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Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Anchor, January 2011 Other Stories

State gives Sh1m for
water relief in Mwingi

The Government has allocated Sh 1 million for the Water emergency cash for the Mwingi Central district to mitigate on water crisis in the district as drought intensifies, area DC Peter Kinuthia has announced.
 He said the funds which were channeled through the area district water office will go along way to strengthen water supplies in the semi arid district.
The DC hailed the Government for the support noting that priority will be given to the boarding schools and hospitals which were mostly affected by the drought.
 He asked the Departmental heads to fast track drought situation reports in the district and updates him on the progress so that intervention measures could be put in place before the situation got out of hand. During the meeting, a consulting firm was blamed for delaying works on Sh 4.1 million Phase II of the Kiambere-Mwingi water project.
 The committee heard that the project could not be implemented because the consultant failed to deliver the report on time. Kinuthia who is also the DDC chairman urged Tanathi water services to move with speed and have the report delivered immediately so that the project takes off.
 He said 65,000 people in the semi arid district of Mwingi were in need of food support noting that his office has re-quested for more food to be allocated in the district.
He announced that the district has so far received 1000 bags of maize, 200 bags of beans and 200 cartons of cooking oil to be distributed to the starving residents.
The DC said the vulnerable people will be considered first when the distribution starts and urged chiefs and their assistants to en-sure the needy and deserving people benefited from the relief food.

MPs face off with
contractor at Umaa Dam

A parliamentary committee has decried the stalemate that has led to stalling of a Ksh.1.4 billion Umaa dam in Kitui municipality denying drought-hit residents value of their money.

 The committee on Lands and Natural re-sources noted that the disagreement be-tween the contractor, the client and the consultant was a disservice to taxpayers.
 Committee Vice-Chair Peris Simam who led six MPs in a fact-finding tour of the stalled project pointed out that the prevailing drought would have been alleviated using the dam water.
 She said that the contractor, Draft and De-velop, had not satisfactorily shown the value of Ksh. 575 million paid to con-struct the dam.
 Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo said the money budgeted for the project was public re-sources and the contractor had to show that he had put the money into good use.
 But the contractor, Mwangi Kibe said that the money he had been paid was used to conduct grouting, construction of the spill-way and intake canal.
The committee queried how the contract was varied from Ksh. 800 million to Ksh. 1.4 billion and ex-pressed fears that the cost price could escalate further.
Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito questioned why the contractor, consultant and National Water Pipeline and Conservation Corporation who is the client could not agree on the contract documentation.
“It seems dam experts ignored and the con-sultant who is the supervisor did not originate the designing of the giant dam,” said Kizito. Murugamia Kirimania, of the consultant firm KIRI, told the committee that the de-sign of the dam was done in 1990s and his firm was only consulted in the review of the de-sign in 2006. The committee members also included MPs Njuguna Gitau (Mwea), Benedict Gunda (Bahari) and Benjamin Washiali is visiting major dams that are subject of in-ves-ti-gations by parliament over corruption claims. The committee visited Kiserian Dam in Kajiado county and Maruba dam in Macha-kos county y
 They  also visited  Bardassa dam in Marsabit  and Chemususu in Rift Valley.
Mwingi residents brace for
highest water tariffs in region

The government through Kiambere Mwingi Water & Sanitation Company (KMWSCO) has planned to reorganize the water tariffs after high rate of water pumping in the area.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting in Mwingi town, the KMWASCO chairman Mr. Josphat Mulyungi said that the water company is facing many challenges therefore the need for the price increase of the commodity from the current Ksh. 2 to Ksh. 4 
Also in the meeting was Dr. Bishop Robert Mutemi who urged the local residents to look for alternative means to get the precious commodity like dams and boreholes for the area never gets enough rain. Mutemi who chairs KMWSCO’s finance committee said that only water harvesting and conservation would save the drought hit area since water from Kiambere  was not reliable due to frequent disconnection.  The board member added that electricity cost is a major challenge and its cost goes up to Sh 2 million shillings per month despite other high maintenance costs that leave the company to the mercy of donors. In the last financial year, the company operated at a deficit of Ksh.32, 746,370 after raising an income of Ksh.14, 856,206 over expenses of Ksh.47, 602,576 Tanathi Chief Manager of Utilities and Community Development Engineer Mutuva confirmed that the board is also planning for a new sewerage system in Kitui, Mwingi and Kyuso districts    However, the leaders urged the community to plan for emergency water programs like storing water in bigger tanks and other water alternatives in order to have the commodity throughout the year. 

Food supplies in Kitui continue to
re-duce effects of famine on education

The government will provide meals worth Sh65 to learners in Kitui District every day as part of the revised school-feeding programme. A local education officer Mr. Peter Maundu said Home-Grown Programme for school-feeding is meant to retain pupils in schools from next term. Maundu disclosed that Sh75 million worth of food is also meant to curb malnutrition following prolonged drought in the area.
 He said the initiative is spearheaded by World Food Programme (WFP) but was ini-tially designed to purchase nutritious foodstuff from the area but was revised due to the prevailing drought.
The programme will target all primary schools in Kitui West, Kitui Central and Mutito constituencies as part of the expanded school-feeding programme (SFP).
Maundu observed that the prevailing fam-ine in the area had threatened to interrupt school activities with many pupils dropping out of school to assist families in looking for food.
The educationists admitted the initiative will encounter difficulties in implementation because the rations will have to be sourced from other areas thereby incurring trans-port costs.”It has to be implemented but the pro-longed drought will deny schools a chance to purchase foodstuffs from the area and not incur transport costs,” conceded Maundu.
 Kitui Central DC Joshua Chepchieng’ has since called for a review of the initiative to ensure the pupils got nutritional food not-with-standing the element of transport which he said should be factored by WFP in the face of unavailability of food in local farms.
He said the government intervention was not enough to alleviate the food crisis afflicting local residents and appealed to charitable organizations to supplement the efforts.

You are to blame for poor
exam results, DEO charges

Machakos District Education Officer (DEO) Mr Hussein Abdikadir has accused parents and community leaders in the area of frus-trating efforts to bring faster im-provement in educational standards and per-for-mance of students in national examinations.
Speaking at Machakos School when he launched this year’s form one selection ex-er-cise in the district, Mr Abdikadir said that although performance in national examinations had im-proved for the last three years, there was still need for more action.
“Machakos residents are their own enemies because while parents and leaders in neighbouring districts accepted and supported assessment tests and mock examinations, there was serious opposition in Machakos”, said the DEO.
The DEO’s comments appear to suggest that if Machakos residents accept the tests, then the performance levels would improve. The truth of the matter is that residents have no problem with the tests as long as education officials do not use them to fleece parents.
Observers say the DEO must make a clear distinction between acceptance of genuine instruments of improving education standards  versus endorsing a structure that Education officials and teachers convert to a cash cow as often happens leading to abuse  and his office does nothing or very little to stop.
The implication of supporting the tests is that parents would pay for the exams, which goes against the government policy of Free Primary Education(FPE). When FPE was introduced by the NARC government in 2003 after the fall of Kanu, tuition and other school levies that kept pupils away in the years of misrule were banned, leading to many poor students accessing education in unprecedented numbers. Education offi-cials and teachers have been using tricks to re-introduce these levies using all sorts of names, triggering resistance from parents. The DEO also criticized local media for depicting educations standards in Macha-kos district as dropping while in actual fact there was marked improvement.”In 2009 alone Machakos was the most improved district in Eastern Province while the mean score had improved by 3.81", he said. Residents of Machakos are demanding that education officials to put their best foot for-ward and ensure that Machakos re-claims its place at the top of the chart and not the mere decimal 3 improvement, says a mem-ber of the Machakos Residents Asso-ciation  Mr Jackson Lau. “ What the DEO fails to grasp is that the media has a responsibility to ensure that education fraternity does not go to sleep as they have done over the years. The fact that there was a small improvement is en-cour-aging but not good enough to make everyone jump to the roof tops in self-praise”, Mr Lau added. The DEO said the Government was de-ter-mined to bring back the lost glory of the district which was number one in Kenya in the 1994 KCPE and had remained among the top ten in Kenya through the 1990’s. Mr Abdikadir challenged secondary school head teachers and their staff to ensure chil-dren joining their schools excelled much more than their entry status. The DEO asked head teachers to ensure fairness while selecting form one students by respecting their choice of secondary schools noting that only day schools should give preference to children from surrounding villages.

Five illegal colleges 
closed down

Government crackdown on bogus training in-sti-tutes continued in Machakos town as five institutions which failed to produce cer-tifi-cates of registration from the Min-is-try of Higher Education were closed.

The operation kicked off at 9.00 am led by Principal Accreditation and Quality Assurance Officer Mr Fredric Iraya and East-ern Pro-vin-cial Technical Training Edu-cation Officer Mr Francis Macharia with armed policemen and mem-bers of press.

 The five unregistered in-sti-tutions closed in the heart of Machakos town included Broad-way Commer-cial College, Mshono Com-puter Training Institute, Straford College and El Shadai Training Institute in Mumbuni and Prime Computer College and Services.

 Four proprietors and an employee were arrested and taken to Machakos police station. The colleges have violated Education Act and Cap 211 for which they face a fine of sh5,000 or six month jail term or both.

 ”A fully registered institution should offer quality and standard education in addition to good infrastructure like computers, labo-ratory, library and working space. It should also have qualified lecturers and enough training fa-cilities as per number of students”, said Mr Macharia.

 He said the operation will continue to other parts of Lower Eastern Province to ensure that all unregistered institutions are closed down.  Any closed institution will not be opened un-til it meets the required registration. Mr Iraya said 386 training institutions were registered, 369 had expired pro-vi-sional registration certificates and 114 were operating without a certificate of registration countrywide.  He said after a notice was issued to institutions to register, there were 110 in the country that had not responded to the notice and remained unregistered.  In Eastern province, Mr Macharia said there were 52 unregistered colleges while in lower Eastern Province in Machakos, Kitui and Makueni counties there were 18 un-reg-is-tered colleges by January 10, 2011. The Act stipulates a registration fee of sh1000 which Mr Iraya described as too low as to be defaulted.


House Committee
scrutinizes Maruba Dam

Parliamentary committee on Lands and Natural Resources  visited the Maruba Dam  as investigations into graft allegations at the Ministry of Water intensified. Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo led the committee members on a tour of the dam that was rehabilitated to a tune of Sh 380 million to verify whether the amount was properly used and if the dam will be able to curb water shortage that had rocked Machakos residents for a long time. Maruba dam was first constructed in the late 1950’s by the colonial government. Rehabilitation of the dam has increased water storage from 600,000 cubic meters to 2.45 million cubic meters and water supply to increase from 2000 cubic meters per day to 8500 cubic meters per day. The dam is supposed to serve a population of about 210,000 residents of Machakos town and its environs but this is not happening due to leakages caused by the old pipe lines. Machakos town MP Dr Victor Munyaka who accompanied the committee said that the old pipe lines needs to be replaced for efficient supply of water in the town. National Water Conservation and Pipeline chief executive Petronilla  Ogutu was taken task by the committee to explain why extra Sh 30 million was added to the rehabilitation of the dam which  was initially allocated Sh 350 million. Mrs Ogutu said that the dam can serve Machakos residents with water for eight months without adequate rainfall. Mr Kilonzo and committee members Benjamin Washiali, Justus Kizito Benedict Gunda and Njuguna Gitau said that they will discuss their findings on the procurement process and table it in Parliament. The committee is investigating corruption allegations of procurement procedures in the ministry of Water

Firm takes up school
fees burden for girl

FIFTEEN-year-old Lydia Ngii Kisoi has the reason to smile after getting full sponsorship for her secondary education from Pan Africa Life Insurance Company, Machakos branch.The branch sales manager Mr Michael Masila said the insurance company is in drive of sponsoring the less fortunate students in Machakos County who had performed well when he presented a cheque of Sh 19,127 to Lydia who had scored 336 marks in last years KCPE.The amount will cover Lydia’s fees for a year. She joined Matungulu Girls Secondary school Matungulu District.
Lydia’s  parents are unable to pay  her fees due to poverty. There are many more poverty stricken pupils whose fate hangs in the balance due to their parent’s inability to pay fees
“Every year we identify five needy students who had scored well in KCPE through the help of teachers and pay for their secondary education from form one up to form four,” said Masila He said they are carrying out tree planting and medical check ups in schools as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Democratic Party opens
offices in Wote, targets County MPs

The Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) has opened its first County office in the country in Wote town, Makueni County where the party county executive will sit to coordinate party affairs in the five constituencies. 
Party leader and former Mbooni MP Joseph Konzolo Munyao who officiated the opening of the office said that the party is on a drive to register members and strengthen the party at the County level in readiness for 2012 polls. 
“We want to have more members at the County level so that we can capture most of the seats created in the new constitution and that is why we are going to open offices in all Counties,” he said. Mr Munyao said that DP is still strong and that those who think that the party is finished are mistaken. He also urged President Kibaki to make sure that the next president comes for the Democratic Party that helped him capture the seat.  “Our party has been producing presidents and now what we ask Kibaki is that he makes sure the legacy goes on and endorse a presidential candidate from the party in 2012,” Munyao said The former minster was accompanied by the party organizing Secretary Jacob Haji, deputy treasurer Fabian Murugu, election chairman James Karithi, women representative Lilian Mwaura and national branch coordinator Fred Waithera. Mr Munyao added that the Ocampo six should be taken to Hague and that the Vice President is wasting time and taxpayers money because the African Union (AU) is not a member of the United Nations Council (UN).  AU is not a member of the UN council, membership is through individual countries so I do not see the reason why Kalonzo is busy doing shuttle diplomacy to save the Ocampo six. We can even add Ocampo more suspects if they are not certified,” he said But the Party leader took issue with the ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo saying that instead of dealing with the real issues he was being pulled into the Kenyan politics. Munyao also took the opportunity to declare his interest for the seat of Senator of Makueni County. “I have been a Minister for a long time and now I want to go the next class which for is to be the senator of Makueni County,” he said amidst applause from the crowd.

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