WHAT PRIORITY?

The fallacy of housing scheme and Huduma Namba

There is need to have a critical look at some of these projects and to question the rationale, processes, implementation and logic behind them

In Summary

• There is ample evidence around for all to see that the housing scheme is not a priority, at least not at the moment.

• What is the logic, if any, of sinking billions of shillings into phantom schemes that are not of priority or urgency to the Kenyan population?

A file photo of a housing project in West Park, Nairobi
A file photo of a housing project in West Park, Nairobi
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

The Jubilee administration, which has metamorphosed into a “handshake government”, recently launched a number of projects, among them the affordable housing scheme, new police reforms/uniforms, and the Huduma Namba.

In its first term, it had the school laptops-cum-tablets, Galana Kulalu, and the SGR, just to mention a few.

There is a need to have a critical look at some of these projects and to question the rationale, processes, implementation and logic and or fallacious arguments behind the said programmes.

 

There has been public outcry following revelations that a lottery system will be applied to determine who will be eligible to own or be allocated a house in the housing programme.

The government intends to compulsorily levy and or deduct 1.5 per cent of employees’ basic salaries, while employers are required to pay an equal amount to match their employees’ contributions every month payable to KRA.

The idea we are told is for the government to construct 500,000 houses in the next three years against the three million salaried employees.

 

It remains unknown what informed this housing concept and there exists no clear blueprint, policy or legal framework governing this scheme to date.

The housing levy amounts to another tax burden on the already overburdened Kenyans. Kenyans have not been told why who, where and how the housing scheme is a priority, and what this implementation process shall be administered.

There is ample evidence around for all to see that the housing scheme is not a priority, at least not at the moment.

It is being pushed down the throats of Kenyans at a time when the country is in the midst of urgent issues that require urgent attention.

 

These include food insecurity, grand and ran away corruption, insecurity, poor healthcare, confusion and turbulence in the education sector over the implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum, and the collapse of the sugar and maize sector in both Western and the Rift Valley regions.

The government has got its priorities wrong. It is not its business to build houses for its citizens, as a priority project. On the contrary, the government should provide security, infrastructure, education, food, administration of justice, healthcare and public services as a matter of priority.

What is the logic, if any, of sinking billions of shillings into phantom schemes that are not of priority or urgency to a population that is literally dying under the weight of debts, taxes, insecurity, corruption, hunger and starvation and unemployment, among other ills?

We have witnessed prolonged strikes in the health sector over salaries and importation of doctors. These issues remain unresolved. Lecturers in public universities have suffered the same fate and there is no indication yet that the problems or industrial disputes in these sectors have been conclusively addressed.

Similarly, there is no point in spending billions of taxpayers money to buy police new uniforms. The police housing scheme launched a couple of years ago remains unfulfilled. The majority of officers in many police stations across the country continue to live in deplorable conditions, some in mabati tin roof shanties or structures not worth of being referred to as houses.

At the same time, the police continue to suffer neglect, are ill-equipped, lack necessary facilities to undertake their work and remain poorly remunerated.

Their welfare is not properly addressed. Providing them with new uniforms does not add any value to the important task of providing and guaranteeing security to the citizens. We are being bulldozed into registering for Huduma Namba.

What is this animal by the way? What is it for? Why now? These questions remain unanswered.

 

The Judiciary, the police, and the DPP remain underfunded to enable them to effectively undertake their work. These institutions have inadequate resources to build, enhance and retain human resource and basic infrastructure to deliver as expected.

It is laughable to keep lambasting and condemning the DCI, the DPP or the Chief Justice? Judiciary over delayed or prolonged court cases or prosecutions when funds otherwise to be applied towards building their capacity are directed or misappropriated to phantom projects.

The government should recruit, train and off good remuneration to higher qualified professionals in these departments as a matter of urgency

. It should also provide funds to build infrastructure such as courts, employ more competent judges and magistrates, state counsels, and other necessary personnel. to empower them to deliver in the fight against corruption, terrorism among other ills affecting the society.

Like Wamala’s wife TINKA said in the 1972 play, The Burdens, by John Ruganda, I say that all the government projects aforesaid are as wet as a sponge and carry the oduor of illicit intimacy.

The writer is an Advocate and secretary general, Jubilee Peoples Party of Kenya

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