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Why people are leaving Nairobi’s Umoja estate in droves

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“I came to live in Umoja in 2007. At that time, I was attending studies at a technical institute in the city. Umoja estate was largely well-defined in terms of housing structures. Most houses were mainly main houses and the flats there were only two storeys high,” recalls Oscar Odwar, a former resident of Umoja.

Besides the cheap houses, Umoja attracted many urban dwellers because of its accessibility to the Central Business District and neighbouring areas like Thika and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Easy access

 

Umoja can be accessed from the CBD via Jogoo Road or Outering Road.

The many routes to access the estate was another added advantage that made the area favourable to Kenyans working in the CBD.

This meant that commuters would spend reasonable time on the road especially during rush hours.

“Its accessibility is actually one of the main reasons I decided to move to Umo. Also, the availability of public transportation at any time. I was living in a two-bedroom house, which cost Sh8,000 per month. You would hardly see these carts that are used to ferry water in 20-litre containers,” said Mr Odwar who lived in Umoja for 13 years before relocating to Kahawa in 2019.

“There were several basketball courts and children had plenty of places to play but most of these fields ended up being developed into apartments.”

Back in the day, most houses in the estate were mainly occupied by their owners but, with the rising demand for housing in the area, most home owners opted to either rent them out or develop them into bigger housing units.

As the years went by, essential commodities like water supply in homes started becoming scarce.

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company introduced water rationing in order to feed the surging numbers of residents.

But the rationing seemed not to have solved the problem as taps remained dry for weeks and sometimes even months.

The sewer lines also took a hit as they could not support the increased population in the area.

“Burst sewer lines started becoming a common occurrence,” explained Mr Odwar.

High rents

 

Then came high rent charges demanded by landlords due to increased demand.

“If I compare the population by then and now it has really increased. Children are now forced to play on balconies due to lack of space. Umoja was a very clean estate. But now there is lack of water, leaking sewers and insecurity,” laments Mr Odwar.

Francis Nderitu, a photojournalist, also has good memories of the estate. This is where he was born and raised but he decided to move out last year after he got fed up with buying water every day from vendors.

“No water was coming out of the taps, it would sometimes come once in two weeks, forcing me to spend extra cash to get the precious commodity,” lamented Mr Nderitu.

He says Umoja changed from being a family estate to a bachelors’ haven.

This happened when some of the home owners decided to move out of the area.

Many pubs

Then there was a mushrooming of pubs and other small drinking joints.

“Pubs started popping up because of the demand by people who were now moving to Umoja. The bachelors moving to Umo were mostly people starting off their lives as independent people, and they wanted places where they can buy ready-made food, drinks and shopping without going too far from home. This gave rise to the small-scale businesses,” said Mr Nderitu.

In fact, he says there is a street that was nicknamed ”Pewa” because of the number of small pubs  found on that stretch of road.

“It started with just one pub and then, all of a sudden, others started coming up,” said Mr Nderitu.

This then attracted criminal activities like mugging and walking alone at an isolated alley was no longer safe.

Over the years, the roads also peeled off and were not repaired.

So, when it rains, the situation worsens as roads become impassable.

But Umoja was not always like this, Mr Nderitu says, and he hopes that something can be done by the county government so that Umoja does not sink deeper into the abyss.

BY NN


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Lifestyle

Peter Gwengi: ‘Accepting I had HIV saved my life’

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“Can you imagine for the many years since I signed a memorandum of understanding with my virus, I have lived a happy and peaceful life. We have been faithful to each other,” this was Peter Gwengi’s opening statement when we visited him at his home in Migori County.

It was his wife’s poor health that made him test for the virus. He learnt about his wife’s status, and eventually his own, in a cruel manner.

“She was seriously ill and admitted to hospital in Migori, but when there was no change, and her health deteriorating, I requested to move her to a better hospital. A nurse called me on the side and whispered, ‘why are you wasting your money treating her and she is going to die anyway. She is HIV positive’,” said Mr Gwengi.

He did not believe it. He called the family doctor, who confirmed that his wife was HIV positive and had been taking drugs for six years. She had kept the news away from him, perhaps due to fear of stigma and rejection. “For six years, living with someone and not knowing she is HIV positive, and many people, including some of my family members, knew her status. I was the only one who had been in the dark all along. It took a toll on me,” he said.

Opportunistic infection

Fearing the worst, but determined to get it over with, Mr Gwengi got tested for the virus. Even though he had prepared himself for the worst, when the test came back positive, he was devastated. Nine months later, his wife died. He lived in denial for two years, not talking about the disease to anyone — not even close relatives and friends — and refusing to take medication.

The two years were not easy for him. It was one opportunistic infection after another, but he would not accept that he had the virus. He thought of committing suicide.

He could not get out of his house or face his family or friends because of the stigma that came with the disease.

“One thing that I kept on asking myself — and I did not have an answer — is, where the disease came from. But thinking deeply, I believe I contracted HIV when I worked as a field officer in the early 1990s, a job that kept me away from home for long periods,” he said .

One day in 2001, he got seriously ill and was rushed to hospital unconscious. It was after several counselling sessions and being told that he was going to die and leave his three daughters orphans that made him accept his status. He then did everything he could to prolong his life.

 Telling his inner circle of friends about his HIV status was easier than he had expected, because he had accepted it.

He was placed on drugs, and thanks to his employer, Mr Gwengi was fully insured and would get his drugs using his medical card. Having seen how his wife suffered, he vowed to keep to the drugs regimen.

“One day, I woke up and told my virus now that we are partners and they are going to be part of me forever, they should not put me down and I will not disturb them. I would obey and follow all the requirements. And that’s how I have been living with my virus,” he narrated to the Nation.

Mr Gwengi said he maintains a well-balanced lifestyle, healthy diet, taking antiretroviral drugs on time, exercising, having adequate rest, and dropping bad habits such as taking excessive alcohol.

“HIV is a very jealous virus. If you are to take your drugs, for instance at 9pm, and you skip, it will eventually notice that something is not right and it will attack with several diseases until you adhere to the rules,” said Mr Gwengi.

Stress, he points out, is also dangerous and can undermine your health.

“This is one of the most faithful viruses. It does not want to be disturbed and it will not disturb you. All you need to do is just to accept that you have it and it will respond positively. Get yourself good friends and family members who encourage you positively.”

Mr Gwengi founded an advocacy organisation, where he runs campaigns to promote positive living and acceptance of people with HIV.

by nation.africa


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Courts

Fraud case opens lid into the sophisticated art of con game

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When seven suspects took to the dock to plead to fraud charges, they looked ordinary. Like any Tom, Dick and Harry – plain. But underneath the veneer of simplicity lay a suave and sophisticated lot that has opened the door to the world of conmanship.

The seven, who had purported to be officials from the Office of the Deputy President, were yesterday charged a fresh over a Sh180 million fake tender scam.

Allan Kiprotich Chesang, Teddy Awiti, Kevin Mutundura Nyongesa, Augustine Wambua Matata, Joy Wangari Kamau, James William Makokha alias MrWanyonyi and Johan Ochieng Osore appeared before Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku and denied the charges.

They were charged afresh after the prosecution consolidated their files.

They appeared before Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku after the prosecution consolidated their files.

The suspects, who duped the victim into supplying 2,800 pieces of laptops in August 2018, had forged a Local Purchase Order (LPO) purported to have been issued by a Mr Mulinge, an assistant procurement officer at the DP’s office.

Their case is a classic example of the tremendous transformation fraud – originally associated with dingy downtown areas, and targeting the naive and less educated people – has undergone in the last few years.

Lately, the majority of the victims – as the recent case of a high-ranking diplomat – are well exposed people.

But what has baffled detectives is the fact that some of the serious fraud cases are executed in high-level government and security offices.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the State House, Harambee House, Harambee House Annex, the United Nations, the Department of Defence (DoD), Jogoo House police offices and Afya House, are among places where fraudsters have either pitched tent, or purported to operate from.

The Economic and Commercial Crimes Unit of the DCI is currently investigating a case of fraud involving millions of shillings by suspects posing as UN staff.

The gang, including a man and a woman who the DCI a fortnight ago listed as wanted persons, are also wanted for bank fraud offences.

The DCI, in a notice in the newspapers, indicated that Gerald Gatheru Mwai and Gladys Mwara Kamau, were wanted following a warrant of arrest issued by a Milimani court in Nairobi, on October 16.

Apart from the case before court in which a warrant of arrest was issued against the duo, the two are also said to have been duping unsuspecting businessmen over nonexisting tenders at the UN.

The victims are issued with fake Local Purchase Orders (LPOs) after parting with some money, and would be directed to specific companies to purchase tendered goods, especially drugs and rice, but told to pay and wait for the goods to be delivered, because the UN complex is a security zone.

Some of the victims told detectives that since access to the UN compound was restricted, they were convinced to surrender the goods to a team of ‘UN staff’ to deliver. The fraudsters would then disappear with the goods.

The gullibility has been baffling, a clear proof that no one is immune to fraud.

In the latest fraud case involving Sh300 million that was in court on Wednesday last week, the victim, Haile Menkerios, is said to have served in different senior positions within the UN.

The suspect, businessman and former Embakasi East parliamentary aspirant

Francis Mureithi, is alleged to have defrauded Menkerios under the pretext that he could help the diplomat secure a food supply tender at the DoD.

Menkerios, 74, has served as the Head of UN office to the African Union (UNOAU) and as a Special Representative to the African Union.

He has also served as the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan.

According to Psychology professor Robert Cialdini, people fall for scams due to a number of reasons, including the principle of reciprocity or enforced indebtedness used to elicit unwise action from the targeted victims.

“Not all fraud victims are risk-taking and greedy individuals seeking to make a quick shilling. They come from a variety of socio-economic, educational, age and gender backgrounds,” a senior detective at DCI headquarters said.

And the fraudsters are not the ordinary slinky characters who operate covertly. Some of them are ubiquitous characters who use their community and professional credibility and respectability to con.

In most of the cases, fraudsters disguise themselves as employees of certain institutions and forge LPOs and letterheads to send fake tender bids to unsuspecting companies or businessmen with requests to supply goods.

DoD In another case at DoD in August this year, the once high flying former assistant minister Danston Mungatana was arrested by detectives from Kilimani DCI together with Collins Paul Waweru for the offence of obtaining money by pretences, forgery and making of a false document.

The two had obtained Sh1 million by pretending they were in a position to help a business person to secure a non-existent Sh70 million tender, purportedly to supply cereals and building materials to the DOD. After the complainant parted with Sh1 million, she was called to a Nairobi hotel to meet “a senior officer who would help push the alleged business opportunity”.

AFYA HOUSE

In March this year, detectives arrested Mercy Waihiga Wanjiku alias Linda Masake Mugundu for obtaining goods valued at Sh37 million from a businessman in another fake tender at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Afya House.

Wanjiku, together with other suspects, posed as senior MoH Health officials and lured Eastleigh businessman Ibrahim Adan to deliver 20,000 boxes of hand gloves, 1000 pieces of non-contact infrared thermometers and 579 boxes of face masks worth Sh37 million.

The meetings -to award the fake tender MOH/DPPH/DNMP/001/GFONT/2019- 2020 dated May 4 to Rocketway Construction Ltd -were held at the boardroom used by the Human Resources department. According to the businessman, every time he visited Afya House, he would find the ‘officials’ waiting for him and they would quickly whisk him past the security officers at the reception.

by Zadock Angira, PD.co.ke


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Lifestyle

Mum celebrates petrol station attendant who shielded her daughter at night

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“I will forever be grateful to this guy,” Kihangu Veronicah said as she shared a photo of a petrol station attendant who saved her daughter’s life.

Limuru mum celebrates petrol station attendant who shielded her daughter at night

Peter Elegwa worked the night shift that day. Photo: Shell
Source: UGC

The grateful mum narrated how Peter Elegwa shielded her daughter from the danger in the dead of the night after she failed to make it home in time.

According to the Facebook user, her daughter was caught in traffic past curfew hours on Saturday, November 28.

The driver of the matatu she had boarded decided to drop the passengers before they reached their destinations.

 

Limuru mum celebrates petrol station attendant who shielded her daughter at night

Peter, the man who watched over Kihangu’s daughter. Photo: Kihangu Victoria
Source: Facebook

The driver then turned away as he was not willing to spend one more minute on the God-forsaken road.

Kihangu’s daughter decided to trek the rest of the way despite it being pitch black outside.

It was around 10.30pm and the rain had started pouring so she had to consider seeking shelter while the rainfall subsided.

“She arrived at Shell Petrol Station and this guy sheltered her and provided my daughter with a seat as she waited for me to sort out her transportation,” the happy mum recalled.

Kihangu further explained that Peter made sure her daughter was safe till 11.15pm when a car was sent to pick her up.

She praised the kind employee and thanked him for his heart of gold.

by Tuko.co.ke


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