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Hope we don't end up with roads that 'fit our pockets'

By | May 13th 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Charles Ndegwa

The Chinese always get a bad rap for the substandard goods imported into the country by businesspeople out to make a killing. A few years ago, one Chinese embassy official even went on the defensive, saying that they made goods to fit everybody's pockets.

This is true, of course, because a toy that ends up on a shelf in the West is miles superior to the junk being flogged in our supermarkets. Our savvy traders have discovered wananchi would rather buy one ‘cheap’ item over and over in the illusion of saving. Pity.

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The one area where our friends from the East are getting plaudits is in road construction. For those who have seen the Thika superhighway take shape, the wide-eyed gawking and neck-craning is still common.

But PointBlank still has a problem with the fact that the contractors have refused to do more to mark risky sections of the road and reduce the risks of collisions, or vehicles veering off into trenches.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this is in keeping with "fitting Kenya’s pocket."

Customer care thrown out the window

Equity Bank customer, Mr Godfrey Nyangori, went to bank a salary cheque at the Kenyatta Avenue Nakuru branch last week on Wednesday. He was requested to see one of the managers but the meeting did not go very well.

Instead of being assisted, he says he felt like he was being interrogated, which made him feel intimidated. In the end, despite pleading and ‘humbling’ himself, he left without being served. If Equity is interested in finding out what so irked Nyangori, his e-mail address is [email protected]

And further up the highway in Eldoret, Ms Leora Kiona also did not have the best customer experience during a visit to the municipal offices to pay a friend’s land rates.

"I inquired at the Payment Counter where I found two women who welcomed me warmly and told me to get a print-out of the required information from another room," Leora says.

But the woman she found manning the desk was "very rude and impolite", and she even went ahead to insult Leora. It appears that service with a smile is not so common after all these days.

Steep cost of sleep in varsity

A guardian of a student who has just reported to Multimedia University — a constituent of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, says he is "disturbed" at his experience these past few weeks.

"First, the admission letter came on April 27 at a time when the Higher Education Loans Board had not released funds. This, I understand, is done in July. So I had to pay tuition fees and buy everything needed to ensure the student reported to school to avoid a one-year deferral," the guardian says.

But on reporting to the university, which is situated on the city outskirts, he was shocked to learn that he’d have to pay Sh12,000 for accommodation for a room shared by four students. By his calculations, a single room would rake in a cool Sh48,000 a term.

Parallel degree

"This cannot compare to the Sh7,000 paid by University of Nairobi students in the city centre. To make matters worse, I had to part with Sh10,000 for food. Can the administration clarify why students selected by the Joint Admissions Board are being treated like their colleagues who study under the parallel degree programme?" is his final request.

All paid up but still no electricity

For a long time, Ms Ajela Ndindi Muisyo lived in the dark in her house situated in a shopping centre called Kenya-Israel near Machakos town.

However, in December last year, she approached Kenya Power and Lighting Company for electricity and a contractor was dispatched to work on her house. He did everything except install a cut-out and an earth rod. Telephone calls to him to finish the job have proved fruitless, so Ajela thinks it’s time KPLC cracked the whip.

Her account number is 3276831-01 while the number on her deposit receipt is E21432008110041.

Power up your officers’ world, Commish Iteere

A police officer attached to the Nyamaiya Police Station in Gucha Division first wrote to PointBlank on February 11 decrying the lack of electricity (Powerless police station still in the dark ages). One month later, a reminder was published (MoU between KPLC and cops will be illuminating).

The officer lamented that when writing reports, they were forced to use torches to see what they were doing. In some instances, a small lantern was provided, which barely had enough light to illuminate the station. He narrated how provision of clean drinking water was a mirage and how officers were forced to share quarters in ‘ancient’, wooden houses.

In this day and age of rural electrification, can’t Commish Mathew Iteere strike some sort of deal with KPLC to power up his officers’ world?

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