The Sh10 billion government manual work-for-pay programme popularly known as Kazi Mtaani has helped bring down cases of crime in Athi River Sub-county, a local Government administrator said.
Makadara Assistant Chief, Martin Nzomo, told KNA the programme which begun in June last year has transformed the youths of the area into law-abiding citizens earning a decent wage that can use to improve their lives.
Nzomo has also said the programme has turned many erstwhile petty crimes into good ambassadors who are currently helping in improving the image of the area through taking part in the community cleanup projects.
“When we started this project last year, there was a lot of unemployment and crime among the youth which was worsened by Covid-19. Some have saved money and paid fees for a whole semester and others have started their own businesses and this has helped immensely in the reduction of crime levels in this area,” he said.
The Chief added that the job keeps the youth busy and well-disciplined most of the time and thus saves them the temptation of engaging in antisocial activities including alcoholism and substance abuse.
The cohorts are also given motivation sessions every morning on how to change their lives for the better despite their varied attitude to the work.
“Most who have gone to school feel uncomfortable cleaning the drainage and collecting garbage and sometimes feel out of place since they have degrees and diplomas from reputable colleges. However, we try to speak to such people and convince them to take it positively,” he added.
For 21-year-old Lukas Kilonzo, the project has not only helped him pay his bills but also start a small business selling eggs after dropping out from Chuka University while in the second year.
He said Covid-19 complicated matters, forcing him to take the responsibility of assisting his family with the little, he got from his odd jobs.
Kilonzo now terms the Kazi Mtaani a real game-changer, saying it has given hope for better days and also opened a window of opportunity in assisting his poor parents at home.
Juliet Kioko 22-year-old studied Social work and Community Development and has just cleared college.
She says her father and friends discouraged her from doing the job telling her it was too menial.
She was, however, resolute in her decision and by good luck was assigned the position of supervisor.
Today, Kioko has opened a shoe business in Mlolongo, where she displays her wares behind the busy flyover every evening from 4 pm.
“Right now, my father is very proud of me and supports me fully in the decision I took. My friends at first despised this job but right now many are in regret and wish they had joined too. I would advise the youth not to be too selective when looking for jobs especially at these time employment opportunities are becoming a challenge,” advises Ms Kioko who adds she intends to enroll in a degree course in September this year.
The daily rate for a cohort is Sh 455 while a supervisor gets Sh 505 payable after every 11 days in a month.
The duties include undertaking of street cleaning, fumigation, and disinfection, garbage collection, bush clearance and unblocking of drainage systems.
So far, about 7,000 youths from Machakos County have benefited from the programme which has benefitted at least 300,000 countrywide.
The programme was officially launched in Machakos on July 13 by the government and is expected to benefit residents of Athi River, Machakos, Matungulu and Kangundo Sub-counties.
By Ann Kangero