Narok Senator Ledama Olekina has faulted the government’s blanket ban on foodstuff donation and distribution in the country, saying it would be counterproductive in the fight against Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to Standard Digital on Sunday, Olekina said it is wrong for the government to use the Kibra incident where two people were killed and scores injured during a chaotic food distribution exercise to stop well-wishers from helping Kenyans.
He now wants the ban lifted and instead a mechanism put in place to facilitate those who want to help vulnerable families during this tough period.
He told the government to designate secure areas such as stadiums and incorporate local administrators in the process to help well-wishers to orderly donate food to the right people.
“The government can use facilities such as stadium and incorporate Nyumba Kumi, chiefs to identify needy household, with identified people being facilitated to visit with passes and get food.”
Olekina said the government should have picked some lessons from the unfortunate Kibra incident and put a mechanism in place to expedite the distribution and not to ban the good gesture altogether.
The Senator said instead of banning the distribution, the Ministry of Interior should have offered to provide security to ensure that social distancing and order are adhered to during such exercises.
“Let the government work with those who want to help by deploying security officers to bring order during such events, but not trying to micromanage the entire process,” said the ODM Senator.
Olekina singled out Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Pankaj team who have distributed foodstuff and other items without chaos being witnessed.
“There those who have done a good job like Governor Joho and Pankaj team, the government should consider them when giving such decrees,” Olekina said.
He said with the bureaucracy in government, it would be wrong to tell hungry Kenyans to wait for the government to bring food.
“You cannot tell those who can’t afford food should wait for the government to bring it, hunger never waits,” he said.
The senator cited the distribution of face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) which has dragged for weeks due to bureaucracy, saying such lethargy is not needed in food distribution.
He blamed the delay on lack of organisation by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs) and the Ministry of Health in distributing PPE kits.
“We have seen the lethargy in the distribution of the masks and the PPE kits, is this the kind of speed you want to use in distributing foodstuff when people are in dire need?” he posed.
The government on Saturday banned the uncoordinated direct distribution of food and non-food donations within communities across the country after the Kibra food distribution chaos that left two people dead.
In a statement sent to media houses, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i directed any donors and well-wishers who would like to contribute to the coronavirus response actions to channel or coordinate their contributions through the Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.
He said the measures will secure the coordination, consolidation, demarcation and distribution of donations in a dignified manner to the vulnerable members of our society across the country, based on the already developed needs map, whilst ensuring that the same is rolled out in a transparent and accountable manner.
“These additional measures will make the donation and distribution more secure to and enhance accountability in the process,” said Matiang’i.
The move comes a day after two people were killed and scores injured in Kibra during the distribution exercise of foodstuff donated by ODM leader Raila.
The deceased reportedly died on their way to the hospital after sustaining injuries in a stampede as people scrambled for foodstuff and other items.
Raila, his wife Ida Odinga among other sponsors donated a consignment including included food, sanitisers, soap, oil and water, through the national government.