The Nakuru County Commissioner (CC), Erastus Mbui has warned that security agencies were probing long distance truck drivers, allegedly ferrying passengers in and out of areas affected by travel ban announced by the government a week ago in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Mbui said the County Security Committee has started deeper scrutiny of cargo vehicles’ crew exempted from the ban when President Uhuru Kenyatta identified Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale as counties worst hit by the pandemic and ordered cessation of movement in and out of the devolved units be in place for 21 days.
The CC said the team would be mounting ‘surprise’ roadblocks at various spots in the region and that persons aboard cargo trucks would be required to produce identification documents whose details must match those on letters authorizing them to travel in the trucks.
Accompanied by Governor Lee Kinyanjui during the launch of the Nakuru Community Initiative for Covid-19 response, the County Commissioner faulted Kenyans for lack of discipline and disobeying a government order that’s for their own good by using illegal routes to move in and out of Nairobi.
He said security personnel had identified secret routes that connected Nairobi and Nyandarua which were being used by unscrupulous private motorists and boda boda cyclists to sneak people into Nakuru.
“It shouldn’t be about police arresting anyone or mounting roadblocks to stop people from moving around. It should be about people obeying these directives like avoiding crowded places, washing hands regularly and staying indoors,” Mbui said.
“This is meant to protect all of us from this disease. We are telling people to obey curfew and cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale to protect themselves and their loved ones,” he further added.
The Nakuru Community Initiative for Covid-19 response which brings on board the business community, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the Kenya Red Cross Society, the Hindu Council and a number of well-wishers will be tasked with mobilization of food stuffs and funds for feeding vulnerable members of the society.
Kinyanjui said surveillance and testing for Covid-19 had been intensified in areas with long distance truck parking bays such as Salgaa, Naivasha, Mai Mahiu and Kikopey, saying the devolved unit was discouraging the drivers from crowding in social places around the parking bays.
He said more county enforcement officers had been deployed to seal routes that have been used to sneak into Nakuru County.
Kinyanjui said his administration had set aside Sh.173 million for procurement of personal protective equipment, while 321 health workers were undergoing interviews and would be deployed to work in various health facilities soon.
He said the Sh.250 million food support kitty would incorporate both the vulnerable members of the society and those who had lost their jobs following closure of businesses due to outbreak and spread of the virus in the country.
He 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.
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 governor 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, NGOs 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 devolved unit, he said, had carried out a baseline survey in low income areas that would guide in distribution of sanitation facilities and food to alleviate suffering caused by the pandemic.
The governor warned that donors would not be allowed to give food, medical supplies and clothing directly to residents, as such donations should be channeled through the County Covid 19 Emergency Response Committee for orderly distribution to beneficiaries.
By Jane Ngugi