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Business Daily reporter explains her narrow escape from the Dusit attack

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On Tuesday afternoon, Business Daily reporter Doreen Wainainah had just arrived for an appointment at Dusit Hotel when gunshots rang out. Everyone was in panic. It was a scene like a scene from a horror movie, she recounts.

This feels a lot like a scene from a horror movie. I arrived at DusitD2 Hotel at 3.20pm for a 3.30pm appointment.

I walked to the far end of the hotel that houses the spa and Rouge Deck. It was as I was waiting at the reception area when we heard an explosion.

At first I ignored. This was then followed by a series of gunshots. We, the guests and staff initially thought it was from a different compound.

The gunshots were relentless and were getting closer. It was then we saw people screaming and running towards ICEA building on Waiyaki Way.

We locked ourselves in fearing that leaving would head us right into the attack.

We were in the corridor in different states of panic. That was when one of the staff told us it would be safer if we just ran to the next complex (ICEA) for our safety.

The staff unlocked the door and we ran. It was a narrow bridge that led to a closed door so had to jump over a fence.

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

As we got over the fence the gunshots got louder so we ran across Waiyaki Way (even as motorists looked confused) until we assembled near the Westlands busstop.

Gunshots were still audible and the smoke was visible above the trees at ICEA.

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Business

Pricey tomatoes push up the cost of living in February

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The high cost of tomatoes contributed to a spike in the cost of living in February with overall prices of goods and services in the economy increasing by 6.37 per cent.

This was a nine-month with the increase in general prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks standing at 10.58 per cent, year-on-year.

In January, inflation rate, or the annualised percentage change in price in a basket of goods, stood at 5.78 per cent.

Price of a kilogramme of tomatoes, whose high price has been the butt of many jokes online, increased by 62.4 per cent from Sh82.4 in the same month last year to Sh133.8.Another foodstuff that saw its price rise at a fast rate was maize grain (loose), with a kilogram retailing at Sh50.8, an increase of 42.8 per cent compared to the same period last year

.A kilogramme of onions touched Sh110.29 from Sh89.41, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“The increase in inflation was driven by increase in prices of several food items outweighing decrease registered in respect of others,” said KNBS.

Sukumawiki

“Notably, the prices of tomatoes increased by 62.4 per cent in February 2020 compared to the cost in February 2019. However, prices of mangoes and loose maize grain dropped by 8.39 and 1.3 per cent respectively.”While the heavy downpour depressed the supply of tomatoes, it was a boon for other foodstuff such as Sukuma Wiki.A kilogramme of sukuma wiki retailed at an average of Sh40, this was 15.4 per cent lower compared to Sh47.3 in the same month in 2019.

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

Mangoes, potatoes, carrots and spinach also saw their retail prices decline during this period.House rents went up, with the index on housing, water, electricity , gas and other fuels increasing by 0.47 per cent.

“However, during the same period, the cost of electricity consumption kerosene dropped,” said KNBS.

A litre of petrol retailed at Sh113.3 last in February, an increase of 12 per cent, from Sh101.13 in January.An inflation rate of 6.37 per cent remains within the Central Bank of Kenya’s target of between 2.5 and 7.5 per cent.

By Standard

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Top researchers caught in toxic scandals over money and sex

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A half a billion-shilling complex, claims of sexual harassment and corruption allegations are at the heart of a bitter war threatening to tear apart one of Africa’s mapping centres of excellence.

So intense is the infighting at the Kasarani based Regional Centre For Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) that four whistle blowers, among them a technical director, have been sacked.

The working environment at the 44-year old institute is so toxic that members of staff are now fearing it will compromise operations.

Investigations by Saturday Standard indicate that bad blood between some top managers has forced the board of governors drawn from 20 countries in East and South Africa to intervene.

RCMRD’s Director General Emannuel Nkurunzinza insists he is a victim of a plot to sabotage his work, dismissing claims of harassment against him.In October last year, some staff complained to the council chairperson Bonolo Elizabeth Khumotaka about Nkuruzinza’s governance style.Some — John Kiema (director of technical services), Joseph Masatu (staff assistant head), Byron Anangwe (business development) and Ann Kingori (executive secretary) — have now been pushed out.

All the four had testified against the director general when a raft of allegations were presented to the council last October.

“I had worked for RCMRD for 20 years. My contract was to expire in December last year and I expected it to be renewed. However, after I testified, my letter of termination was dropped at home, shortly before Christmas. What they did was not right but I have accepted this and moved on,” Mr Anangwe said.

He said he had complained about bad governance as there was too much interference by his director, whom he claimed was antagonising partners and shooting down other ideas, in the process killing creativity among staff.

READ ALSO:   Us assures Kenya of its support in the fight against al-Shabaab 

Anangwe said he was concerned after all the reserves the centre had been saving for two decades were committed to the construction of a four-storey complex that will cost $5 million (about Sh500 million).But Nkrunzinza said Anangwe’s contract and those of his two colleagues had been terminated by the governing council which had also directed they should not be renewed.

Nkrunzinza, a Rwandan, has also been accused of unilaterally awarding two contracts for training in use of drones in mapping in Zambia and Rwanda a compatriot, Rhona Nyakuluma, instead of letting the centre do the work and earn some money.

The director however defended himself, saying the centre had been contracted by the World Bank to engage the consultant who they had already identified and that it was only supposed to be paid an administration fee of 17 per cent.

Subscription fees

Each member country is supposed to pay an annual subscription fee based on its Gross Domestic Product. There was controversy surrounding how some arrears owed to the centre by Uganda in form of subscription fees had been settled.Nkurunzinza dismissed as untrue allegations that he had waved off the debt after he secured a contract for the recovery of data from a destroyed disk for a Kampala based firm irregularly.

“Uganda has cleared all its arrears. Those making those allegations do not know what they are talking about. The centre’s accounts are scrutinised by external auditors and no queries about our finances have been raised,” he said.

A complaint letter to the chair seen by Saturday Standard detail the frosty working environment at the centre. It reads in part: “2019 has been a very difficult year for TSD (technical service department)  and indeed essentially because of unwarranted interference in the management of TSD) and lack of support from the Director General.” According to this petition, staff had raised their grievances to the management, issues they said were never discussed.

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The staff had complained of sexual harassment of students and interns during a meeting held on April 5, 2019, but the director general conclusively dealt with the matter through a memo on May 20, saying the claims had no basis.The staff had further claimed there had been a doubtful payment of about $37,945 (Sh3,832,445) in 2017 to a Ugandan firm after it repaired a computer disc that had vital data.

According to documents seen by Saturday Standard, the payment was suspected to be fishy because another firm in South Africa had unsuccessfully tried to repair the disc.

While requesting for payment, Banuli Kasanga of Dream Soft Uganda Limited had confirmed that his firm had repaired the faulty device which had been tested at at the DG’s office and found to be working.Nkurunzinza had on July 5, 2017 written to Dream Soft: “This is to acknowledge that Mr Babuli Kasango has today delivered data recovered from Dell Power Vault MD32000 and on a sample basis  demonstrated that the data is in good condition,” he wrote.This raised questions among the technical staff who wondered why the repaired disc was never returned to the centre and why the DG had gone to Uganda not long after the payment had been made.

Received data

But the director general maintained that he had indeed received the data which he had handed over to a client who had been patiently waiting for it.When these issues were presented to the governing council, which conducted  its sittings in Nairobi between November 28 and 30 last year, things turned nasty for the whistle blowers.In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, Prof Kiema received a letter from the governing council dated January 24 informing him of the turn of events.

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

“Reference is made to your letter of November 28, 2019 addressed to me in which you raised a complaint against the Director General. The governing Council undertook investigations in Nairobi. From the investigations, undertaken no evidence has been established supporting your allegations.

”The chairperson of the board said their investigations had unearthed incontrovertible evidence of insubordination towards the director general and the whistle blower was given five days to show why severe disciplinary action could not be taken against him.Ultimately, the axe fell on Kiema on February 3 when Khumotaka fired back:  “I wish to inform you that I have received your explanation on the offences you were accused of. However, I do not find the explanation satisfactory”.She added: “In the interest of  smooth running the centre, your contract is terminated with immediate effect by paying you three months salary in lieu of notice in accordance with your contract of employment”.

When asked why the witnesses had been sacked barely a month after testifying against him, Nkurunzinza said although the complainants had poisoned the working environment with baseless allegations, this was not the basis of their loss of jobs.“Their contracts ended in December and the governing council opted not to renew them. They were not victimised for reporting me,” the DG said.

On sexual harassment allegations, Nkurunzinza said when the investigators came, nobody came forward or presented evidence to back the claims.

By Saturday Standard,

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Mutua warns on ‘dirty’ content at drama festival

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The Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) has announced strict measures aimed at filtering inappropriate content in stage plays that will be displayed during this year’s National Drama Festival.

Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua said there would be no room in the festival for content that could erode cultural and moral values and

urged school administrators to ensure stage plays stick to set guidelines as enshrined in the Films and Stage Plays Act.

Mutua said the agency will keenly monitor this year’s event which will be held at the Coast.

He said the measures would help tame rising moral decay in society.

“Since children are impressionable and among the highest consumers of content, there is need to direct them towards consuming clean content early in life. The war against compromised content must begin right from creation and must also involve children rights from the creation level,” said Mutua.

Age approptriate

He said the partnership between the KFCB and the Kenya National Drama and Film Festival (KNDFF) is aimed at ensuring content that is consumed by children promotes moral values and is in tune with the country’s culture.

The partnership, he said, was strategically intended to reach and influence at least 25,000 students and 1,200 teachers as media content creators, consumers towards clean age appropriate content.

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

Nurture talents

Executive secretary of the Kenya National Drama and Film Festival James Indimuli challenged tutors to expose learners to extra-curricular activities that can enable them explore their talents.

“The Board ventured into partnership with the Ministry of Education through the KNDFF with the aim of identifying and nurturing talent among learners right from preschool,” he added.

Indimuli confirmed that the 61st National Drama Festivals will be held at Shimo La Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa County.

“We want to ensure participant’s tell stories that promote positive morals and culture and those that will not adhere to the guidelines will be banned,” said Indimuli.

The two were speaking during the Kenya Drama and Film festival retreat at a Mombasa hotel on Wednesday.

Data shows that the film industry has a potential to be a significant contributor to the country’s GDP by creating employment opportunities for the youth.

Kenya’s film industry generates Sh7.2 billion every year, creating direct and indirect jobs for more than 100,000 people, according to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers.

2020 DRAMA FESTIVAL

• The 61st National Drama Festival will be held in the Shimo la Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa County from April 13 to 24, 2020.

• The Kenya Films Classification Board has said it will closely monitor the event in line with this year’s theme which is “Promoting moral responsibility in society through drama and film”.

READ ALSO:   Friends, family mourn young bubbly woman killed in Riverside terror attack

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