Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua has called out President Uhuru Kenyatta for imposing a new Covid-19 lockdown without providing economic relief measures.
In a press conference on Monday, Karua said the lockdown and measures announced on Friday in Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado and Nakuru counties comes at a time when businesses were beginning to recover from 2020 Covid-19 shocks.
“We are greatly aggrieved that the Jubilee administration did not outline any measures to address these hardship realities as they announced the lockdown,” Karua said at her party headquarters on State House Road.
She said the cost of living continues to rise, exacerbated by unjustifiable hike of fuel prices.
“The mere announcement of the lockdown signalled a new set of automatic job losses in many sectors that the lockdown will directly and indirectly affect,” she said.
President Kenyatta also reviewed also curfew hours in the zoned counties from 10pm to 8pm till 4am.
He also ordered the closure of leaning institutions, with the exception of candidates and medical schools.
“Parts of the country are facing looming food crisis and there is a desperate lack of access to healthcare by many, against a backdrop of overworked and under protected health care workforce,” she said. “A lockdown is not an end in itself, but rather meant to slow community transmission and enable a country to enhance its preparedness to respond to the pandemic.”
Other stakeholders have also called for easing of the measures to protect businesses and livelihoods.
During a discussion on Citizen TV on Sunday, Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi, urged the government to relax some of the Covid-19 containment measures.
Hersi said several tourists had very little time to change travel plans when the President made the announcement.
Tony Sisule, an adviser at the Permanent Delegation of the Commonwealth to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, argues that lockdowns are doing more harm that good.
“Serious thought must be applied to decide whether destroying so many businesses and lives through lockdowns really saves lives, or leads to more deaths. All lives hold equal value, and coronavirus has devastated families of the about 2,000 people it has killed in the last one year in Kenya, and many more in other nations,” Sisule says.
He opines that lockdowns have not stopped the spread of the virus and ensuing deaths for the last one year.
“Lockdowns have resulted in losses of millions of jobs and collapse in incomes. This has certainly caused deaths through malnutrition of children, illnesses people cannot afford to treat, depression, suicide, and other indirect effects,” he argues.
He further notes that the long-term impact of children dropping out of school, child abuse, deepening poverty in households with no income, and related morbidity and mortality, will likely be massive.
“It therefore behoves governments to promote proven methods of slowing coronavirus spread, such as maintaining hygiene, testing, and protecting healthcare staff so they can treat those who fall ill,” he says.