Sometime ago, Alfred Mutua did something that I totally agreed with. (Ironically his superiors really tore him a new one for doing so). Just before the Cross Country championships were to be held in Mombasa, he toured the area, went on a little power trip and had contractors arrested for "doing shoddy work"
The contactors were doing the area roads and when Mutua toured the place, he found newly 'repaired' roads had already developed potholes. He (quite rightly I think) had the contractors arrested and I remember him asking whether there was no rain in other parts of the world since in many other places roads don't spontaneously disappear at the first hint of precipitation.
Well, as I write this, I am sitting in the dark due to one of the recently frequent power failures my neighbourhood has experienced since the start of the rainy season. I have heard the same complaint from numerous other people.
Kenya has an agriculture based economy. One that is almost entirely reliant on rainfall. When rains fail we face rising food prices, rising inflation and even starvation in certain areas.
However it would seem that as far as rain is concerned we are screwed if it fails, screwed if it falls. Because rain invariably means that our infrastructure falls apart. Roads that had been tarmaced develop potholes, electricity supply that had become relatively reliable suddenly becomes erratic.
So the arrival of rain means that the cost of transporting produce will rise, because when the roads fall apart, transporters will have to raise prices to pay for repairs. When the electricity supply becomes erratic, industries will either stop work or have to invest in generators. The net positives that come from rain outweigh the negatives but it seems like a two steps forward, one step back sort of scenario.
If we are ever to start on the path to real development, I think the first step has to be to break out of this cycle.
In this article, Sunny Bindra speaks about how peculiar it is that Kenyan roads are recarpeted so often and more importantly how peculiar it is that Kenyans think this is a good thing. I have previously written about how I think 'road building' just might be the biggest scam in Kenya and because we spend gazillions doing and redoing our roads.
We desperately need to build roads that last, so that we can funnel the funds being used to recarpet and re-recarpet our roads to other areas of development and to increasing our road network (which embarrassingly is basically what it was at independence). We need our electricity supply to be totally reliable so that we can go about being productive without having to invest in generators.
I realize I have not even mentioned flooding and it's effects in this post.....