Kalonzo: We can beat pandemic by strictly following State’s guidelines
| Apr 19th 2020 | 3 min read
Fellow Kenyans, we are well into the second month of the coronavirus pandemic, with the numbers of the infected passing the 200 mark. It is sad that we have lost 12 Kenyans from Covid-19 to date. As we mourn our fallen countrymen, the fact that more have recovered from the pandemic cannot be overlooked. I laud the valiant efforts of the Government to combat the scourge. Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and his gallant team of health officials and medical personnel are doing a wonderful job.
Wananchi, too, have been outstanding in following the directives meant to keep Covid-19 at bay. There is, however, no doubt that coronavirus has exacted a heavy toll on the economy and financial well-being of Kenyans, with the most vulnerable sections of the society most affected. While I laud President Uhuru Kenyatta’s positive initiatives meant to cushion these Kenyans against the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am proposing the following additional initiatives that I believe can go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the masses.
Reduction of energy prices
I note with appreciation that the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has reduced the prices of petrol and kerosene by Sh18 per litre. However, the price of diesel is still very high, having been reduced by only Sh4. Since diesel is the main fuel used in transportation of goods and services, the price cut should have been more pronounced -- and preferably at par with that of petrol and kerosene.
Similarly, the EPRA, in collaboration with bodies such as the Kenya Power, as well as the Treasury, should now institute measures to reduce the cost of electricity. With the ongoing stay-at-home measures, coupled with the 7pm to 5am curfew, domestic consumption of electricity is at its peak now than ever before. On the other hand, petrol and diesel are much needed in the transportation of farm produce and other much needed goods from one part of Kenya to another, while kerosene has long been the choice fuel for the majority of Kenyans, and particularly those in informal settlements.
Affordable and clean drinking water
Covid-19 pandemic places the provision of clean drinking water on the very top of the pedestal in terms of the most essential services. Notably, this service is now under county governments. I appeal to county governments to rise to the occasion and institute measures and programmes geared towards ensuring as much clean water as possible is provided to residents at affordable rates. If possible, counties may even consider waivers on water bills, at least until the virus is defeated. I laud Murang’a county government for giving a one month waiver on water bills beginning last month. Even in the most ordinary times and circumstances, water is an essential commodity; but in this time of Covid-19, it makes a difference between life and death, which will aid regular hand washing.
Free masks to Kenyans
Last week, I appealed to the Government to consider giving free masks to Kenyans who may not afford the vital protective devices. These Kenyans mainly live in informal settlements. This move will relieve such Kenyans of the burden of struggling to look for the money to buy the masks, which they can hardly afford as they strive to eke out a living.
Finally, I urge wananchi to be ever vigilant and continue observing the laid down rules of fighting this pandemic. We shall overcome!
-The writer is the leader of Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya
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