BY KAHONZI KALIWA
Kwale County is in dire need of Sh450 million to enable it feed over 500,000 people with relief foodstuffs because of the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Kwale county chief Salim Mvurya, speaking to journalists at his office on April 7, 2020, expressed fears that majority of his people risked starvation if well-wishers, donors and partners do not chip in to help.
After chairing a coronavirus rapid response committee meeting, Mr Mvurya said many residents had lost their jobs and livelihoods following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
“Some 10,000 people employed directly or indirectly in the hotel industry have lost their jobs or livelihoods after international visitors ceased flying in the country two to three months ago,” he added.
This, according to him, has increased the number of vulnerable people past the half a million mark giving rise to about 67 per cent of dependants requiring urgent assistance for relief food.
To deal with this huge number of needy people, the governor wants the national government to come to their rescue apart from other local or international well-wishers and donors respectively.
On Covid-19 virus, Mr Mvurya urged his residents to comply with all the Ministry of Health and county directives so as to stay free from contracting the contagious and dangerous illness.
“The only way to keep off coronavirus is to strictly follow those guidelines to ensure your safety and that of your family,” he said expressing concern that most people are living under the poverty level in the county.
He added that the simple acts of washing hands, using clean water and soap, sanitizing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and unnecessary movements could mean life and death.
Due to the urgency of the issue, the governor has called for a meeting with County Assembly leadership to discuss on how they can cut down the budget allocations to get about Sh200 million to immediately assist residents in needy of basic requirements.
In fighting the pandemic, the county intends to put up measures that will check incoming and outgoing people at its entry points with Mombasa and Lunga Lunga border post.
“Soon I announce other points of this county where screening will be done because I want my people to be free from being infected by this virus that has hit the headlines globally,” he said.
These sentiments comes a week after his county government waived all penalties of land rates, hospital bills for outpatients in all health facilities and interest for single business permits.
Others are market entry fees, daily parking charges for private vehicles, suspended monthly parking fees for matatu, boda-boda and tuk-tuk for duration of 60 days.
This move is aimed at lowering the cost of living among Kwale residents.