BBI fanfare as West Pokot mourns

By Joel Onyango | Wednesday, Nov 27th 2019 at 11:44
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The manner in which the landslide disaster that has so far claimed more than 50 lives in West Pokot County is handled is appalling. When tens of Kenyans lost their lives in the terror attack at Westgate mall years back, the incident was declared a national disaster and government paid a lot of attention to the matter. This begs the question: Are the people of West Pokot second class citizens? Are some Kenyans more special than others?

It is sad that as the people of West Pokot mourn, government officials seem to have their attention on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). They are now gathered at Bomas of Kenya for the BBI launch fanfare, even as West Pokot grapple with deaths. Had this tragedy happened in Niarobi, would government's attention have been this divided?

In a country where the government has the interest of the people at heart, the BBI launch could have been postponed so as to give victims of the landslide priority. Besides mourning, some of the families have no food, water or shelter. Even the sight of government officials, particularly the President, would comfort them.

Instead, it looks like it is business as usual, with government busy transporting thousands of villagers to Nairobi to attend BBI launch razzmatazz. Besides Deputy President William Ruto, who went to condole with affected families, those charged with the responsibility of ensuring those victims are taken care of, like Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and his Devolution counterpart Eugine Wamalwa, gave flimsy reasons for not getting to the scene on Monday.

The area governor, John Lonyangapuo and journalists have been there since the day disaster struck, yet government officials claim they cannot access the place. You can sing and dance at Bomas over BBI, but just know it marks the end of the Big Four agenda.

The highly disruptive and divisive BBI will take all the attention from development. The President should know that his legacy is up in smoke and no meaningful work will take place going forward, for BBI has literally launched 2022 campaigns. The treatment given to this tragedy is an example of how we always get our priorities wrong. 

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