Kenya: County Bosses’ Push for Travel Curbs Ill-Advised

The fresh push by governors for travel restrictions during the Christmas period ostensibly to contain the spread of Covid-19 is ill-advised.

The disease has spread across the counties and, therefore, it is pretentious to contemplate blocking movements in the guise of containing it. The way forward is to enforce personal safety protocols rather than punitive measures.

Since the first case was detected in March, the country has gone through traumatic experiences. Lockdown of counties and the night curfew dealt a severe blow to businesses and the consequence was job losses and diminished revenues. The economy shrank and recovery will take long.

The economy has started recovering and new restrictions can only slow down the process and deepen suffering.

Covid-19 has severely constrained the health system and, since this is a devolved function, governors are rightly concerned that increased infections would bring down the sector. But the problem is not travel, but failure to observe the rules.

Several months ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed counties to put up at least 300 beds to manage Covid-19 patients. Not all counties have done that. Medical personnel are badly treated, undermining proper healthcare services.

Schools and other learning institutions are set to reopen early in January, which means a lot of inter-county travels. Parents and teachers have to make early preparations for the reopening and that cannot happen with travel restrictions.

Covid-19 is with us and the challenge is to live with it. Short-term prescriptions are not tenable. Citizens should observe the safety protocols and avoid unnecessary travel during Christmas and New Year to minimise infections.

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