We often pay more because of dishonesty
Right now everybody is wondering when the political tension in this country will simmer. It has taken like forever for us to get it over and done with! However, it doesn’t seem to go away. We are back to where we were last year, “IEBC Must Go!”
Back then, the commission was led by Isaac Hassan. The chairperson is currently Mr. Chabukati, and yet, after pushing for reforms late last year, the August 8 polls were nevertheless rigged. What could be the problem; is it the candidates, the commission or the system?
Come to think of it; we always pay more for virtually everything. Our elections are the most expensive in the East African region, if not the continent, yet we are not the most populous nation and our elections are not the best either. Our SGR is the most expensive in the region, but it is neither the longest nor the best!
Polls and Money
For the August 8, polls, our electoral agency paid the Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company Sh2.5 billion tender to print ballot papers. This figure is more than twice the price paid by our closest neighbors Tanzania and Uganda, which both had their elections in the recent past.
While we spent an average of slightly over Sh20 per piece, our neighbors paid somewhat less than Kshs. 9. 50. However, the August 8 price is lower than the $3 billion the Isaac Hassan led commission paid to the British Printing firm Smith & Ouzman for the 2013 polls. The tender to the British printer later mutated into the infamous Chickengate Scandal, and the company’s directors are since serving their jail terms in the UK. Back at home, the people who implicated in the scandal are free citizen, save for the former Commission CEO Mr. Oswago who is facing charges.
The IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba, however, downplayed the price difference. In an interview with Capital FM radio, he said the country was getting value for its money.
“If you look at the type of ballot papers that we have, it’s closer almost to our currency. Also, the price being determined by the size; the size being determined by the number of candidates. So the prices will vary. You cannot just say that we are paying much more than other countries. Kenya is not Tanzania. Kenya is not Uganda, “he explained.
The October rerun surrounded by uncertainties has already cost us close to Shs. 12 billion. The information is still scanty, but we understand that that the French firm offering IT Services OT Mopho has already pocketed Shs.2.5 billion.
Are you are still wondering why the IEBC indicted personnel won’t step aside in the sight of glaring inefficiency? It is all about money! The commission controls a lot of money, and there is interest from all quarters. Chiloba would rather die than leave that office. At least not now that he still enjoys the government’s unreserved support!
The New Currency
Our country lost close to Shs. 2.5 billion in a currency printing fiasco. The Bonny Khalwale led Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that investigated the multi-billion shillings scandal discovered that the Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u opted for the higher rates that the government used to pay in 2002.
As we speak, the printing of a new-look currency in line with the constitutional requirement, according to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), is set to cost the country Sh18 billion. The current CBK Governor Peter Njoroge said the blueprints are already available.
The Constitution rejects the use of images of the country’s presidents or images of any individuals on currency. Article 231(4) of the constitution states that notes and coins issued by the CBK may bear images that depict of symbolizing an aspect of Kenya but shall not bear any individual’s portrait
The demonetization was expected to begin last month, but the CBK had to shelve the idea because of the prolonged electioneering period.
“It is not advisable to issue new currencies towards an election. It can cause disruption and poor acceptance of the new currency,” alluded Dr. Njoroge.
There has been a feeling that some people have naturally been misled to think this country is theirs while others are guests. Therefore, the move which now requires notes and coins to only bear images that depict or symbolize an aspect of Kenya bores well with communities whose sons or daughters have never ascended to the presidency.
But back to our story, in Kenya, every project has always come at an extra cost. It is only a matter of time before we discover a scandal in the printing of the new currency.
The most expensive second tire SGR
Kenya paid $3.8 billion (Sh380.4 billion) for SGR with diesel-powered locomotives upgradable into electric in future. Besides, the government spent Sh11.7 billion on land acquisition. Our SGR is slightly over 470 kilometers long. The diesel-powered engine speeds are 120 km/hr for passenger train and 80 km/h for freight.
At the cost of $3.4 billion, Ethiopia built an electric SGR. The 750 km Ethiopia-Djibouti line was unveiled in Oct 2016. It now links Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port city of Djibouti. The train travels at 120 km/hr, cutting down the time taken between the two points from three days by road to about 12 hours.
Tanzania has just launched its electric railway project, designed to support a maximum speed of 160km per hour for passenger trains and 120km per hour for freight. The SGR is expected to be operational in about 30 months. The project will cost $1.92 billion, which is almost half the price our country paid for the second tire SGR. The 422-kilometre line, covering the distance from Morogoro to Makutupora, both in central Tanzania, is tipped to transport 17 million tonnes of cargo each year.
There are many other cases out there; you are just yet to identify them. But we Kenyans always pay more for everything. And it is a straightforward reason, corruption!
In my opinion, we are the most dishonest people, perhaps in Africa, if not world over. We pretend to be religious, but when it comes to politics, we repudiate to our ethnical backgrounds. Though we won’t openly say it, most of us believe, an evil committed by our tribesman is no evil if it benefits my tribe. The sooner we change this narrative, the sooner we’ll start to live in harmony and develop our nation.