When going backward takes us forward as a country
Recently, Professor George Magoha, our new Cabinet Secretary for Education unflinchingly declared he has no reverse gear. That is a weighty proclamation coming from a man whose presence in Cabinet inspires renewed confidence in government.
This is understandable given the enormity of the task ahead of him to reorganise the enterprise that is our worrisome education ecosystem.
Even when quickly going forward, he must take a few steps back to recover lost ground and leave nothing to chance in draining the swamp in his docket.
His bare-knuckles approach must be extended by his colleagues, albeit creatively to four other areas, to further restore public confidence.
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First, go for synergies in government departments that normally never work together. For instance, in order to raise the awareness of crime and to dissuade citizens from partaking in these vices, get the Kenya Museums to partner with the prisons department.
Let them build day jails at the museums where convicted criminals can be ferried to daily and locked up for public viewing as the immediate past’s icons of unwanted behaviour.
It will pull in both revenue and crowds. It is only in seeing that children will believe corruption is not a desired way of life. It will trigger conversations in schools and homes.
Second, the authorities can innovate around existing infrastructure to support law enforcement.
Fuel stations can aid to weed out smoking cars and those with worn out tyres, and without a single police officer in sight.
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Every car must pass by a station to fuel up and hence an easy place to prevent rather than cure all manner of road mishaps. Our roads must only have road-worthy vehicles.
The stations must also be compelled to test exhaust emission levels, failed break lights, blinkers and worn tyres. Failed vehicles must be taken away for corrective repairs by road-worthy tow trucks.
The potential inconveniences will encourage compliance. We save on public health expenditure and add thousands of extra vehicle inspectors at no cost to the public.
Third, get the public transport system in Nairobi working efficiently again. If we conquer Nairobi, then we can entirely reclaim the national transport system.
Back in the day, we purchased a monthly megarider ticket that gave us unfettered access to any Kenya Bus Service vehicle, destined for any place on its scheduled routes. People could plan in advance and it worked well for unaccompanied school children, the employed, the hustlers and first-time visitors to Nairobi.
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The primitivity that manifests through recklessness and law-breaking at will must stop as it rubbishes Vision 2030 ideals of a happy and prosperous citizenry.
The industry in its present form has failed to self-regulate. No business should be allowed to thrive without its core customers trust as it goes against business fundamentals.
Bare-knuckles are needed here in consolidating all PSVs under a maximum of two transport companies. They don’t have to like it.
No one in it now is excluded, but only moved into a business model that enjoys public trust by swapping individual PSV ownership for a proportionate shareholding in the mega companies.
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Someone else will manage them.
In time, standardisation of vehicles and the much-needed infusion of professional management in the trade will be possible under such a consolidated approach.
And fourth, get the country back to local foods such as sweet potatoes, cassava, millet, sorghum, and indigenous vegetables. Let us not forget mukombero, always a man’s best friend.
They are all better suited for our changing weather patterns as they need less time and water to mature.
Continuing research seems to suggest that certain types of cancers affect blacks more than whites on account of eating foods better adapted to white bodies.
This is not about discrimination, but adaptation perfected over thousands of years. Nature seemingly purposed what we must eat.
Blacks forcefully taken into the diaspora over 300 years ago, the study suggests, still require African foods to stay healthy. Many of them don’t know about this because they are not privy to the research pointers, but their bodies do.
Running away from our body’s factory settings is an expensive affair. So in our case, processed cereals may make you feel modern, milk stored in plastics instead of nature’s gourds looks classy but healthwise, these are sugar-coated disasters in the making.
There is nothing primitive in going back to our basics if it will make us live longer and give us a higher chance at prospering.
Mr Mugun is a management consultant and trainer
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George MagohaPSV ownership