Until the government begins planning beyond elections; public transport won’t be the only sector on its deathbed.

Posted by on 14th November 2018

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We have become a walking nation, literally! The country has been hit by a transport crisis following the crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles by the Police. All the major cities from Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu are continuing to lose millions in the ongoing crackdown as people waste hours walking to work while others keep away completely.

Yet one wonders why we are having this crisis in the first place. As has already been noted on this blog before; the problem with this country is the inability to build strong institutions. What we have instead are strongmen who run whatever sectors they’re in charge of with an iron fist – enforcing unpopular rules and streamlining the sector – only for everything to collapse when they vacate office.

The ongoing crackdown on faulty vehicles and unprofessional drivers and touts has been dubbed Michuki rules, after the late Minister, John Michuki, who fast brought sanity in the sector as transport minister only for the gains to be reversed shortly after he left the ministry.

We can deductively reason that the sectors or ministries which appear to be underperforming is because they’ve not had a strong man; suffice to conclude that, this efforts will be reversed the moment CS Matiangi leaves office the same way they did when Michuki left.

At the center of this phenomenon is the lack of planning or the primitive planning the government has been engaging in since the advent of multiparty politics. Every activity the government undertakes appears to be geared towards ensuring the head of the Executive recaptures his seat in the next elections thereby undermining any serious planning beyond the five or 10 years.

Worse still is that the next government that takes over after the 10years comes with its own plans; completely abandoning efforts by the previous government leading to unnecessary waste in the form of incomplete projects that only served to drain taxpayers.

Only President Kibaki attempted to break this cycle with the Vision 2030 economic blueprint that went beyond the elections. Unfortunately the plan has since been discarded with the government of the day cherry-picking areas it wants to implement and even then, projects picked like the SGR are inflated from the original plan and routes to satisfy individual interests rather than the country.

It doesn’t help that our Members of Parliament who could’ve helped reign in on this absurdity are themselves operating within the same mentality. There’s little proof our MPs take the budget making process seriously – either that or they need further training on how to interrogate the process. Otherwise why would the passage of the Finance Bill 2018 become so dramatic?

Also, it’s during the budget making process that MPs can tell whether the government is in sync with the Vision2030 or not and ask relevant questions that can ensure the country budgets around a vision that goes beyond an election cycle.

Despite the brief instability we experience during electioneering periods, the country is generally very peaceful that it’s shameful we’re unable to capitalize on that environment and industrialize ourselves. Instead we spend five years on the campaign trail waiting for the next election.

Recently, the Deputy President appeared to place the blame on the lack of jobs on the Arts and Humanities courses suggesting that Science Technology and Mathematics courses should be prioritized. Yet it’s the government that has failed to think long term about Education coming up with knee-jerk ideas that are completely out of touch with the reality in the country like the failed Laptop project.

We are so focused on short term gratification that our MPs have more than once drafted laws to impress or deal with an individual at the expense of the nation. To that end, only this week National Assembly was forced to recommit the Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 after a public criticism by the Health practitioners.

The Bill not only sought to remove Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) representation from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board but also seeks to abolish quality control systems with reference to registered medicine. This was done without consulting the pharmacists whom this law was going to affected.

It’s also this lack of long term thinking that’s seen the government opt to draw a red line a long Thika Super Highway claiming it will be dedicated to the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT). Another knee-jerk reaction. The examples of the government’s lack of proper deliberate planning are too many to count.

We must now challenge MPs to take an active role in the budgeting process with a view to see that the government is not merely engaging in short term knee-jerk activities and challenge the Executive arm to think beyond the election cycle even as they themselves strive to change from the same mentality.

 

 

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