Machakos county governor Dr. Alfred Mutua has called for enhanced efforts to help cushion families ravaged by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at his office Monday, while receiving food and non-food items from the business community, Dr. Mutua said the country should not wait until people die due to hunger before springing into action to assist.
He noted that with thousands of people having lost their livelihoods due to closure of premises where they previously used to earn their living, it would also be prudent for landlords to be considerate by allowing an extended payment period for rent until the current situation in the country stabilizes.
“We beseech landlords to accept the fact that we are living in extraordinary times, owing to the pandemic which is right here with us. Many of the tenants have lost their earnings after the places they used to earn a living were closed down leaving them with no formal source of income. It would therefore be sensible for such people to be given a lee way to enable them pay their rent bit by bit until such a time when things will come back to normal,” he urged.
The governor says unlike developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand and USA which have robust social safety nets for their citizens, Kenya is ill-equipped to assist each and every family that has been affected by the current economic downturn being experienced in the country due to reduced economic activity.
The companies that gave food items during the event included Mombasa Cement which donated 25 tonnes of maize flour and Shelter Afrique, which gave assorted food items enough to feed at least 2,000 households.
The county also received 1,000 face masks from the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA) and 100 water tanks and jerry cans from Poa Tank, while SBM Bank gave a Sh1 million cheque. Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation also donated alcohol based sanitizers worth Sh 1 million.
While thanking the donors for their kind gesture, Dr. Mutu said the Covid-19 pandemic had taught countries on the need to invest in local innovations to cushion them in hard times instead of depending on foreign aid.
“For many years, we have had a thirst for importing goods and services, such that our innovation spirit and industrialization have been subdued. This is the time to support manufacturing, from cottage industries to mega factories. I urge both levels of government to reduce bureaucracy and to streamline taxation by ensuring that we promote exports of finished goods, grow wealth and facilitate employment,” he added.
The governor said this move will further ensure there was a wider tax base for the government revenues and ultimately translate to more money in the people’s pockets.
Last month, the county government of Machakos set up a massive temporary screening and isolation center for Covid-19 at the 20,000- seater Kenyatta stadium.
While inaugurating the facility, Dr. Mutua announced that those found to be positive will be isolated and treated for mild and non-critical conditions as they await further treatment.
The governor explained that the decision to open the temporary shelter would also relieve the pressure on the Machakos Level 5 as both a treatment and isolation center.
By Samuel Maina