! It reminds one of the infamous quote by the queen of France Marie-Antoinette in 1789 who, it is said responded, “let them eat cake”, after being informed that starving peasants had no bread.
But this is not about Sonko. The governor is just part of the cancer that has long afflicted the body politic in this country, where leaders do not give a hoot about the impact of the decisions they make.
Then there is the issue of boda bodas, our now ubiquitous and inevitable mode of motorcycle transport. There are now a million of them on Kenya’s roads; and counting. Indeed, it was a stroke of economic genius when retired President Kibaki removed import taxes for the motor- cycles to mainstream and promote the business.
A decade later, however, boda bodas have brought both joy and misery to thousands of people in equal measure. While they have facilitated massive economic inclusivity for millions across the country, they have also led to fatalities that have dearly cost individuals, families and the country’s health sector.
In his usual element, the public spirited Internal Security Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i recently crossed over to his colleagues at the Transport ministry, to streamline the sector. But instead of receiving support from politicians, the latter are predictably on his case about how their people’s – it is always about the people – livelihoods are being undermined.
But those are two different issues. Indeed, boda boda operators would earn more if order, safety and security were incorporated in the picture.
Undoubtedly, there are people in Kenya, read cartels, who only thrive through anarchy. It is an unholy alliance between greedy individuals and shamelessly corrupt law enforcers who will stop at nothing to get their undeserved bottom line. – The writer is a communication expert and public policy analyst [email protected]