Kenya, Rants

The Common Mwananchi

Walking home from work the other day I passed very close to the road construction on Wayaki Way. The old, worn road had been grazed and the workers were shoveling hot, new tarmac onto the road from the back of a truck. I had to squint and hold my breath as I passed for those few seconds, yet the two guys shoveling had zero special equipment (other than shovels)—no eye gear, work boots, gloves or masks! All this got me thinking about the common mwananchi (roughly “citizen” in Swahili), and how stuff like this is probably typical.

Whoever commissioned the rehabilitation of Wayaki Way couldn’t have written in some extra cash to cover some safety equipment? The least they could have done is throw in $100 for a few masks! And god knows they’re probably only paying the workers 200–500 shillings/day (about $8). Let’s just be honest: worker-related expenses are hardly significant on a project like this. If you won’t shovel that tarmac, there have gotta be twenty other guys standing in line behind you for that job.

The part that really gets me is that some politician is going to ride this “highway rehabilitation” stunt all the way up the political ladder. I can see it now, the guy will say that he is “building Kenya’s infrastructure” or “investing in jobs for Kenyans”… wanker.

For the record, Kenyan members of parliament earn around 1,000,000 Kenyan Shillings per month (about $12,000), and there are 224 members of parliament. As far as I’m concerned those salaries are a huge waste of tax-payers’ money—money squandered on a small group of elite politicians who are entirely out of touch with the reality of the common Kenyan.

2 Comments

  1. Mlami

    Not only that, but the total absence of any attempt at traffic management during repair really gets to me. If you are lucky there will be a jamaa with a red rag who is generally ignored. Frequently they just divert traffic to the wrong side of the road and expect the drivers to work it out. When that is a high speed dual carriageway the result is often lethal – but no-one seems to give a damn.

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