LETTERS: SGR and interest cap are Uhuru’s legacy


The Jubilee regime deserves the bashing it receives from the Opposition and the public over its failed promises.

Top of these are runaway corruption, increasing and unsustainable unemployment, tribalism, primary school laptop scheme, skewed allocation of resources in regions, biased senior government appointments, hunger and food shortages, sabotage to devolution, schemes to destroy the media, civil society and NGOs and many other shortcomings.

But let us give credit where it is due.

The standard gauge railway (SGR) is quite a great idea that would most likely have been sabotaged in many other regimes, especially the Nyayo one.

Rumour has it that many business people of that era — and some who still thrive after undergoing camouflage or oiling some palms — wanted Kenya Railways to fail by all means to keep exploitative systems in place.

So, an innovation of SGR nature would get into a lot of resistance.

The second major Jubilee feat, which would also have been unlikely, is the capping of bank interest rates.

It failed to materialise during the Moi presidency and even the more positively viewed Kibaki reign.

Ours being an environment of strangling of competition and gangster casino-type economy, it is tough to even attempt some businesses.

Without high-level political connections, getting into and operating some businesses is near impossible.

That has been the problem of clearing and forwarding at the highly lucrative levels as well as long-haul transport, especially of containers.

Yet if you look at opportunities that will emerge with SGR, you find more businesses of different varieties absorbing more people.

The hospitality industry is one such that will do well.

Coming to banks, the lesser said the better.

I have studied and worked in the West, including in banks, and transacted with different parts of the world.

There is a whole world of difference on the behaviour of banks in developed compared to third world countries.

In the Third World, it seems their aim is to exploit the public to the bone.

What banks in Kenya have been doing is shylock and usury business.

That is why almost every political kingpin or potentate wanted — and have been wanting — to own a slice of a bank. It has been lucrative.

But the environment has been very hostile and banks have been part of the big problem.

It is even known that some rogue bank managers and directors would use the banking system to rip off the public.

No wonder saccos and chamas have lately become very popular.

President Kenyatta will be remembered for ignoring criminal enterprise lobbyists and ensuring we have the SGR and minimising exploitation by banks.

He is also likely to tame the emerging destruction by the gambling industry, having refused to assent to low taxation rates set by Parliament.

This is another business that will destroy Kenyan youth who ignorantly think that gambling is a form of employment.

I hope he will, with the same zeal, tame corruption and unemployment.

To lower cost of living, subsidise animal feeds

To bring down the high cost of living, the price of animal feeds should also be subsidised.

We saw yellow maize being offloaded from a freight ship recently.

I guess the price of yellow maize has not been subsidised because the cost of animal feeds is still very high.

For chicken feed, a 50kg bag of broiler starter crumbs retails at Sh3,500 and broiler finisher pellets at Sh3,200.

Yet a broiler raw chicken retails at Sh400 a kilogramme. We need stew to escort ugali down our throats.


NCIC should show us their worth this season

Politicians are well known to be the biggest propagators of hate and tribalism.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has on many occasions been blamed for being toothless and ineffective on its mandate.

The forthcoming General Election presents a perfect ground for it to prove critics wrong.

It’s time the Ole Kaparo-led agency showed their worth, during this politicking season, by cracking down on hatemongers.

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