Coronavirus: Murkomen now calls for protection of tenants, reduction of food prices

Coronavirus: Murkomen now calls for protection of tenants, reduction of food prices
FILE PHOTO | Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen speaks on the floor of the Senate. PHOTO| COURTESY

Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen has proposed a raft of measures aimed at cushioning Kenyans from the imminent economic crisis orchestrated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In his motion on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Murkomen urged the national government to effect rigorous measures that will act as a bulwark against a possible economic meltdown including setting up a cash transfer programme targeting at least 10 million families, protection of residential and commercial tenants, and provision of food and other essential commodities at affordable prices.

Other proposals include the protection of employees from retrenchment, enactment of policies and procedures to curb the spread of coronavirus, provision of testing and medical equipment in at least one public hospital in each county, protection of healthcare and frontline workers, easing legislative and regulatory requirements of doing business, and implementation of measures to ensure learners continue with their studies.

“There is need for the establishment of a broad-based stimulus package that will cushion the poor of the poor from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. If we do not guarantee food to Kenyans living in Mathare slums or Kibera slums they will walk to Muthaiga and Kibera respectively to get food for themselves,” he said.

The Elgeyo Marakwet Senator further called for the government to set aside a stimulus package for farmers and effect tax exemptions on farm inputs to ensure reduced cost of food and food production and sufficiency in food supply.

On the 7pm to 5am curfew currently in place, Murkomen called on law enforcement agencies to carry out their duty with decorum and civility and desist from harassing and roughing up Kenyans.

He further voiced his support for Government’s move to hire more doctors and nurses to handle coronavirus cases while calling for the setting up of field medical camps in hotspot counties, coordinated communications between Parliament and the National Government, and keen consideration of people living with mental illness.

“We should borrow of leaf from Nigerian government which has set up medical camps in stadiums. We can do the same at Kasarani Stadium, Nyayo Stadium or Camp Toyoyo to ensure more people are tested and quarantined where need be.”

The Senate Majority Leader also called for an all-inclusive process of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that involves economic experts, business and religious leaders and the various political party leaders in the country.

In response to questions over Senate’s decision to discontinue its sittings two weeks ago, Senator Murkomen said their absence from the Chamber did not mean abdication of duty as they have been in constant engagement and consultation on matters of national interest and the coronavirus pandemic via online avenues and phone calls.

He noted that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Legislative arms in different countries had devised ways of reducing their sittings and the number of attendants in an effort to minimise chances of infection.

In supporting the motion, the Senate also endorsed the proposal to form a 7-member ad hoc committee to consider the proposals made on the floor of the Senate and opinions of other Kenyans on how to deal with the pandemic and draft a report to be tabled before the Senate on the next sitting next Tuesday.

Those drafted in the committee are Senators Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia), Abshiro Halakhe (Nominated), Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Mogeni (Nyeri), Sylvia Kasanga (Nominated), and Mohamed Faki (Mombasa).

“I would like to urge the National Assembly to also consider forming a bipartisan committee like the one we have formed, and establish joint sittings of both committees to ensure a broader and more inclusive process that will help us defeat this coronavirus epidemic,” Murkomen stated.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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