Monthly Archives: September 2011

Shun tribal alliances, Kenyans told


KAKAMEGA

Sunday, September 25, 2011       KNA      By Chris Mahandara.

Gatanga Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Kenneth has cautioned Kenyans to be wary of tribal affiliations being formed by a clique of politicians in preparation of next year’s general elections.

The MP said such affiliations were against the spirit of the new constitution adding that they were likely to result into violence if not tamed.

Speaking yesterday during a fundraising at Friends Malava Boys High School in Kakamega North, Kenneth said time for tribal alliances was long gone adding that the country requires a non partisan visionary leader to turn around the economy.

The Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 assistant minister urged Kenyans to vet all leaders aspiring for political seats in the forth coming general elections to ensure that only development conscious leaders are elected.

He said it was unfair for some legislators to seek amendment of the constitution to push the elections slated for the second week of August next year to December.

“How can we seek to amend the constitution at a time Kenyans are crying to have it fully implemented,” he said.

Some of the reasons being advanced by a crossection of MPs, he said have no basis since parliament can approve a supplementary budget to have the elections in August.

He termed the move as an act of cowardice saying that he was prepared for the elections and ready to battle it out with other presidential hopefuls.

“They have been leading in opinion polls so why are they scared?” he asked.

The assistant minister further took issue with leaders calling for the review of the names proposed to run the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying they were out to plant their stooges at the commission to rig the elections.

He said the proposed names must not favour ODM or PNU adding that all the country requires is a neutral body to run the elections in a free and fair manner.

 

 

 

Medics overwhelmed by Busia tanker tragedy victims


BUSIA

Wednesday, 21 Sept 2011   By Kakamegatimes reporter

A team of 4 surgeons, a nutritionist and 10 nurses could be dispatched to Busia District to help personnel at the facility to handle victims of the tanker fire tragedy that claimed four lives last night.

Thirty seven others sustained various degrees of burns and are being attended to at the facility with 6 others who sustained serious burns having been referred to Kakamega Provincial Hospital.

13 more victims have been hospitalized at Lupe District Hospital in Teso South District with 5 to 30 per cent degree of burns sustained.

Dr Jane-Rose Mabuchi, speaking on behalf of the medical superintendent said they were doing a reassessment of the degrees of burns sustained in the 8pm fire incident for possible airlifts. She said victims admitted to the hospital inhaled fumes while others sustained serious burns that range between 15 and 80 per cent.

“Some inhaled fumes and currently we are reassessing them because we have some who cannot see and complications will start showing later,” she stated.

All the three facilities require urgent deployment of medical personnel and supplies since the amount of medical supplies in use could get depleted any time.

Sports Minister Paul Otuoma, area PC Samuel Kilele and a team of personnel from the National Disaster Operations Center (NDOC) flew in moments past 9am and visited the scene.

The government officers also toured the facilities to assess the situation.

At Alupe District Hospital where a 12-year-old minor is among those admitted, nurses on off had to be recalled to duty after a shortage of personnel hit the facility.

Dr Jimmy Wafula the medical superintendent said the thirteen victims sustained burns on their faces and limbs but said the hospital is capable of managing the situation. He, however, requested for more supplies.

“Right now what we need most is the IV fluids,” he said.

The NDOC team has arranged for foodstuff and other medical supplies and is also working on logistics with Kenyatta National Hospital to fly in the personnel required.

Dr Ambuchi said Busia Hospital is in urgent need of antibiotics, IV fluids, foodstuff and blood. She said Kenya Red Cross personnel had issued blankets and bed sheets.

Dr Otuoma and Mr Kilele appealed to residents to give priority to their personal safety.
The two said the area was a transit point where oil tankers passed through and
caution should be exercised whenever such incidents occur.

“I bring with me messages of condolence from the President who is New York and the Prime Minister,” said Otuoma.

The minister proposed to Deputy Prime Minister also the Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi to order a relocation of tankers queuing at Busia Boarder Point to avert a disaster.

The oil tanker veered off the road at Suo River Bridge area barely 10 km from Busia Town along Kisumu-Busia Road. \

According to eye witnesses, the fire was
triggered by sparks of fire from the tanker’s battery after a man attempted to
yank it off while tens of others scooped the spilt petrol.

It is feared that more bodies could be submerged in the swamps around the scene and divers could be called to search.

Three die while five are rescued after building collapses


KAKAMEGA

Sunday, September 18, 2011                  By Chris Mahandara.

Three people died while five others suffered serious injuries after a building under construction at Mwibona area in Luanda town collapsed.

The eight were construction workers at the three storey building which succumbed to its weight and collapsed at 5 pm yesterday.

Members of the public rushed to the scene and managed to rescue three people who were rushed to hospital for treatment.

The Kenya Red cross disaster management team from Kisumu and the western Provincial disaster management team arrived at the scene at 6.30 pm and mobilized equipment from various organizations in the area to embark on the resque operation.

Head of the operation from Red Cross, Engineer George Muyera said the team managed to receive a crane, three excavators, two shovels and fire brigade from Kisumu and several ambulances from hospitals in the region.

Full operation with all the equipment working began at 10 pm and at midnight two victims were rescued and rushed to New Nyanza and Maseno hospitals for specialized treatment.

The three bodies were retrieved from the rubbles at 12:15 am and taken to Rabuor Morgue, 2km away from the scene of the tragedy.

After hopes of finding any more bodies in the building, operations were suspended till 8 am this morning.

Engineer Muyera said two of the deceased have been identified as Mr. Victor Amukoa and Mr. Dishon Amataka while the third body is yet to be identified.

Thousands of area residents kept vigil outside the collapsed building with some saying that more people were still trapped in the rubbles.

“There’s a lady and two children who were sheltering at the building before it collapsed,” said one of the onlookers.

However Engineer Muyera said the rescue team had gathered from one of the survivors that the building had eight people at the time it collapsed adding that once the third body is identified and the relatives contacted, the team shall suspend operations.

By the time we went to press, the rescue team was still searching through the rubbles to ensure that nobody was still trapped in the building.

Eng. Muyera thanked the construction companies who donated their equipment for the operation saying with such cooperation western region shall be able to handle such disasters with ease in future.

Muyera who is also a civil engineer said the proprietor of the building did not involve a structural engineer while putting up the building.

He added that the ratio of concrete, sand and ballast did not meet the required standards adding that materials used to reinforce slabs and columns of the building were substandard.

“How could they use Y8 to reinforce the columns?” asked the engineer.

He disclosed that the plan of the building was prepared and supervised by a draftsman adding that after digging through the rabble, the rescue team discovered that the building had no foundation.

Engineer Muyera said the country was sitting on a time bomb since most of the buildings being constructed have not met the required standards.

He said the municipal councils and county councils which are supposed to approve building plans and monitor the construction works lack qualified structural engineers.

As a result most of the buildings coming up in rural towns were a disaster in waiting urging the ministry of local government to address the issue.

Western Deputy Provincial Police Officer Mr. William Okello said that police have launched investigations into the matter adding that once concluded charges would be preferred against the proprietor of the building.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for local government Musalia Mudavadi and Emuhaya Member of Parliament (MP) Dr. Wilbur Otichilo visited the site to console the affected families.

The DPM said it was unfortunate for constructors to flout laid down regulations and lead to loss of lives.

The ministry of local government, he said has reviewed the building code which would be gazetted soon to ensure that all building constructed across the country meet the laid down regulations.

By laws to govern the construction industry, he said have also been formulated to ensure that all local authorities enforce them to curb substandard construction of buildings.

“We know that some of these local authorities do not have the capacity to develop these by laws that is why we have come up with uniform laws to be applied across the country,” said the DPM.

The new devolution law, he said provides for the establishment of disaster preparedness and management units which would be trained and equipped to handle disasters of any nature as the county governments take shape.

 

 

Government steps in to reduce the cost of fish feeds


KAKAMEGA        Saturday, September 17, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The government has procured feed pelleting machines for fish farmers across the country to reduce the cost of feeds and promote aquaculture.

Fisheries Secretary Prof. Charles Ngugi said the machines which shall be given to the farmers in clusters would enable them to use available materials to produce feeds for their fish.

Prof. Ngugi said the government was determined to reduce the cost of feeds which has dealt a major blow to the promotion of aquaculture since majority of the farmers cannot afford.

He attributed the high prices to lack of enough feed manufacturers in the country adding that the government was in talks with the millers to produce more feed for supply to farmers.

Speaking during a tour of fish ponds sponsored by the Economic Stimulus Projects (ESP) in Kakamega County, Prof. Ngugi said since the inception of the project which saw over 63, 000 ponds constructed farm fish production has gone up.

The production, he said shot from 1, 000 metric tonnes in 2009 to 9,000 metric tonnes in 2010. This year the ministry projects a production of 15, 000 metric tonnes.

He said this has reduced pressure on Lake Victoria and other inland water bodies adding that there was potential of producing up to 20, 000 metric tonnes.

The current production, he said was still low because the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommends capita consumption of fish per person at 8.5 kgs.

“We are still miles away because on average every Kenyan consumes 4kgs of fish annually,” said the fisheries secretary.

The ministry, he disclosed has launched an eat fish campaign to popularize fish as a delicacy across the country and ensure a ready market for farmers who have embraced fish farming as a business.

Joyce Makaka, an authenticated fingerlings producer in Lurambi said the project has been very profitable.

She added that is has enabled her to employ 15 youths who work on her fish farm. The youth group which has been trained on fish husbandry now constructs fish ponds and assists farmers harvest fish in Lurambi constituency.

Research launched to revive growth of traditional crops


KAKAMEGA       Saturday, September 17, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The government through the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Programme
(KAPAP) has allocated Sh. 24 million to scale up research and
production of traditional crops.
Under the programme dubbed vegetable value chain project, research
would be undertaken to revive growth of traditional vegetables,
indigenous mushrooms, cowpeas, pumpkins, French beans, night shade,
spider plant and amaranth.
Mt. Kenya University, the leading agent in the implementation of the
project has partnered with the University of Nairobi, Egerton
University, Chuka University College, Bondo University College, Kenya
Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDI) and the National
Museums of Kenya to undertake the project.
Mt. Kenya University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of research and
development Prof. John Huria Nderitu said so far seven centers in
Kilifi, Nyeri, Siaya, Embu, Butere, Homabay and Tharaka have been set
up to undertake research on production of quality seeds.
Prof. Nderitu said the aim of the project which targets mainly small
scale farmers is to bring back on the forefront traditional highly
nutritious indigenous vegetables whose production has nosedived over
the years.
Speaking during the official launch of the project at Bukura
Agricultural training college in Kakamega County, Prof. Nderitu said
through the project farmers would be assisted to find markets for
their produce both locally and internationally to boost their income.
He added that campaigns would be intensified across the country to
sensitize farmers on the need to revert to the traditional crops known
for their medicinal and nutritional value.
“We have made arrangements with big hotels across the country
guaranteeing farmers a direct market for the produce,” he said.
The universities undertaking the project, he said would engage
students in research on the seven crops to come up with technology for
effective propagation of the crops.
Prof. Florence Olubango of University of Nairobi College of
agriculture, plant science and veterinary services said the project
which runs for three years would enhance sharing of information
between the institutions of higher learning and farmers to boost
production.

Transport paralysed as police crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles


Kakamega

By Kakamegatimes correspondent

A major
transport chaos hit most parts of Western Province this morning after public
transport vehicles kept off the roads following a crackdown on defective
vehicles.

Senior Superintendent
Charles Kortok from Police Headquarters in Nairobi coordinated the exercise
that sought to establish the level of compliance with traffic rules and general
safety of the PSV vehicles.

Kenya
Revenue Authority officials and Transport Licensing Board officers joined a
team of inspectors in the exercise to authenticate the validity of documents
issued by them.

Frustration
was written all across the faces of stranded commuters, some taking their
children back to school after the week-long strike by teachers ended in the
weekend.

Lukia Auma,
a maize trader sat pensively on one of the sacks of maize she was to ferry to
Shianda Market in Mumias that is barely 15km from Kakamega pondering her next
move.

She said
matatu operators who managed to have their vehicles on the road refused to
carry passengers with luggage and the charges more than doubled.

“I have been
here since 8am and now they are asking us to pay Sh150 instead of the normal
Sh70,” she lamented adding that she could forfeit the journey altogether.

On the
Kakamega Eldoret Bus Park, Matatus were demanding Sh300 up from the normal
Sh250, arguing that there were no vehicles.

Riders were
making a kill from the situation even though most people were reluctant to use
their motorbikes because of the high prices they were asking for.

The main Bus
Park in Town was completely deserted. Mr Kortok said they nabbed 15 vehicles
including a bus in Kakamega and had impounded 20 others in Webuye by the time
we went to press.

Elsewhere,
riders protesting the state of the Lurambi-Navakholo Road demonstrated along
the roads in Kakamega demanding that the road be restored to a better
condition.

Tens of
riders rode to the PC’s office to petition him on the matter but were blocked
by Kakamega Police Boss Joseph Omija who told them that the demonstration was
illegal.

The riders
planted banana stumps on the road whose state they said was no better than that
of a farm.

Legal notice to restore sanity in the transport sector


KAKAMEGA

Sunday,Sep 11, 2011

By Chris Mahandara

Public transport operators flouting traffic rules have their days numbered as a legal notice filed at the Attorney-General’s Chamber awaits approval. The law is bound to ruffle over 400,000 riders and owners of saloon vehicles that operate as public service vehicles (PSV). The chairman of the sub-committee of enforcement of road safety rules in the National Road Safety Council Mr Joseph Ole Tito said the legislation will require all riders to have licenses, safety gadgets and desist from ferrying excess passengers. The riders will also be required, from the time the legislation is approved, to have their motorbikes well marked as PSVs to enable police enforce traffic rules effectively. While leading council members to a stakeholders’ meeting in Western Province to brainstorm on the best approach to deal with the carnage caused by riders on roads, Mr Ole Tito, also the traffic commandant, said a proper solution would be one that ensures the riders are not pushed out of business while ensuring that they observe rules. “Can we sit down and be open because today we want to come up with solutions,” he urged DCs and Police Commandants who attended the meeting. Ole Tito decried political patronage which he said had weakened the diligence of traffic enforcement officers. He said politicians, especially in local authorities, demanded the release of offenders being held by police claiming they were being victimized. The same politicians, he added, hired the operators for their political activities that exposed the latter to acts that led to breaking of traffic rules. “It is true the government zero-rated importation of the vehicles to create employment but unnecessary deaths have resulted from the same and it is about time we applied the law to avert this carnage,” he declared. The commandant said the council intends to conduct campaigns to sensitize the public on importance of observing rules since it was established that most people were ignorant of the law. Western PC Samuel Kilele who addressed the meeting said that despite holding meetings with riders severally, they continued to disregard the rules. “Operators want quick money while passengers want to save so they carry more to maximize on the opportunity,” said Kilele. He said a recent attempt by Mumias Constituency CDF Committee to train riders on traffic rules was not very successful as only eight out of 200 riders passed the test. The meeting was also attended by Transport Licensing Board officials, local authority officers and the representative of drivers and conductors Mr Samson Wainaina.

Respiratory infections increase


KAKAMEGA

Sunday,Sep 11, 2011

By Kakamegatimes correspondent

The number of outpatients treated for respiratory infections this cold season has sharply risen at Kakamega Provincial Hospital.
Statistics show that 1,882 more patients received treatment at the facility that admitted only 3,399 patients last season, causing a great concern among health practitioners.
Dr. Mike Ruto, speaking to Kakamegatimes on behalf of the medical superintendent, termed the phenomenon a threat to the public as the infections may easily lead to viral or bacterial infections.
Among the most common respiratory infections, according to Ruto, are Asthma, Pneumonia and Common cold that he said infected infants below the age of five whose immunity was still not developed. Others are tuberculosis and pharyngitis.
Among adults, Dr Ruto said exposure to diseases over time weakened their immune systems and thus predisposed them to respiratory infections. Adults aged 55 and over were most affected.
Ignorance equally contributed to the upsurge as it emerged that overcrowding in less ventilated places led to the rise. Patients also admitted they did not keep themselves warm most of the time.
The cold season begun in July and has remained unchanged to date with irregular pattern of showers characterizing the weather.
Asthma is an allergic condition that is characterized by wheezing and difficulty in breathing. It frequently attacks minors than adults and affects men more than women. It may be precipitated by respiratory infections, psychological factors such as anxiety and depression and allergy.
Pharyngitis and Pneumonia inflame both the pharynx and lungs respectively with the later affecting children more than adults. The symptoms of pneumonia include fever, coughing and chest pains.
Ruto advised the public to keep warm during the season and ensure that they stay in well ventilated places, even while traveling in public transport vehicles.

Crackdown on food joints launched


KAKAMEGA

Sunday, Sep 11, 2011

By Chris Mahandara

Kakamega District Public Health Officer has ordered a crackdown on food joints and butcheries that are operating illegally in town.

Mr Fred Amudavi, the DPHO, said the move was triggered by complaints his office received from members of the public on stale food that they bought.

Only yesterday public health officers seized ten kilograms of stale meat from two butcheries operating within the town.

The butcheries, he said, had valid licenses but lacked refrigeration facilities which could enable the meat stay fresh for consumption.

“We have served them with notices to comply with the set standards or have their licenses cancelled,” he told Kakamegatimes on phone.

The DPHO, however, addd that many people had opened eateries in town without seeking approval from his office. He said such businesses will be shut once his team has profiled all food kiosks.

Enhance surveillance to prevent infiltration of firearms, police told.


BUNGOMA
Sunday,Sep 11, 2011
By Chris Mahandara
Bungoma County’s strategic position along the Great North Road  transnational super highway makes it an easy target for proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the Catholic Justice Peace Commission executive director Albinus Muga said recently.
 
Speaking at a two day workshop organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung , Muga said the increase was also as a result of the county’s proximity to the porous Kenya- Uganda border posing a serious security threat to the third largest county in the country with a population of 1.6  people.
 
He said this had led to deterioration in security in Bungoma where armed thugs arbitrarily break into houses steal and kill residents with abandon, a situation that has overwhelmed the security personnel who are lean on the ground.
 
Muga stated that the small arms and light weapons find their way into the country through the porous Malaba, Lwakhakha, Chepkube and Busia  entry points along the border
 
The workshop that drew participants from across the county aimed at tackling national cohesion and devolution challenges and opportunities in the county.
 
Bungoma county is comprised of six constituencies,thus  Sirisia, Bumula, Kanduyi, Webuye, Mt Elgon and Kimilili and ten districts.
He said that there was need for the police to arrest the alarming situation and stem the escalating crime wave before it got out of hand.
 
Stakeholders at the workshop proposed that the government accord police officers appropriate training to equip them with skills needed to serve under the new constitutional dispensation besides employing more officers to manage the huge population.