INJUSTICE TO TRANSPORTERS, RELATED BUSINESSES

Why CS James Macharia should be impeached

The petition by MP Mohamed Ali to impeach Macharia should be supported and passed unanimously

In Summary

• Among the reasons MP Ali cites for the impeachment include gross violation of Article 10 (1) (c) on national values and Article 73 on leadership and integrity.

• He also cites corruption allegations, where billions of shillings were lost under the Cabinet Secretary’s watch.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia
ON THE SPOT: Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia
Image: FILE

This week, Nyali MP Mohamed Ali is reported to have secured signatures from various legislators to support a petition calling for the impeachment of Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

In the Kiswahili worded petition, among the reasons Ali cites for the impeachment include gross violation of Article 10 (1) (c) on national values and Article 73 on leadership and integrity.

He also cites corruption allegations, where billions of shillings were lost under the Cabinet Secretary’s watch.

Being in a democratic country where we can share our opinions on public policy and practices, I feel obliged to share mine here.

Perhaps most Kenyans do not understand why Ali is after Macharia. As a matter of fact, the CS is in hot soup with almost half the country from Mombasa to Mlolongo.

This follows his ministry’s move to cripple the road transport sector in the country. At the core is the decision to forcefully require all goods coming in through the Mombasa Port be transported only via the standard gauge railway. This is openly introducing a monopoly in a liberated economy. As the CS, it would appear that instead of encouraging healthy business competition in the country, he is instead supporting unfair trade practices.

While it is understandable Kenya has a debt to pay China for the hundreds of billions used to construct the overpriced SGR, it is absolutely wrong for the CS to allow only a section of the population to pay the debt.

To deliberately impoverish millions of Kenyans along the Mombasa Road corridor from the coast town, through Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Makindu all the way to Mlolongo, is not only inhuman but also demeaning. It also plants  seeds of discord within communities that already feel neglected and sidelined by government. National debt burden is the responsibility of all Kenyans, not just a section of them.

The road transport not only supports truckers but also hundreds of truck companies that have other employees besides the drivers. It also affects spare parts shops, tyre shops, petrol stations and garages. There are also lodges along the road where the drivers sleep, small hotels and food vendors who feed the drivers. Not forgetting the youth who wash these tracks on a daily basis. All these people are affected as well as their dependants. How can a government be so heartless to unjustly deprive its people of a living in this manner?

What the transport sector and communities affected are asking for is simply open competition. No one is against the SGR. What they are asking for is to allow everyone compete for business. Let those who want to use SGR do so. At the same time, let those who want to use the road or air or even donkeys be allowed to do so.

This will improve services and lower costs. Even in countries with the most advanced rail networks, road transport is still in use and trucks are allowed to transport goods. Kenya is a free country. It is despicable that the Ministry of Transport is forcing business to be done in a specific way, which is not in favour of its own people but serving the interests of the Chinese.

The most recent excuse the CS gave to explain the decision to transport cargo via SGR is Covid-19 health regulations. This excuse is not only laughable but also shows the contempt the minister has for the sector and the people affected.

What this means is that during these hard times, the government chose to directly cut off the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans as an alleged strategy to tackle coronavirus. 

It means thousands of households have lost their livelihoods, which translate to increased poverty levels in the country. Many children will now lack school fees, proper medical care, descent clothing and most certainly food at the end of the day. This is unacceptable.

If our parliamentarians are truly representatives of the people, it is my opinion that the petition by Ali to impeach Macharia should be supported and passed unanimously.