Third Eye

Curfew blockade was too punitive

Monday, April 19th, 2021 00:00 |
A police officer confronts a man when implementing the curfew. Photo/File

We are all aware of what happened on Saturday night when police blocked traffic on all major roads in Nairobi, in an attempt to implement curfew rules.

We saw exactly the kind of impact it has had on the people stuck in traffic and the rest of Kenyans.

One thing is clear in all of this: that the government cares little about the people.

With the curfew slated for 8pm alongside other Covid-19 containment measures, and without relief in terms of economic stimulus or closure of offices to reduce traffic, the blockade was ill-timed and cruel.

With economic downtime, the weekend is no longer about relaxation and leisure; it is about work, bringing home bread, especially at a time when people have lost jobs and are looking for ways to survive.

Clearly, it is not strange that we have increased human and vehicular traffic during the weekend.

Even if it was about punishing people who flouted curfew rules, Saturday night’s blockade curtailed essential services from dispensing their mandates.

Ambulances, healthcare and food services and others were stuck in the epic jam caused by the police action.

That this came at a time when the government was welcoming foreigners at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa also paints a terrible picture of a country that seems to value non-Kenyans more than its own citizens.

We have seen from the past that use of police to enforce curfew rules has never borne fruits.

Instead people have died or have been maimed and injured in such situations.

It is time that the government goes back to the drawing board. If the situation indicates the 8pm is not working as it is clear at the moment, then things must be revised. 

What exactly are Kenyans going through to fail in observing the curfew? What can the government do to change the situation instead of quickly rushing to punishing Kenyans, and thus causing more harm than good?

While the intention is positive, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

It seems we are quick to punish and penalise instead of uncovering the root causes of what is clearly a symptom.

It should also do its part in providing relief to Kenyans suffering the impact of the pandemic and its resultant restrictions. 

Importantly, the government should be reasonable in handling distressed people and situations instead of reveling in cruelty.

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