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Friday, July 20, 2007

Sudden Smoking And Plastic Ban Are Clear Proof That This Government Is Disorganized...

...And It Does Not Care For The Common Man Nor Understand Him

The reason why Kenya is in a mess became abundantly clear last week when several things happened at the same time.

The government had already increased taxes on the plastic paper bags that have become a nuisance to our environment during Kimunya's latest budget speech in June. The new excise duty is however supposed to become applicable in October thus jacking up the prices of virtually every consumer product that you can think of (but that is a story for another day). But before consumers and manufacturers of the nuisance products that employ and support hundreds of thousands of Kenyan across the nation could recover, the Nairobi City Council banned the plastic bags in the city and its' environs.

But before Kenyans could say "what?" smoking too was suddenly banned in the CBD and limited smoker’s zones designated within the city. There has even been pressure on the Mombasa City Council to implement the same sudden draconian directives dubbed bylaws.

While it is important for us to preserve our environment and it cannot be denied that both moves are good in the long term, the only problem is that nobody has sat down to calculate the impact of the two directives.

At least tens of thousands of Kenyans eke out a living from plastic paper bags. What are they doing for food currently? At least one major factory employing hundreds of Kenyan directly and tens of thousands indirectly has been shut down this week. Apart from the huge numbers joining the jobless, there is the issue of investors. Which investor will think of investing in a country where decisions that can put them out of business are made so suddenly and with little or no consultation?

We also know that many other petty traders rely heavily on cigarette sales for survival. The smoking ban has definitely impacted cigarette sales in a very big way. Has anybody though about what they may no be going through?

Alas, this is the “thorax way” in which the country is run and an MP earning Kshs 850,000 a month and other well-paid decision makers, cannot picture what may be happening to ordinary Kenyans as a result of the sudden decision. Would it not have been good to give everybody a grace period of say one month at the very least, so that they look for alternatives?

In these matters timing is everything and there would not have been a worse time to implement the bans and why at the same time? Is the government trying to put out the maximum number of people out of a job suddenly?

Then what angers me even more is the fact that those darling preferred presidential candidates whose praises are sung here at the least excuse have not said anything. Instead they are talking about minimum reforms and the issue of more constituencies. Not a single one of them has said anything about the impact of what has been done. Why should they care, in a few days time they will be collecting their hefty cheques for doing nothing for the people. This is why I want to start a campaign to vote the whole lot out. And I mean each and every one of them


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