The other day, I wanted to buy airtime from my bank account. I was informed that to buy 20 bob credit, I would be charged Ksh 10 and Ksh 2 excise tax. I deemed that too expensive and noted (in my mind) never to go that route again. Since there was an option to continue. I promptly said No and went to look for credit elsewhere.
The Jubilee government also provides services to its citizens but at exorbitant prices. Consider this: SGR is up and running. It is supposed to add 1.5% into our GDP but one feels that full value for money wasn’t gotten. Were you happy or sad that we didn’t at this time secure funding for Naivasha to Kisumu?
We are fighting counterfeits and tax evasion, etc, but to small scale traders this means empty shelves. Until the President intervened. Why did we register for Huduma Namba? No, it wasn’t voluntary nor did we have knowledge of benefits. It was the veiled threats that your phone could be switched off etc. We stopped logging to increase forest cover, but it was the mandazi sellers, small hotels operators, the mutura and soup makers who paid with their low revenues. Gas was to replace charcoal but well we know how that went.
National Youth Service (NYS) attendance has increased since this admin came to power, as per its manifesto. But for us what we know are scandals after scandals, maybe it should have been disbanded instead. Many other instances abound.
There are many reasons for this. One of them is that the government has been a poor communicator. The benefits both immediate and long term aren’t well articulated for the common mwananchi to appreciate.
There is also little or no attempts at consensus building. For example, the new education curriculum -the CBC. it’s important for our children and nation and should have come like yesterday. Yet it will go on with or without the teachers buy in, never mind that they form an integral part of its success. Or the affordable housing agenda.
Lack of common sense consultation is also a hindrance. Not the public participation mandated by law and dutifully done. But we have our ferries made from Turkey while Uganda ask our companies here in Mombasa to make theirs. We are getting our new RT buses from South Africa while Tanzania are contracting our firms in Mombasa Road to make for them.
We have the capacity locally, but just pay them lip service. We treat foreign companies better than our local traders especially the small-scale ones. Right now, we are waiting for the green light to import maize. Then we will have space and money and other facilities that farmers in the north Rift can only lament about.
Insiders have had a heyday in the government. And with that corruption has thrived.
Whether diversion of money meant for projects, tailor-made tender requirements; or knowing that SGR is passing through a village in Nyeri. So, buy land in hundreds and sell a few months later in millions. Or that a company wishing to operate locally must cede shareholding to officials to be registered.
Finally, the government has really overused its hard power. Whether in militarisation of exams. Or declare banning of imports. The new currency looks cute but it leaves a peculiar bitter taste. Just the other day there was a proposal to ban use of manure and selling of raw milk. This ‘ kwani mtadu?’ attitude is not healthy and such actions make the government seem as if it’s at war with its people.
Let us check this. The government can’t afford to be paying such a high price every time it needs to get something done. It is the difference between leaving a lasting positive legacy. Or having people sighing with relief that the era has come to an end.