Service delivery not a favour but right; continue after coronavirus

Nairobi residents use sanitiser spray booths installed in the central business district to keep coronavirus at bay, on April 19, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Reacting by donating money to one or two individuals shown by the media as struggling is not compassion but exposing oneself as an incompetent leader.
  • Covid-19 should teach us the importance of developing systems for posterity so that we are not made to run helter-skelter with pandemics.

One of the most bizarre things I have noticed in our towns and cities during the Covid-19 pandemic is men and women bedecked head to toe in PPE (personal protective equipment) fumigating our streets.

It is the type of image that takes getting used to in our country. Double-take moments. We have never seen this much zeal from our officials.

A lot of attention is now being paid to the same streets that have been left unattended to for years as its tributaries and arteries chocked in mounds of garbage.

It feels like an alien invasion. Either that or Hollywood is in town filming an African version of "Ghost Busters" the movie.

Who knew Kenya had specialist fumigators who could spray chemicals? Everybody is now working hard to evade death. Then I ask: why do we hate ourselves so much to live in dirty and insecure streets the rest of the time?

Our near-mortality with coronavirus got the country to dig deep to do what it should be doing as a matter of course.

When praise was being heaped on Machakos and Mombasa governors, Dr Alfred Mutua and Hassan Joho, respectively, I rolled my eyes with disgust. It was undeserved.

DUTY

It is their duty, and that of all our other leaders, to ensure systems work diligently all year round. Coming out to show compassion for Twitter or Facebook posts during a pandemic while little was done before is just campaigning.

Leaders are coming out to plaster over cracks of walls they never built. The amount of money being poured now to buy new hospital beds, ventilators and fumigators should have been spent much earlier to prepare hospitals adequately for emergencies, including pandemics, and keeping streets clean.

Suddenly, counties and, indeed, the national government, have money on tap to fund this and that project. Turkana set aside a whopping Sh480 million for Covid-19!

Mombasa released Sh200 million just to feed the poor and so much more for buying ventilators and stocking up hospitals.

In contrast, when I took my mother to Coast General Hospital last year with acute pneumonia, which required that she be put on a ventilator, it turned into a hair-pulling nightmare.

It was draining emotionally not knowing whether we could ever get through the queue. A queue for a life-saving ventilator? That is unthinkable and unacceptable.

The entire island, we were told, had just a handful of ventilators in both private and public hospitals. This is an area with a population of just over 1.2 million!

LEADERSHIP

Reacting by donating money to one or two individuals shown by the media as struggling is not compassion but exposing oneself as an incompetent leader.

Rushing to buy hand sanitisers for your people when you should have ensured clean water flows through the taps shows you have failed.

It should not take prompting to do what a leader is legally and ethically meant to do in the first place.

Our leaders should know they cannot fool all the people all the time and get away with it. With all the demand for educated leaders and rush for PhDs, it does not seem to sink into their minds that the posts they hold come with legal duty of care — in that, should the citizens’ expectations not be met, common sense avers that we seek justice.

But would we dare? Obviously not; not with our fear of repercussions. Many of the legal duties that are abandoned by our leaders are breaches of the law.

From failing to collect garbage to not providing the best possible security, water and healthcare, and even refusing to evacuate citizens stuck in foreign lands during an emergency, that is failure.

It is time we started to hold office bearers accountable for failing to carry out their duties diligently. Their failures are the suffering we witness daily in communities.

SERVICE DELIVERY

We are yapping about handwashing and people staying home, but how many Kenyans have somewhere to call home, let alone find clean water?

Covid-19 should teach us the importance of developing systems for posterity so that we are not made to run helter-skelter, playing catch-up with pandemics and natural disasters that seem not too far off.

Everywhere you look, there is either flooding, a locust invasion or deadly diseases beguiling the county.

Most importantly, we must learn to love our communities as leaders by taking our roles seriously. If not, we, the people, should be expected to challenge you legally without roadblocks of armed police.

Prosperous communities are made of good leaders as much as the citizens. After all, the leader would be going back to the very community after their term and, hopefully, to the streets they kept clean and functioning hospitals they stocked up.

As the coronavirus has shown our leaders, there is nowhere to run abroad for medical care as healthcare systems globally are clogged.

Covid-19 has proved to be an equaliser, but so do other diseases. Having the best healthcare and clean streets is paramount.

People’s lives, including yours, Mkubwa, are dependent on service delivery!

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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