The Nakuru County Government has launched a Sh.250 million food support programme kitty for families whose breadwinners have lost their employment due to adverse economic effects posed by spread of coronavirus in the region.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said more than 70,000 jobs had been lost in Naivasha Sub-County following closure of horticultural firms after exports of flowers, fruits and vegetables were halted and international flights suspended in the wake of the pandemic.
Addressing a press conference after the County Disaster Management Committee meeting on Covid-19 preparedness, the governor expressed concern that a further 50,000 people in Njoro, Subukia and Rongai Sub-Counties who directly depended on export of cut flowers and agricultural produce had lost their source of incomes.
The County boss revealed that over 4, 000 employees working in the Tourism and Hospitality Sector in Nakuru had been rendered jobless following closure of hotels and restricted travel regulations by key countries where visitors to tourist attraction sites originated from.
He said his administration was in talks with the Private Sector, individuals, Nongovernmental Organizations and humanitarian agencies to increase the kitty, which he said was targeting vulnerable members of the society especially those from low income areas.
Kinyanjui said it was impossible to enforce Ministry of Health’s regulations and the curfew that were intended to curb spread of the virus if a section of the public did not have access to proper food and nutrition.
The Governor who was accompanied by County Commissioner (CC), Erastus Mbui Mwenda said his administration was working with the National government to enhance the number of people isolation centres could hold.
He said the devolved unit would ensure professional counseling services were offered to patients who tested positive for coronavirus and those held at isolation wards and quarantine centres countrywide.
The governor conceded that the disease which has afflicted over half a million people and killed more than 24,000 worldwide had exposed medical staff, infected individuals, suspected persons and their families to anxiety, depression and stress.
Kinyanjui stressed that ordinary Kenyans also needed counseling as they were also undergoing various levels of stress and depression due to misinformation, fears and misleading myths surrounding Covid-19.
He undertook to ensure that Isolation Centers and quarantine units have the necessary amenities, equipment and provisions to ensure patients and those suspected to have contracted the disease were not held under harsh conditions.
The governor said he was working with his counterparts from Nairobi, Kajiado, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi where coronavirus cases had been confirmed to ensure screening of persons before they entered Nakuru.
He said Nakuru was also on high alert to monitor and screen visitors from Western parts of the Country which neighbour several East African Countries.
Mwenda observed that the Nakuru County Emergency Response Committee had enforced stringent measures with far economic implications to keep coronavirus on a check, calling on the residents to observe the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The committee he said had slapped a ban on boda boda and tuk tuk from operating within the town.
“We must observe social distancing if we are to protect wananchi from getting infected. Boda boda riders are at risk of being infected by a sick passenger and vice versa and thereafter infecting hundreds,” he said.
“There is no way we can keep the required social distance while riding on boda bodas where the separation between the rider and passenger is nonexistent,” noted the administrator.
Further, the committee banned groupings of more than three people at bus stops and directed that only drivers and conductors would be allowed and they must sit in their respective vehicles as they wait for passengers to board.
Other measures included sanitizing all markets and banning of market days to reduce movement from one town to another.
Mbui called upon all Nakuru residents above the age of 65 years old to restrict movement, stay at home and avoid mixing with young people and children – especially those who had just migrated from the cities and towns.
The New bus terminuses have been established at Ziwani grounds, Railway grounds opposite motor vehicle inspection unit, County Mortuary area and Kunste Hotel.
Traders from the Nakuru main market have been redistributed to Afraha Stadium, Rhonda grounds and Githima Estate, while newly constructed markets have been opened at Mawanga, Kiratina and Teacher’s Estates.
In Naivasha, the wholesale market has been moved to Site area while all public service vehicles would operate from Naivasha Stadium.
The CC announced that all fresh fruit and vegetable traders in Gilgil Sub-County have been moved to the main market, while all mitumba sellers would trade their wares from Slaughter House grounds. All matatu operators have been ordered to a new stage.
In Molo, all wholesale traders had been moved to the Molo Social Hall, while matatus would now pick and drop passengers at Molo Stadium.
Mbui called on long distance truck drivers to comply with safe social distancing rule, sanitize regularly and avoid unnecessary stopovers along the way.
“The committee has ensured that amenities such as toilets, clean water, security, lighting, solid waste management and grading and leveling for new sites where necessary is provided,” he added.
By Anne Mwale