A Reactive Government in the Face of Proactive Adversities

From an almost two-month-old doctor’s strike, a leaking airport, a flooded nation, and a midnight memo-sending cabinet, Kenyans are seeing a leadership fabric that always seems to be two steps behind and playing catch-up, even at the expense of Kenyan lives.

The doctors have been on strike for more than 45 days, with no apparent solution from the government on the brink. 

Was this strike avoidable? 

The doctors’ strike stems from unrequited promises from a collective bargaining agreement agreed upon by the government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) in 2017. In the last seven years, doctors have been pushing for the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in futility. The CBA signed in 2017 was a consequence of another doctor’s strike that had lasted for 100 days. Given that a CBA is reviewed every four years, doctors shared a CBA with employers at the national and county levels in 2021, but no negotiations were initiated or carried out. This led to sectoral unrest as doctors felt that the government had not prioritised health care and as the demands of healthcare workers were not being met.

Some of the doctors’ grievances include a lack of comprehensive health insurance, delayed posting of medical interns, harsh proposals to reduce the interns' salaries by close to 80%, a shortage of staff in hospitals, and a lack of staffing standards and norms. All these were problems that would have been solved had the government implemented the CBA, or at the very least negotiated with the doctors prior, to avoid a strike. On the flipside, we have the government taking a hard stance and cabinet secretaries making detrimental remarks, as Kenyans lose their loved ones in hospitals.

On 29/04/2024, Kenyans woke up to the news that the Education Cabinet Secretary, Ezekiel Machogu had issued a notice postponing the opening of schools to 6th May 2024. 29/04/2024 was supposed to be the opening date for schools across the country. The notice was issued at 1:20 am. Whilst this move may have been justified in the past when there was little to no data on weather patterns, this late call was made in a time and day where there is more than enough data from the meteorological department, and when it had been raining for more than ten days continuously, with floods already wreaking havoc in some parts of the country? Would the situation and the resulting inconvenience and confusion have been avoided?

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the biggest and inarguably the most important airport in Kenya and its contribution to the different facets of the economy cannot be overemphasised. The airport however, like any other infrastructure, has over the years been a victim to wears and tear. This has led to a number of issues including leakages at different parts of the airport. The roof leaks should have been enough sign to initiate the requisite repairs and overhauls of some infrastructural systems in the airport. However, it had to wait until the airport has been ravaged by floods and power blackouts – highlighted by Larry Madowo, a journalist before any concrete action could be initiated. This situation has obviously led to disruptions at the airport and heavy losses which could have altogether been avoided. 

How long until the government reacts to another avoidable disaster? How long until the government issues antibiotics in the place of vaccines? Will the dry season that follows the rains in Kenya catch the government flat-footed like it has done in previous years? Because experience is a great teacher only when lessons are applied with integrity and accountability. 

Posted by Loise Mwakamba on May 6, 2024

Categories:  kia   doctors strike   flooding situation in Kenya



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