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VIDEO: Amb Githae denies corruption allegations in ID, Passport issuance exercise

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Kenya’s ambassador to the US, Robinson Njeru Githae, has denied claims that his office is involved in corrupt practices in regard to the ongoing inter-state ID issuance drive.

Speaking to Kenya Satellite News Network Saturday, the envoy rubbished reports that the embassy was colluding with some unscrupulous Kenyans to fleece their compatriots “by charging exorbitant fees for a consular service which should cost much less.”

Githae was responding to a post which was widely circulated on social media platforms over the weekend, and trended all day on Saturday, alleging that he was abetting graft.

Under the heading; “Exporting Corruption Abroad,” the anonymous post alleges that through his handlers, Githae was charging $150 (about Ksh 15,000) instead of the official fee of  $45 (about Ksh 4,500) for the issuance of the all important document.

The writer claims that Kenyans living in Kansas City are required to raise at least Ksh 1.6M for the embassy staff to travel to the city for the drive slated for Oct 6th and 7th this year, while at the same time insinuating that a similar exercise carried out in Atlanta recently was mired in corruption.

The post generated heated debates on several social media platforms Saturday.




Mr David Ochwangi, the co-founder and President Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations, Inc. is one of the disillusioned Kenyans and says there is well orchestrated scheme to fleece Kenyans.

The post that was trending on Saturday. PHOTO/SCREEN GRAB

But the envoy says there is nothing sinister about the amount of money charged, adding that the embassy would  continue partnering with other entities to take services closer to Kenyans in various US cities.

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“The Embassy does not have sufficient or adequate funds to send its staff out foe these registration exercises to all the major towns and cities in USA. There is no country with unlimited resources including USA and Kenya was no exception,” he told this reporter.

“USA is a vast country which is almost like a whole continent and it costs about $700-800 per person (sic) to come to DC to register for an ID and this huge cost has been a discouragement to the diaspora. In addition there is a large number of diaspora who cannot travel to DC or even anywhere else as they lack travel papers. It is our duty and responsibility to assist and help this group of Kenyan diaspora,” he added.





And speaking in Atlanta during the annual Kenyan Professors and Scholars Association  (KESSA) conference on Saturday, Githae said he would continue supporting the Kenyan Parents in USA  organization which partnered  and collaborated with the Embassy for the recently concluded registration drive.

“It was a win- win situation for all because the Parents would save about $ 700- 750 dollars which they would have otherwise spent to travel to DC for ID registration while those without travel papers need not travel outside their city or town while the Embassy would fulfill its mandate even under inadequate or insufficient budget circumstances,” said the envoy.

“An ID registration exercise outside DC costs about $ 10,000 as the Embassy has to cater for about 7-8 officers for 4 days with air tickets, accommodation, food, local transport, registration materials, out of pocket expenses and other allowances,” he added.

He said even as the Embassy awaits for the National Treasury to provide adequate or sufficient funds for diaspora ID registration exercise, the exercise will continue.

“If the diaspora cannot afford, for whatever reason, to come to Washington DC to register for the documents, the Embassy will go to where the Kenyan diaspora lives,” he states in a post on the Embassy website.

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He requested those cities and towns that were ready for this exercise to get in touch with the Embassy as the alternative was for the diaspora to travel to DC for ID registration which is done on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm.

“ I want to be known as the envoy who made KQ direct flights between USA and Kenya a reality and also registered the Kenyan diaspora with national IDs,”  he adds.

Elsewhere, the President of Kenyan Parents in USA Association, Isaac Kinungi, has said he will continue collaborating with the embassy to “help our people.”

“We will continue charging for the services as we are not forcing anybody. One has a choice to book a flight to DC with 75 dollars that we are charging (if that aircraft is in the market),’ he said in a statement.

“On explaining how we can account for money collected as a non profit organization, I would like to say that we are not under any obligation to explain to the mumbo jumbo jargon which is being circulated,” he added.

Atlanta-based Timothy Ndegwa, the CEO of MyKenyanlink – an online goods and services promotional firm – says the Atlanta event was a great success. “So many Kenyans now have national IDs thanks to the event… People came from as far as North Carolina. The need is there.”

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He however says the government should find ways of catering for the embassy personnel. “I think the government should put funds aside to take care of the embassy staff when they travel to offer such services,” he says.

Muthoni Eva of Missouri opines that the embassy should fund the exercises fully. In an Instagram post she says:  “Those of us carrying out transactions in Kenya know that we pay inflated taxes and the embassy should not promote double jeopardy. “We used to only pay the official fee during Ogego and Odembo’s time. What really has changed? Give us a break.”

Maggie Marikah Kwabena wrote on Facebook: If it costs $45 dollars and he is charging $150 did he explain the extra charges? It is not Rocket Science. It is simple math.

“We know how much a Ticket from DC to Kansas or Texas costs. We also know how much hotels cost. These people have a salary and the Embassy has a budget. They are in the US to serve Kenyans. That is their Job. Acheni za ovyo! ” she added.




“Enemies of development who are always so negative in their myopic view,” wrote Dorcas Omwenga on Twitter. “First of all, why is the writer of the said Kansas Tribune article anonymous? These are the same people who recently spread rumors that the ambassador had died in a road accident in Florida. The devil is real.”

 

 

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Business

Trouble for Ex-MP Mustafa Idd who works with wife at State agency

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Former Kilifi South MP Salim Mustafa Idd could be kicked out of the Coast Water Works Development Agency board over allegations of nepotism.

This is after a civil society group on Wednesday filed a case seeking for the revocation of his appointment over conflict of interest in the management of the State agency.

According to the petition filed by the Commission for Human Rights and Justice, Mr Idd, who is the current chairman of the water agency, is serving in the same board with his wife Amina Mnyazi.

The lobby group says that this arrangement breaches Section 8, 9 and 10 of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act that deals with public appointments.

BREACHES OF LAW

Also, the petitioner says that the appointment, where the two are serving in the same board, breaches Section 19 of the Leadership and Integrity Act, Section 146 of the Companies Act, and Section 66 of the Water Act.

Through its executive director Julius Ogogoh, the civil society group says in a matter filed under a certificate of agency that the two cannot be allowed to serve on the same board due to conflict of interest.

“In the public domain, a man and his wife cannot preside over the same public and State agency with the same mandate without the real likelihood of conflict of interest,” says the petitioner.

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Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi were appointed as chairman and member of the board respectively by the Ministry of Water in February 2019 to serve for a period of three years.

HUSBAND AND WIFE

But during the term of the appointment and service, the petitioner says the two contracted a marriage and are now spouses and living as husband and wife.

Mr Ogogo says in the petition that the two have failed to adhere to a requirement that every public official shall at all times take measures to avoid any conflict of interest in relation to any public engagement.

“As a consequence of the said marriage ,Mr Idd cannot, without impropriety and public trust, preside over board meetings and make impartial decisions which are above the test and leadership and integrity as there is conflict of interest between his family and the public at the board,” said Mr Ogogoh.

The group now wants the court to issue an order stopping the State Corporation Advisory Committee from authorising payment of all claims of mileage of the two and any other payment pending the hearing and determination of its case.

At the same time, Mr Ogogoh wants the committee and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission ordered to commence investigations into the affairs of the board, particularly the false claims on mileage by the two and file their findings in court within two weeks.

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CONSERVATORY ORDER

“Pending hearing and determination of this case, a conservatory order be issued against the respondents prohibiting them from discharging their duties at the State water agency,” said Mr Ogogoh.

The activists also want Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi to resign and refund all the sitting allowances they have been paid from public coffers while breaking the law on conflict of interest.

The two, the petitioner say, ought to have declared their relationship after being appointed to the State corporation as required by law.

“The petitioner prays that an order be issued that all allowances, stipends and salaries earned and paid to the two be refunded to the exchequer with effect from the marriage or appointment,” the petition reads.

In its court papers, the civil society group is accusing the two of failing to disclose or declare their relationship hence want them to resign.

BOARD MEETINGS

In a supporting affidavit, Mr Ogogoh is also seeking temporary orders restraining the two from sitting in the board meetings until the complaint against them is heard and concluded.

Having been appointed as the chairman of the agency, the petitioner says Mr Idd became obligated to observe and uphold all tenets of good governance and code of conduct governing public bodies in relation to transparency and accountability to avoid conflict of interest in directing, management and administration of the State corporation.

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“Contrary to the above expectation and being obligated to act as such, Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi have turned the said State agency into a family enterprise as they are now married,” said the petitioner.

By Nation.co.ke

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Covid-19: US gives Kenya Sh5bn

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The US says it will provide Sh5 billion to support Kenya’s Health sector and economic recovery.

Through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington announced the support for Kenya’s Covid-19 response and recovery efforts to meet immediate and longer-term challenges that the virus is posing.

US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter said that they are focusing on ensuring resources get to the counties and local communities.

“The American people have always been generous to those in need around the world, and today Kenya is facing the compound challenges of Covid-19, flooding and locusts,” he said.

Nearly Sh610 million of this cash will ensure children are educated through distance learning, young people gain jobs in emerging areas, and citizen-responsive governance helps mitigate possible conflict, violence, and civil unrest.

USAID Mission Director Mark Meassick said that the funds will directly benefit Kenyans.

“We partner with the Kenyan government, NGOs, civil society and local organisations and institutions to support the Kenyan people. The US requires our partners to adhere to rigorous reporting requirements and standards,” Mr Meassick said.

To date, and with support from the US, more than 1,600 health workers have been trained in 35 counties.

272,000 Ministry of Health posters on the prevention and symptoms of Covid-19 have also printed and distributed across 23 high-risk counties, personal protective equipment (PPEs) repurposed from the Ebola outbreak to protect health care workers and labs provided with diagnostic and capacity-building support.

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By Nation.co.ke

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Expensive electricity bills to continue for 15 more years

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Official contracts have tied consumers to high electricity bills linked to thermal generation for up to another 15 years, records show.

A listing of the active diesel-run power generators shows that the longest power purchase agreement runs till 2035, leaving consumers with a longer wait before the expensive energy sources end. The Energy ministry last year began shedding the diesel-run power generation units by letting their contracts expire to reduce the burden on consumers.

Data from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) show that there are eight thermal power plants with a combined installed capacity of 660.82 megawatts supplying the national grid.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said the option of waiting for the expiry of the production agreements would be the easiest as terminating them early would be costly.

“We are slowly retiring them by not renewing licences when contracts expire. This is based on our grid analysis, which show that technically, they can be decommissioned without negative impacts to the quality and security of supply of electricity,” Mr Keter said. The Epra list show that the Triumph Power Generating Company was the latest company to be signed for thermal power supply in July 2015.

The firm’s 83MW plant has a 20-year contract expiring in February 2035. Others like Coast–based Gulf Energy with 80MW and Thika Power with 90MW will expire in 2034.

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Switching off thermal plants is part of the government’s gradual phase-out plan of expensive diesel power generators as it moves to provide cheaper and cleaner energy.

Last year, Iberafrica’s 54MW thermal plant was dropped off the grid after 15 years with the expiry of its power purchase agreement.

The use of thermal power has been blamed for keeping Kenya’s electricity relatively expensive compared to countries like Egypt which largely uses hydro sources retailing at Sh3.23 per kilowatt hour (unit) on average compared to thermal’s Sh18 per unit.

By Nation.co.ke

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