Residents read mischief as Mombasa lockdown looms

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Muslim faithful observe social distancing as they prepare to break their fast during Ramadhan in Mombasa. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

As focus turns on Mombasa over the spike in numbers of Covid-19 cases, the possibility of more stringent measures to contain the spread of the disease including a possible total lockdown is dawning on residents. 

Governor Hassan Joho recently decried the upward trajectory on Covid-19 infections within the county, saying the only way to stop the trend is a total lockdown.

However, residents say the plan will deal a big blow to local livelihoods that are now caught in between a rock and hard place economically as Covid-19 wrath continues to hit them hard.

Sections of angered residents wants Joho to drop his calls for the lockdown because his “containment measures” including a relief food programme is just a “drop into the ocean.”

On March 26, Joho unveiled a relief package to cushion the most vulnerable. The programme is intended to impact 227,444 vulnerable households in Mombasa against an estimated population of about 1.3 million people.

Already the programme has kicked off at various sub-counties but, its implementation has been marred with complaints as section of residents claim they have been sidelined in the distribution of relief food.

Many of the residents claim distribution of the relief food is skewed and only a particular community is being considered. 

Jane Gachau, a village elder at Buxton area claims vulnerable families are being left out. 

“It has forced us to stop all our activities. As a village elder, I have not been informed who are the beneficiaries in my area.

The programme is done selectively and we don’t know why. What we want as Buxton people is to have the right people considered,” Gachau told People Daily.

Governor Joho said the initiative would help those in need of relief, adding the county government has already mapped out areas of concentration.

He said some families in the county were living in informal settlements and in case of a total lockdown the county government will be in a position to help such families access basic needs mostly food.

Mombasa is surrounded by giant slums and with only 227,444 households listed, quite a huge number of people will suffer from hunger. Bangladesh slums in Jomvu alone  has about 40,000 households.

The slum has no adequate supply of piped water and the population is dependent on well wishers for daily survical. This means in an event of total lockdown, the situation would worsen.

Chai Mbaru, another Mombasa resident accuses chiefs and sub-chiefs for conducting the programme selectively.

He says they have been forced to stay at home as directed but the relief food they were promised has not reached them.

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