Saturday, March 29, 2008

Driver learning schools...

I don't know how many people get stuck in long, slow moving traffic, but, 9 times out of 10, the culprit/s of this traffic jams are the numerous cars, trucks, 'matatus' and of late even motor-bikes, from a booming business of driving schools. To make matters worse, they are seen on every road, highway and lane all over Mombasa 'city', at least. I don't know about Nairobi and other 'cities'/towns in this country, but, these people are perfect pests to other road users as they drive at a snails pace and when it comes to cross-roads, they take literally ages to move when the opportunity arises. In the process, they drive other drivers nuts!

There has to be another way to train drivers without driving the rest of the driving public round the bend. Especially, on Mombasa's narrow roads and crazy traffic already made worse by insane matatu drivers and tuk tuks who weave in and out of traffic like needles without warning. Add these umpteen driving schools with their countless vehicles being driven in 1st or 2nd gear and of course the mkokotenis which have also proliferated every place imaginable and one would be forgiven for the intolerant and aggressive behaviour of the remaining driving public.

Oh, and the potholes and the suicidal pedestrians who also have to be circumvented, of course!!! I'm sure that visitors from more orderly places on planet Earth, must be just shaking their heads and muttering under their breaths that after all this is what they imagined a typical 'banana republic' to be like.

Now, for suggestions - Isn't it possible for these driving schools to be allocated special 'parks' which they can use to teach driving? In fact, these would be ideal roads with all the markings and signboards in place for the learner drivers to see and apply. Also, to make them more proficient, these learners should also have to give a written test, i.e. a theory and practical. After they have learnt in this 'park' properly, they can then be let loose among the other drivers/road users. In such a scenario they wouldn't infuriate others so much.

Alternatively, and till a 'park' is prepared for this, they should be allowed to use only a limited numbers of roads for a limited amount of time. Like, they should be banned from using all roads during peak traffic times!

Is this such a complicated arrangement that officialdom would find difficult to apply and enforce? Can our policy makers please help us keep our sanity on the roads?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Calling cards... and the disabled

I don't know if anybody has had similar problems but, Telkom Kenya's calling cards are very unfriendly to the visually challenged!

After one has scratched off the the number and password is barely visible as they are written very faintly (as though their machines are running out of ink!), and on a background or green. Therefore, the contrast is not good enough for the numbers to been properly visible. Add to this, if the scratching off is not done very gently, the numbers themselves start getting scratched off!

This is really awful. Fortunately, one can then dial the toll-free number and get help from whoever answers by giving the serial number of the card and getting the right numbers, again. But, all this boils down to a lot of wastage of time. It would help matters if these numbers were written in bold print and people with visual impairment kept in mind.

Why do we, in this country, only cater for very fit people and totally forget about the many and variously disabled in our society? Starting from buildings to 'services' provided, nobody even gives a thought to the many disabled in our country?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


As my latest reminder, I will fwd the attached document which spells out in a nutshell what we, in Mombasa and Coast Province at large, go through every single day.

The following was sent to me last week. It's such an irony that we're still living without water and instead of matters improving, they are deteriorating and NOBODY cares!

Please, read the attached word document to enlighten yourselves. Phyllis has done a great job. Well done and thank you!


-------- Original Message --------

Date: Thu, 20 Mar :55:27 +0300
From: Phyllis Muema
Reply-To: Phyllis Muema
Organization: Ujamaa Center



In 2006 a range of locally based stakeholders in Mombasa launched a Citizen Report Card (CRC) to obtain citizen’s experiences on water supply, sanitation and solid waste services. The CRC tool is used to provide feedback to public service agencies on the strengths and weaknesses of their work. CRC’s facilitate prioritization of reforms and corrective actions by drawing attention to the problems highlighted and also facilitate cross fertilization of ideas and approaches by identifying good practices. The current members of the Mombasa Water Consortium are a network of current members are Ujamaa Center, Illishe Trust, Coast Development Lobby Group, Women Network Center, Prepared Society, Coast Rights Forum, Action Aid, Likoni Easte, Mombasa Island estates, Environment Trust of Kenya, Consumer First Network, Kituo cha sheria, Rotary Club of Mombasa, Trace Kenya, Hope maintainers among others.


Unfortunately, as we commemorate the world water day, Mombasa city faces the following problems:

The consortium has been discussing with Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company, the Coast Water Board and the Municipal Council of Mombasa who are the institutions mandated to provide water, sewerage and sanitation services to the citizens of Mombasa and shared its concern over the following issues which were raised by Mombasa residents during the study.

Sanitation and Solid Waste Management

Dissatisfaction stands overall at 71% for solid waste services. People use a range of options, with burying and burning the rubbish at 51% and throwing the rubbish in the open the other. Indeed 54% of the poor throw their garbage in the open, whilst 63% of the non poor use independent private companies to collect garbage. Only 13% of the poor are accessing private providers.

Mombasa residents were aware of the assignment of Public Health officials in their area. It is clear that they have little impact on resident’s lives.

Collection of rubbish is poor with only 9% of those interviewed saying that were satisfied. An overwhelming 74% expressed dissatisfaction with the management of solid waste

Throwing the rubbish into an open area, drain or other place is the most widely used means of disposing rubbish (44%), followed by burning and burying of rubbish (38%). Nearly a third (32%) of respondents relied on collection by independent private companies; only 13% have the rubbish from household collected by the council. Thirty percent of respondents who expressed an opinion on pit latrine emptying services were satisfied—mostly the poor. A considerable 51% were dissatisfied, especially the non poor. There is a general overall dissatisfaction among all residents (73%) of the maintenance and management of the sewerage services, with the poor being more dissatisfied. Only 19% of the respondents expressed complete satisfaction with the non poor reporting a slightly higher level of satisfaction Given the dominant reliance on latrines by majority of residents, it is difficult for residents to adhere to the national or municipal bylaws in the short run; support measures are needed for affordable and hygienic latrine emptying.

The sewage system is characterized by a range of problems including flooding (49%), bad smells (47%), broken sewer mains (40%), raw sewage in the open (25%) and no mains sewer in areas (21%). The non poor reported more of flooding, broken main sewers and bad smells, while the poor experienced more of raw sewage in the open and absence of main sewers.

Only 22% said they were completely satisfied with the work of public health officers. Most residents in Mombasa are not aware of any public officials around their estates or the roles the officers are supposed to play. Only 5% of respondents are aware of any Public Health Officials assigned to their residential area. Among those less than (44%) indicated that public health officials oversee hygiene within the municipality, while 23% thought that the public health officers are supposed to keep the public places clean but do not.

Water Services

Mombasa residents access water through the main utility, the Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company, MOWASCO during normal times Mombasa residents access water services during scarcity. Both poor and non poor Mombasa residents report regular experiences of water scarcity from mains and kiosks. To cope, usage of kiosks by poor residents drops from 72% to 23% and citizens move to vendors from 5% usage to 34%. There is high reliance on alternative self supply amongst the poor and non poor in Mombasa. Residents supplement supply largely through protected wells. Some reliance is also on rain water, unprotected sources during normal times and increasing during times of scarcity. The service and distribution level to Mombasa residents is dominated at 70% by small scale redistributors. Most citizens access their water through kiosks and vendors. Only 27%, mostly the non poor have access to direct mains water in and around the home. The wide majority at over 70% of both the poor and non poor obtains their water via kiosks away from home. 65% of households report that adult women faced the responsibility to fetch water from sources away from home for domestic use. Furthermore with both men and women, collecting water away from home was encumbered by long queues, queue jumping, heckling and quarreling.

Based on citizen responses, certain access and reliability benchmarks set by the Water Services Regulatory Board are not achieved by the government appointed service agency for Mombasa city. Notably there is failure to achieve the benchmarks for hours of supply for those connected to mains. Disaggregating the results by levels of service shows that the benchmark is not achieved if access through kiosks is not included. Monitoring the benchmarks during various months in the year, reveals that the benchmark is not achieved during months of scarcity. Reliability of mains water is low and only 48% of all the mains users in Mombasa, reported having received water seven days a week during normal times.

During scarcity, most mains users in Mombasa reported getting water only three days a week. Hours of service are half of what is expected; out of a possible maximum of 168 hours of supply in a week, Mombasa citizens reported obtaining only 85 hours during normal times, dropping to 72 hours during scarcity. Furthermore 32% of those a directly connected to mains reported interruptions of 24 hours. 21% of the poor and 55% of the non poor have invested in storage tanks as a coping measure with capacities ranging from between 1,000 liters and 3,000 liters. The average storage for the poor is 4,380 liters whilst that of the non poor is 8,220 liters. 89% - 90% of residents rate the taste, smell and color of water acceptable during normal times however during scarcity acceptability of taste, smell and color drops to between 68% to 69%.

Despite reported high acceptability, 79% of Mombasa residents self treat mains water before drinking it using a range of shelf chemicals. Only 36% of those directly connected (reported at 27% of Mombasa residents) interacted with MOWASCO over the past year. Under 20% had received communication on service interruptions. 10% of those directly connected reported having been engaged in bribery with MOWASCO staff in accessing water services. Less than half, i.e. 43% reported satisfaction with their last interaction with MOWASCO staff regarding quality of customer service Bills are received monthly by 73% of Mombasa< residents Mombasa residents’ pay the bulk of their water costs to middle men.

The majority of residents are paying more per cubic meter than the minority 27% with direct mains connections. The latter are charged using the official tariff schedule which is significantly cheaper per cubic meter than kiosk and vendor services. The survey reveals hidden costs associated with household investment in storage tanks, water treatment and time spent accessing water outside of home through kiosks.


In order for the city of Mombasa to enjoy efficient and effective supply of water and improvement in the sanitation and solid waste services, we ask the Municipal Council of Mombasa to do the following:-


Review of Policies that affect the citizens e.g. one of the policy does not recognize latrines etc. Has the review been done? Are the citizens aware of any policy review process? Boreholes are being dug in the city and at times near septic tanks, is the Municipal Council’s Policy on this being adhered to? How does the council monitor the borehole digging yet this is not allowed in the policy?

Garbage collection – How is the garbage collected?

Is it treated? Private companies are doing garbage collection in most estates in Mombasa city, where are they dumping whatever they collect. Does the Municipal Council work closely with the private company to make sure uniform garbage collection is taking place in the whole city?

Municipal Council’s Garbage Fleet – There was a plan to buy 3 trucks with LATF money, has this been done? 24 hour shifts were to be introduced in garbage collection sector because of limited trucks, is this what is currently on the ground?

Public health officers – due to few officers has the municipal taken the initiative to use the retired officers to train the community on matters touching public health to ensure environmental safety? Public Health department are in charge of chlorinating wells in the city – Is this practice taking place? If yes, when were the wells lastly chlorinated?


Municipal Council’s house tenants pay full rent but they don’t get services like drainage of septic tanks which is the mandate of the Municipal yet they are charged sewerage fee in the water bills. What are the plans to cater for this issue which is affecting the consumers? Mombasa city get water bills yet no water in their taps – Why? Its been noted in Tudor that there is improvement of water supply but there is variation in the quality of the water, Monday, Wednesday and Friday clean water is supplied and on the rest of days the same pipes channels in salty water. Why this variation? How safe is the water? People/households near water kiosks do not get water yet Kiosks supply does flow continuously are the pipes different? Is water kiosk part of the supply plan?

Desalination would be a solution to the water problem in Mombasa and Coast as a whole, what does the company think of this process?


Citizens were informed of plans to rehabilitate water pumps and digging or putting in place new water pipes, what is the current position? What is the board doing to improve water supply in Mombasa. The board collects revenue in selling of the water to the water companies, how is this revenue spent? Civil Society Organization is represented in the Board of Directors of the Water Company, who seconded the person in the company?

There are three sewage treatment plants in Mombasa, what are their conditions? Are they working? Service Provision Contract, between the Board and Water Company – Is it known to the public?

Compliance of the contract Complaints Board – There is customer care component within the board, are the consumers aware of how to go about their water complains?



With Kind Regards
Phyllis Muema
website: http//

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Re: Your url...

Dear Maria,

Thank you very much for your reply to my email and yes, I will subscribe to your newsletter to keep up to date. I'm also sending this to my usual recipients who also receive my 'reminders', every week.

I really appreciate your response. Thank you.


tapproject wrote on 24-Mar-08 10:02 PM:

Dear Raziya,

Thank you for your interest in the Tap Project. Your note is particularly appreciated and I want you to know that we at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF are doing our best to bring awareness to this issue and work towards a goal to make sure that everyone in this world gets access to clean water and sanitation.

The Tap Project began as a pilot last year in New York City on World Water Day, where over 300 restaurants participated and we were able to raise $100,000, which went towards water and sanitation programs UNICEF headquarters deemed most in need. Those countries were Iraq, Angola and Laos. This year, with the success of the program, we expanded nationally and to Canada. As this is our first year going national, we are learning to figure out the best way to allocate our limited resources to get the maximum impact for the program, bringing awareness to this critical global issue, and focusing on raising funds to allow UNICEF to provide communities with the proper tools and access for clean water and proper sanitation.

Please note that we plan on expanding the program globally in the coming years, so please keep up to date with all that's happening with the Tap Project by signing up for our newsletter on

As you can imagine, any new initiative will take time to expand, and we sincerely hope to make this program global in the near future. We are also dedicated to making this program function properly and to reach as many people as we can in a way that is economical but also maintains integrity and proper execution of the program. In other words, we want to get this right, find the best model that enable UNICEF to use the maximum amount of funds we can raise.

Thank you again for your passionate note and we hope to bring you some good news in the near future. Please keep apprised on what is going on with the Tap Project by subscribing to our newsletter on the homepage of

On behalf of the world's children,

Tap Project Team

From: Raziya
Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2008 4:07 AM
To: tapproject
Subject: Your url...
Importance: High


I'm from Mombasa, Kenya and we, at the Coast suffer from a severe water problem which our various water bodies including the Ministry is doing little about. I've suggested Desalination to them via a petition in 2006 (nearly 2 years, now), where I got over 900 signatures over a period of a month, but, everybody who received a copy of that petition have completely ignored it, to date.

This includes the Minister, his Permanent Secretary, UN-Habitat, WorldBank, KARA, our local authorities (Municipal Council), Coast Water Services Board, Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company, ConsumerFirst Network and the major media houses. Not one of them have even acknowledged it!

I've got all this posted at my blog (url in my signature line, below), as I either EMSed the petition to the Nairobi addresses or hand delivered them in person to the various offices in Mombasa collecting signatures and stamps from the recipients.

I also write 'reminders' every week (which are also posted on my blog), and am currently in my 158th reminder!

So, when a friend sent me your url and saw that you're having a tap project with participating restaurants, I noticed that this only includes the USA and Canada, but, nowhere else. How come?


Saudi Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continues

This is very disturbing news... Is there no end to their intolerance?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Saudi Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continues
Date: 24 Mar :01:
From: Alislam | Press Release
Organization: Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.

International Press and Media Desk.
22 Deer Park, London, SW19 3TL.
Tel / Fax . Mobile Email:
24 March 2008


A recent report highlighted the continued persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
in Saudi Arabia (i). The report stated that the Saudi Government was trying to modernise
its Education System by issuing new school textbooks, however these continued to describe
members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as 'heretical'.

Thus the systematic and institutionalised persecution continues. It is most unfortunate that the Saudi Government,
which calls itself an Islamic Government, in fact acts in the most un-Islamic way. The Holy
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself taught that no one had the right to call
another person a non-Muslim if that person counted himself as such. And yet in their most
basic literature the Saudi Government contravene this fundamental teaching by virtue of its
policy of religious exclusion.

Abid Khan, the Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said: "It is very
disappointing that the Saudi authorities continue to class the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
as heretical. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only sect of Islam which can truthfully
lay claim to practising and preaching the true message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) which was one of peace, inclusion and forbearance."

Ahmadi Muslims have continued to suffer great persecution in Saudi Arabia for many years.
This persecution intensified in late 2005 and early 2006 when the Saudi authorities
embarked upon a nationwide campaign to arrest and deport Ahmadis for no reason other than
their faith. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch said:
"The Saudi Government's persecution of Ahmadis on the basis of their faith is turning Saudi
Arabia into a byword for religious intolerance." (ii) It is hoped that the Saudi authorities
bring an end to the overt and covert persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and
allow peoples of all faiths to co-exist peacefully as per the true teachings of Islam.

End of Release

Further Information: Abid Khan Press Secretary
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (UK) )

i) Yemen Times 19 March 2008.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The 158th reminder.... to the PERSON/S CONCERNED

I really have no idea why we still don't get water. And no investigation has been done about why, while we still have meters, the water, doesn't pass through. Hence, my calling it 'phantom', like the bills that we rec'v every month without fail!

Recently, the media reported that the Water (dis)Services Board is putting down a new pipeline from Mzima Springs directly to Mombasa and that it will take about 3 years to do this. But, this is no big news. They have been singing this song since the launch of the CRCs last year in May. Then, one of their spokesperson, a Mr. Kai, confused issues later, after 6 months during the follow up that the Water Consortium held at Town Hall with the Council and other service providers in the Water and Sanitation sector. He told us that it will take 5 years!

What mathematical geniuses we have at the Water Board! Either way, how does this translate into us, residents getting this precious and life-giving commodity? What are we supposed to survive on in the interim period?

Remember, what I've previously written about the water kiosks and the bore-holes/wells. These, are extremely profitable businesses that very questionable people are minting money with. Who is benefiting? I strongly suspect some of the employees in the water sector....., including and especially the Board, too. How much money is being lost in revenue? Because, just yesterday, I was told by another newly arrived resident of Mombasa that he had got his water meter disconnected as there was no point in keeping the offending thing around! Let me assure him that he will still be getting his bills without fail unlike the water, every month!

Therefore, can the bloated water board and company, please investigate why we're not getting a drop of water through our pipes while others down this hill, are?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Matatu menace....

There is one very simple and possible solution to our very pathetic public transportation.

This is to phase out all 14 seater vans as well as the medium sized ones and have the many stakeholders including the government, invest in proper big buses. Some decades ago, Hungary had sent a couple of these buses which did the rounds in our major cities and towns 'advertising' their advantages, i.e. carrying many passengers while not clogging our streets, very efficiently.

In fact, these kinds of buses are in operation nowadays all over the developed world for specifically to address similar issues such as ours. So, why try to re-invent the wheel?

Please, get rid of all these little monsters and invest in proper organized public transportation which will even encourage the car using public to NOT use their cars and further unclog our roads.

Of course, the drivers and conductors of these buses will have to be re-trained on how to drive lawfully and with courtesy on our roads and treat the passengers as kings, queens, princesses and princes! The present species are some of the most horrific and creepy creatures around.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Noisy weddings..

I cannot understand the organizers of these functions. They hire the Mombasa Women's Hall which is right next to Aga Khan Hospital and within hearing distance of another, Pandya Hospital, too, and then, play music at ear-splitting volumes!

Unfortunately, most of this species, belongs to the Muslim community and they carry on and on till the last possible time of 11.00 pm. Sometimes they carry on till morning!

As I write this, and it's past 9.30 pm, there is one such wedding going on there and despite the police going there to tell them to reduce the volume, it has had no effect. In fact, instead of reducing, they have increased the volume as if in defiance.

I wish, that some of these merry makers will suddenly pass out there and end up as patients at one of the two hospitals, preferably, Aga Khan and that too, in their I.C.U. section which happens to be right next to this hall. Then lets see how they enjoy their noise!

Then, tomorrow is a working day. How are these merry makers going to be going to work (if they even do so), and be productive? No wonder we have sleepy and don't care people out there with whom the public has to deal.

These people are some of the most uncivilized and selfish in the extreme. Considering they are supposed to be so-called Muslims, where in their religion are they allowed to first, hold such lavish weddings, two, have music in them and three, also have it so loud that it should disturb others some of whom are very sick people in the neighbourhood not to mention children and the elderly.

While they will shout and yell from the rooftops claiming to be the followers of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and they also celebrate his birthday during this month, it's so strange that they display not an ounce of his teachings in their behaviour. For, he would not have approved of ANY of their strange practices nowadays.

If only these so-called Muslims would, instead of celebrating this August man's (pbuh), birthday, remember what he stood for and remind themselves about his teachings, it would be better for them... No wonder that they are some of the most despicable and awful creatures on earth because, they have quit doing this.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Subscribers BEWARE!!!!

Countrywide, Kenyans and others, of late have been experiencing unplanned outages and fluctuations with their electricity services.

When one reads the newspapers and are being informed that KPLC has recently connected their millionth customer, it makes me wonder what kind of service these people are in for. Some of the shoddiest, most likely and they will be spending quite a time in darkness or getting frustrated when many of their electrical appliances (especially the expensive ones!), start packing up on them due to these people's horrible 'service'.

So what if they've connected the millionth or more customer. Do they believe in quantity or quality? They are just trying to impress the public, yet, they have very little to show for how efficient they are. One example being that this area, like many others, hardly ever spends any given 24 hours without an outage or a surge/fluctuation in our power delivery. Why this is so, is quite a mystery. Can somebody enlighten us, please?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Incessant NOISE!!!!

Last night at around 8.15 pm when the neighbourhood mosque had just finished it's noisy prayers, another neighbour who has a terrace on the rooftop, suddenly started playing the Holy Qur'an on their huge speakers! This was being done with complete disregard for the rest of the neighbourhood, all of which is not of the Muslim faith. This is not the first time, either that this place has organized loud functions. And even if they were, e.g. this writer is one, it is very offensive to disturb and forcefully make others listen to our holy scriptures, as we too would not like to be forced to listen to others'.

One of these examples is the neighbourhood church right next to the Aga Khan Hospital (ironically), which is constantly disturbing the peace every single working day during the lunch hours. There is loud music and lamenting going on there.

While this is going on, the neighbourhood contentious mosque then, gives it's call to prayer which, while legitimate, leading of prayers so loud that they are heard outside it, is not. But, this Imam like many others seems to be incapable of understanding this difference. That it is not valid to follow prayers outside the mosque and therefore, he has no valid reason to be heard outside. The way he is leading them at present, one would be forgiven for thinking that he was not really leading the whole estate in prayers but only the ones in his small mosque!

As this month Muslims will be celebrating without consensus of opinion, the Holy Prophet's (pbuh), birthday, I wonder how many of these people will actually be following his teachings?! Like this neighbour of ours, yesterday, who couldn't have cared less for the disturbance to the rest of the neighbourhood as this racket, yes, I will call it that, carried on till 11.00 pm! Did any of these people give a thought to the august person's teachings whose birthday they were purportedly celebrating? He would have been totally against what they were practicing!

Then, I've noticed that the more people give the impression that they are 'religious', their actions belie their beliefs. One example being the recent and on going tribalistic warmongering. Shouldn't our religious leanings have led us to more peaceful options?

And why do we have to force others to listen to our religious 'services'? Are we just trying to make a show to people about how religious we are? According to Islam this is not acceptable to Allah! For those Muslims, who are going to be offended by this email, please, refer to the Holy Qur'an and the Seerah of the Holy Prophet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The 157th reminder.... to the PERSON/S CONCERNED


I got a very interesting response to my 155th reminder from one of my many recipients. I'll include that response in this reminder for what is being suggested and I personally and wholeheartedly agree with it. And I am sure that there will be many others who will, too.

There is still no water either, of course....

Chris Dickenson wrote on 27-Feb-08 8:27 PM:

Hello Raziya;

Your last sentence is the most pertinent 'Payment by results' only.

I would also add the following to each employees contract/ terms of employment. All allowable out of pocket expenses must be paid initially by the employee and claimed against receipt so that it can be checked and verified before reimbursement is made. Allow up to 28 days before reimbursement can be made. All other expenses to be paid by employee and will not be reimbursed.

Chris D

The above was in response to all these allowances (including and especially sitting), that these people claim. Thereby, all our (tax payers), money goes to naught!

Not in improving the water delivery, but, literally down the drain....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My latest 'adventures'....

I've just returned from our GPO after trying to get a phone number of MEDIVET PRODUCTS LTD via the available box number that one of their products, Calamine Lotion displays on the label. Unfortunately, they have not included the postal code of their Nairobi address - 47951.

I thought, after making various enquiries to a couple of pharmacies here as well as consulting the directories including the yellow pages and getting nowhere, that following another clue, the box number, on the label would bear fruit. Hence, my trip to the post office this afternoon.

In fact, knowing that our GPO is totally disabled unfriendly, I first tried ringing the Regional Manager's (RM), office whose secretary sounded all at sea about what I wanted and then left me holding on without explaining why.

But, I still am desperately trying to get this information and decided to brave the awful stairs (their public elevators are hardly ever working and today was one such day), to the Head Postmaster's office which is on the Mezzanine floor. This Head Postmaster, Mr. Taib, is anything but helpful and said he couldn't help. So, then I used the staff elevator from this floor to get to the 8th floor where Posta's administration offices are.

There, my first stop was the RM's office and I was immediately shown in by his secretary. But, once I explained the purpose of my visit, he tried to get this information from the GPO in Nairobi but got nowhere. He also told me that as the address did not have a postal code it was something next to impossible to locate it and even if this was done it would be unethical to let me have their phone number! Doesn't matter that this is a business address, etc.

Now, to digress a bit. Doesn't our Posta have a data base? And the little that I know of computers and what they are capable of doing, this is a company address and hence, should be having a phone number. How does it do business, otherwise? And it's not a new company either. It's a few years old, at least, if not longer. They are probably using old labelling and that's why it does not have the postal code displayed. Also, why doesn't Posta have a current directory for it's customers?

Now, to get back to my misadventures... Getting no information from this office, I tried going to a couple of others - at one, the person had left for the day and at another, she couldn't help me either, but, at least she took my number down and promised that she would pass it on to the person at whose office I'd bounced earlier.

I then had to use the same elevator to get to the Mezzanine floor walk all the way down the length of the corridor and down the staircase! On the way out I decided to check my mailbox and I found a lone notification informing me of a parcel awaiting me at the parcels office.

Now, this parcels office is terrible! Despite having complained about the inaccessibility of it by the old and/or disabled, our Posta, over the years has done absolutely nothing to make it better. The steps are too high and there are no grab bars either for people using crutches or stick to use. Forget about wheelchair users. It seems that our Posta doesn't have nor would encourage such clients to use it's 'services'!

In fact, I was told as such by Mr. Taib, when I got fed up of waiting for somebody to help me get my parcel. He told me that he too, was equally fed up of me! In the end when one of the staff (I have no idea who she was or her name), who had taken off with my notification, didn't show up for over 15 minutes, I'd had enough and left. Now, I have no idea how to get my parcel without this notification, etc.

And all this happened, because our GPO is totally handicapped unfriendly and does not care for having such clients either, it seems.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The 156th reminder.... to the PERSON/S CONCERNED

Another waterless week goes by and hence these continued 'reminders'....

While we don't get any water, how is it that the many water kiosks, do? And what is the criteria for starting one? In an urban setting like the 'city' of Mombasa? Why is the Ministry and the many water 'bodies' responsible for providing this 'service' treating this major town (I won't call it a city anymore as that would mean that ALL services would be provided, promptly, including water to the residents), like a village? Because, if it really was a 'CITY', essential services like water would be a priority in everybody's vision. This is NOT the case, unfortunately! We still have to buy our water like in villages or rural settings, from water vendors or if we have enough money, then to hell with the environmental impact, and we dig boreholes and wells meters from each other, near pit latrines, septic tanks, etc. Forget about the advice of keeping a kilometer's radius of an existing one.

People in Mombasa and Coast Province at large are getting very desperate. This does not have to be the case, if the powers that be would just stop thinking (if they even do that!), about getting it from the current sources. These, are liable to dry up when you think about global warming. We at the Coast, do not have to suffer the consequences, if, these decision (do they really even think?!), makers would think about providing essential services (instead of their capacious and selfish pockets), a few years in the future.

These wells and boreholes are going to dry up and/or get contaminated (some of them already, are), with sea water and some with.....sewage! After all sea levels are rising every year. An example is Mambrui whose residents have to keep moving further inland every year due to the ocean reclaiming the land.

And now back to these water kiosks - whom do they belong to? That is, who benefits from the revenue collected? I suspect that employees of the many water bodies are the real beneficiaries of this. Can somebody please investigate? And if in the process, my suspicions turn out to be correct, the next thing that is liable to happen is to close down these kiosks, I suppose! But, would the officials concerned please, also make sure that we get water before closing these things down?! Otherwise what would be the sense of doing this when we still don't get water?

Some of us don't want to buy suspect borehole or well water from these various water vendors. Please, keep this in mind.