The Ford Kenya Party Leader, Moses Wetangula on Sunday asked the government to suspend some of its flagship projects and allocate more funds to fight the deadly coronavirus.
Speaking at the Malindi Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) Cathedral in Malindi Town, Wetangula, who is also the Senator for Bungoma County, told the government to divert part of development funds meant for flagship projects to address the pandemic.
“Roads and the Standard Gauge Railway projects can wait. The government should divert some of the monies it is using for these projects to protect Kenyans from the COVD-19,” he said.
He said the disease had the potential of causing an economic lockdown and urged the government to cushion industries and other employers by giving them incentives to retain their workers instead of laying them off due to low productivity.
“I challenge President Uhuru Kenyatta, to emulate former US President Barack Obama, who cushioned industries during his country’s economic crisis by giving them money and other incentives to stay afloat,” he said.
He said the tourism sector in the Coast region had already started experiencing turbulence following the ban on flights from Northern Italy and asked the government to intervene and help hotels so that they do not have to lay off workers.
“Last night I slept at a luxurious hotel here in Malindi, which had only five guests; myself, another MP and three foreigners. This shows that hotels have started feeling the heat of the deadly pandemic and it is likely that many people will lose jobs,” he said.
He said if the hotels require Sh.2 to 3million to pay salaries for workers for the next few months, they should be given that money by the government to ensure employees do not lose their jobs.
On March 12, the Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala, announced that the Government had set aside Sh. 500 million to address coronavirus issue.
At the same time, Wentangula urged Kenyans to stop spreading rumours about the disease through social media, noting that some idle youths had become busy spreading unverified information about the virus.
“I urge Kenyans not to use the social media to create unnecessary alarm, fear and panic about the virus, it’s not killing people as Ebola used to,” he said.
The Galole Member of Parliament, Said Buya Hiribae, alias ‘Said Posta’ urged the government to provide free hand sanitizers in public places and to citizens in poor communities to protect them from contracting the disease.
“The cost of hand sanitizers may be beyond the reach of the ordinary Kenyan who is struggling to put food on his table. I urge the government to provide free hand sanitizers in public places in order to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
He told religious faithful to pray seriously for God’s intervene to stop the spread of the disease.
During the Sunday service, Wentangula donated Sh.150,000, while Hiribae gave Sh.50,000 towards the church’s development project.
Also present was Ford Kenya Chairman, Joel Ruhu and several MCAs elected on a Ford Kenya party ticket.
By Emmanuel Masha