Kenya is said to be a hot bed of corruption, but this was just hearsay to me, till I dealt with the County Government of Kajiado. In my naivety to secure an approval for a construction plan, I approached officers at the County, who perhaps saw a cash cow in me.
The officers, who did not reveal their names, took me through the process of securing an approval, but asked for the payment to be made in cash. Upon their inquiry, my senses were as alert as a bird, I restrained from providing the cash, which of course I was struggling to obtain.
From the little sense of investigation that I have acquired throughout my career life, I had to go on a fact-finding spree, since I have acquaintances at the Kajiado County Government. To be precise, I had been asked to pay Ksh.80, 000 for a county approval in cash rather than through a till number or bank account. Well, let me bring you up to speed on the fact that Kajiado is a hot bed of corruption, given the number of real estate premises cropping up in the area.
The purported Ksh. 80, 000, I am told by the real County Government officials, would have sublimed into people’s pockets, and I wouldn’t have gotten my approval had I taken that route of a cash payment. Let me just say that now I know better, I can tutor someone on the process of acquiring a County Approval for construction purposes.
As if that experience was not enough, Kajiado County officials, who again did not reveal their names, visited my construction site and demanded a token, even after being shown the approved plans. They said, “Just oil our hands so that we don’t disturb you anymore. I will take less than 5, 000, my boss will take more.” I remember how broke I was on this particular day. After a harrowing experience of harassment, I parted with Ksh. 3, 000 instead and felt so sick in the stomach that I could not help myself. I had a gut feeling that so many residents of the county had suffered the same fate, without any help from the said Kajiado County Government.
I believe there could be a change if a crackdown is done in the area to ward off such money hungry officers who deter the President’s goal of curbing corruption in Kenya. Then there are policemen who place a road block only at night from 7 pm along Namanga road, KAG University. They have since moved yonder, to Ola Petrol Station along the same road. I always quip at the thought of how much money they pocket per day. It could be hundreds of thousands. My driver, for instance, in a span of one week, paid them 8, 000, which he did not have, when they insisted on taking him to the police station, over a broken motor vehicle window. I on the other hand have watched every truck cruising the route from Tanzania, being stopped to give something small to the policemen. Note that majority of vehicles stopped are PSV vehicles.
Well, I am helpless in this mess of corruption but I have always felt that I can stop it, if we join hands as Kenyans, we can even completely stop it and Kenya will be a better place. It however takes a lot of guts to defy the culture that has been in existence for decades.