CSs barred from touring the country

Devolution CS Eugine Wamalwa with his Agriculture counterpart Peter Munya when they toured Mumias Sugar Company. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has barred Cabinet secretaries from touring the country as part of efforts to curb spread of the coronavirus disease.

The travel ban, which will be in force for two weeks, follows reports that at least three CSs have contracted Covid-19 and are in self-isolation.

“The president ordered that the trips be stopped for 14 days as part of efforts to tame spread of the disease, which is alarming for now,” said an official aware of the developments who asked not to be named.

Sources said the directive was informed by the fact that the ministers travel with entourages that include principal secretaries and other top State officials.

The tours also draw large crowds that could place citizens at risk.

Covid-19 infections are on the rise with Nairobi accounting for more than half of the cases – 7,744 out of 13,353 – recorded by Monday.

The government is concerned about rising community transmission, especially in rural areas.

Some of the CSs affected by the travel ban include Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Ukur Yatani (National Treasury) and Adan Mohamed (Regional Integration).

They were to visit Marsabit, Isiolo and Moyale from today to Friday, but the trip has been cancelled.

Their colleagues who were in western Kenya have also been forced to cut short their visit. These are Peter Munya (Agriculture), John Munyes (Mining), James Macharia (Transport) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution).

They were accompanied by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and local governors.

Development tours

The Cabinet secretaries were to be joined by Kagwe yesterday in Busia on a visit to Alupe University. They were also expected to commission the Busia-Malaba road and tour other projects before visiting Trans Nzoia County.

The pandemic has severely disrupted government operations despite efforts to regain a sense of normalcy.

In a July 7 meeting, the Cabinet had directed State agencies and public institutions to “enhance the presence and visibility of government through continuous inspection of ongoing projects and robust engagement with the public.”

A number of CSs promptly fanned across the country to ensure that projects in their dockets would be completed within the stipulated time as ordered by the president in order to offer employment to thousands of youths.

Covid-19 has forced the closure of government offices and scaling down of operations in offices where staff have tested positive for the virus, including the National Treasury, Public Service Commission, ICT ministry as well as the National Assembly.

It also emerged that members of the Executive have been ordered to work from home and only go to the office when it is ‘absolutely necessary’.

Another official said the Executive is focusing on a meeting called by President Kenyatta this Friday to assess counties’ preparedness and evaluate the overall national government’s response and capacity to handle the pandemic.

Following the relaxation of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the country has witnessed a surge in the number of positive cases recorded in the past two weeks.

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua said on Monday that government employees were not following regulations contained in four circulars issued on March 17, March 26, April 23 and April 29 on how to avoid contracting the disease.

“It has, however, been noted with a lot of concern that public servants have not strictly complied with the guidelines and measures stipulated in the above circulars thereby exposing themselves, colleagues and their families to the risk of Covid-19 infection and fatalities,” he said.

Kinyua ordered social and physical distancing rules set at 1.5 metres to be observed in the workplaces as well as reducing the number of walk-in visitors whose details should be recorded.

Pre-existing conditions

“All employees with pre-existing medical conditions or are aged 58 should work from home, excluding those in the security sector. All should be provided with face masks and personal protective equipment and sanitisers,” he said.

Kinyua directed that where the concept of working from home has been successfully implemented, such arrangements should continue to apply with clear targets.

Civil servants returning to work after quarantine and isolation must have a medical certificate. “Officers on self-quarantine will be required to report to their duty stations after the expiry of 14 days. No public officer will be allowed to return to work without fulfilling these conditions,” said Kinyua.