Joint corporate efforts shot in the arm in Covid-19 war

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 00:00 |

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Macharia Irungu 

When I recently saw a testimonial online from Regina Awinja, a resident of Kibera in Nairobi, thanking Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for giving her and her family free hand sanitiser, I knew the sense of unity and collaboration shown by public and private institutions in the fight against Covid-19 is beginning to bear fruit. 

Awinja went ahead to challenge all to ensure that each household in Kibera and other informal settlements have sanitisers.

Her story resonates with millions of Kenyans as the nation comes to terms with the most demanding public health crisis of our time.  

About a month ago after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta tasked KPC to liaise with select oil industry firms and other private sector players to produce alcohol-based hand sanitisers on behalf of government for free distribution to the public, especially the low-income and vulnerable groups as one way of preventing the spread of the virus.

Kenyans will recall that around this time, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared Covid-19 a global pandemic and recommended the use of soap and water or alcohol-based sanitisers to clean hands. 

The process of producing the sanitiser is ongoing and so far, some 500,000 litres have been produced in various blending facilities in Mombasa and Nairobi, out of which about 400,000 litres have been delivered to all the 47 counties through County Commissioners and governors for onward free distribution to Covid-19 high-risk areas, especially the informal settlements, markets, and other places that Kenyans frequent for essential services. 

So far, the free sanitiser has been distributed by KPC staff and other community organisations in Mukuru, Lunga Lunga, Korogocho, Kibra, Mathare, Githogoro, Gikomba, Karura, Lang’ata Women’s Prison, Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, among other areas, as the fight against Covid-19 enters critical phase. 

There are also plans of providing sanitisers to key health facilities in the forefront fighting the deadly virus such as Mbagathi Hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital.

As KPC continues to spearhead this assignment, we are humbled by a national character that is emerging. Kenyans and some institutions have come together to secure the nation’s prospects.

The corporate solidarity that we have witnessed where businesses are putting their resources together to fight the disease are admirable and should be emulated. 

Oil marketing companies such as Vivo Energy, Total Kenya, Ola Energy, Kenol Kobil, Pwani Oil, Sepyanna Oil East Africa and Solvochem East Africa have provided their blending plants and technical expertise at no cost to package the hand sanitisers for the public.

Other notable brands such as EABL, Bollore Logistics, Maersk Kenya, BAT, Coca Cola and Kenya Railways have all readily offered to store and transport these sanitisers to all the 47 counties across the country.

Many others have also provided their ideas and solutions to ensure Kenyans who cannot afford sanitisers get some. We are still appealing for more support because the war is far from over.  

As the old adage says, prevention is better than cure. Our authorities and public health experts have said the best, simplest ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which has claimed more than 140,000 lives around the world is to maintain high standards of hygiene—wash your hands with soap and water; cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

These coupled with maintaining social distance and staying home constitute superior preparedness. 

In the words of Roger Crawford, an American businessman and politician, being challenged in life is inevitable but being defeated is optional.

As a nation like the rest of the world, Covid-19 has challenged us into new thinking. But with the unprecedented collaborations coming out to augment government’s efforts, our best days lie ahead. 

Let us all rally together as a nation and be part of the global solidarity to defeat corona.  —The writer is the Managing Director, Kenya Pipeline Company

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