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With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many companies were hard hit by the socio-economic conditions that were brought about by the strict government measures aimed at curbing the spread of this disease.
Many of them closed down and laid down their workforce or reduced their production.
Thika Cloths Mills, a major player in the textile industry in the country, was among the companies which felt the heat of these drastic measures.
The lockdowns and shutting of all learning institutions, impacted negatively to the factory forcing it to close down.
However, the management through local arrangement with the workers representatives have been paying the workers half-pay while at home.
Though the company can employ more than 2,000 workers, it is yet to open up fully.
Before COVID-19, it had employed 700 workers and supporting over 500 cotton farmers in Ndalani. There is a ray of hope however after the government came up with some recovery plan in order to save investors.
Thika Cloth Mills has now been awarded a tender to manufacture clothing materials for Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) among others.
TCM CEO Tejal Dhodhia has thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for keeping his word and putting much consideration on the manufacturing especially at this time of COVID-19.
She challenged other Kenyans to take advantage of government programmes especially in line with the Big 4 Agenda where manufacturing and industrialization was one of the key pillars of Uhuru’s legacy.
She said the factory was also making materials for Kitui governor Charity Ngilu’s KICOTEC factory that has been contracted by the government to make masks for schools and uniforms for Chiefs and their assistants.
“We were severely hit by this pandemic and were wondering on what we would do to our cotton farmers whom we have been supporting from Ndalani in Machakos, Kitui and other parts of the country because they have a bumper harvest and we are supposed to go and buy the cotton with Kitui Ginery this month”. Said Tejal.
She is optimistic that things will return back to normalcy and especially during this time when the president is expected to open the economy next week.
The “Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative has also been supported by Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina who has tabled a bill in Parliament in a bid to discourage unfair importation of goods from China and other parts of the world a bill he says has taken shape after he recently gave the minister for Industrialization a list of over 3000 items he wants importation ceased.
Wainaina described these importation as a major threat to the local economy adding that it was one of the main contributor of the wanton unemployment crisis in the country.
He said he fully supported Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta Big 4 Agenda saying it is the only software to assure economic stability in the country.

Thika MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina (left) and Thika West DCC Douglas Mutai presenting a cheque to one of the beneficiaries.

45 small business groups drawn from the various wards within Thika Town Constituency on Friday got a major boost when they received cheques amounting to KES. 4.8 million from UWEZO Fund.

The entities who included bodaboda operators, Jua Kali artisans and poultry farmers received the cash following rigorous training on prudent financial management.

While distributing the cheques, area MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina described small business enterprises as the growers of any economy since they created value at the lowest cadre of the community cadre.

He urged the youth, women and persons living with disability to take the advantage of such interest free loans to better their livelihoods. He also urged upcoming entrepreneurs to source for financing from other financial institutions in order to supplement whatever money they had as seed capital.

He lauded the government for banning importation of various locally manufactured goods thereby helping Kenyans to buy and build Kenyan products.

Through capacity building, Wainaina stated that Kenyans have continued to display great potential in technological discovery of societal solutions most needed in the country.

Some of the beneficiaries narrated how their businesses had been hit hard by the socio-economic times since the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.

They said that measures set to beat the spread of COVID-19 had resulted to an increase in operating expenses for businesses pushing majority of micro and small businesses, particularly those in the service industry to the blink of collapse.


I was informed by Wakapogy our "Boy's Club" defacto leader to immediately convene the "boy's club meeting the following day at our assembly point at 'Kingstone Base'. There was an urgent disciplinary matter that needed to be discussed and as the 'chief whip I complied. 

Without being geniuses we knew what the matter was, Ngimwa also known as Mwangi had had an altercation with Wakapogi and from the rumours we had heard, it didn't go well. It was Wakapogi who had invited Ngimwa into the "gedesh'. 

I was with Iddi when wakapogi gave me the instructions, so without wasting time we started with Daddy and informed him of the meeting, the time and the place. Next we went to Wamasha and he was informed. 

We went round Majengo selectively inviting only members of our "gedesh" (squad) and those who believed in our ideals. When we arrived at kina Chaao's place we noticed his mum outside, so we pretended that we were only passing through to the other side. The good thing with Majengo those days was that you could enter and exit anywhere. There were no gates or fences. 

Unfortunately she had noticed us and without naming names she said that she had seen some 'daimonos' around who were out to 'spoil' his son. We did not need a dictionary to understand that those 'daimonos' being mentioned were us. So we took big steps faster (kukanyaga kubwa kubwa haraka upesi). 

Chaao was critical to this meeting and we had to devise a way of getting him out of the house,  so we tried our secret whistle and also our unique laugh. But none worked. So Iddi came up with his ingenious idea of throwing stones on their roof. And he did throw the stone. You see sometimes the devil just waits for you to do an innocent act for him to make you his friend. 

The stone did hit the roof, but it missed Chaao's mum by a whisker. Silence followed then all hell broke loose she appeared carrying a broom and the stone we had thrown and spoke words that we could not hear and understand since they were a mixture of various Kenyan languages to the effect that she had no problem dispatching us to our maker, but most importantly because we were running for our dear lives. 

We assembled at the 'kingstone base' the following day to hear what the issue was about our defacto leader arrived, accompanied with Daddy and we were told that we should not associate with 'Ngimwa' and that he was no longer a member of our 'gedesh'. 

Chaao joined us later and was briefed on the proceedings. Since no one had any hunting, fishing plans or any information about "raaru" (indian hot spicy food that we would eat at the Shree hindu Temple in Thika), we decided to 'relax' at the base after Wakapogi had left. 

Then Ngimwa appeared and asked me and Iddi to go with him that his mum had asked for us. We arrived at his home but his mum was nowhere to be seen, that's when he told us that they had cooked Chapatis and that his mum had said "ni za wageni" and had not counted. So he thought it wise to invite "wageni". We were glad that he had thought of us so highly and made us his 'special guests' out of the long list of people in the 'gedesh'. 

You see just incase you don't know it was written in the "chapati constitution and rules that were published before we were born, that as a mother once you finish cooking Chapatis you had to count how many they were. This was done for accountability purposes and to deal with those rascals like us who had a habit of taking more than others. 

For a majengo mother to have cooked chapatis and failed to count, while she has a "boyshaod" in the house, that was like the greatest crime and blunder of all time. 

We have no idea how many chapatis we had between the three of us, but we were still chewing and talking when we heard slaps and 'slippers za Red' landing on our heads and backs with Ngimwa's mum shouting things to the effect that the Chapatis were for her visitors who were to come for prayers.

Apparently she had reached Bismillahi and remembered that she had forgotten to count the chapatis and had decided to come back quickly. 

We were chased away with slippers following us as we took the nearest corner to disappear. We stopped at "barabara ya chini" to catch our breath, then Iddi pulled half a chapati from his pocket and started eating he had managed to hold on to it.

This kind of deceit of being invited as a 'special unwanted guest' has to stop. I now agree with Wakapogi our leader. Ngimwa has to go. Ngimwa must go!!! 

Juma Hemedi

A woman from landless estate in Thika town has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to heed to his promise to help her restart life after a family saga that turned her life to a beggar.

Mary Kamuguna is a mother of three who received the attention of the head of state during a December last year visit to Ruiru where he had come to open a Catholic Church with the president assuring her of support.

In a courageous move, the woman arose from her seat in the church and moved towards the President pleading for his help only to be blocked by the President’s security, a scuffle that caught the President’s attention.

The President told his bodyguards to let the woman reach out to him and was able to narrate her ordeal to the head of state, which touched the President.

He shared a phone number where the woman can reach him for help. However, after a few days, she lost her phone which contained the numbers, cutting communication.

This is after the President settled hospital bills for his son, who has been in hospital suffering from depression.

The woman claims to have been living a good life with his husband, bought land and constructed a house only to be divorced three years later.

After being reduced to nothing, life took a nasty twist as her 23 years old son went to depression and was admitted to various hospitals.

Her property was destroyed by the co-wife and her sisters and was chased out of her home. After which her elder brother accommodated her elsewhere since her brother could not afford to pay her rent.

She later moved to landless where she was sheltered and sympathized by James Njoroge who allowed her to live in an empty house in his plot as she takes care of his garden.

“We were blessed with a boy. We were doing well as we had bought a plot and were in the process of settling down only for him to inform me that he had another wife some years ago and were planning to get back together. He repossessed all what we had,” she said.

Every time the son visits his mother and finds her in the sorry state she lives in, the depression increases and he gets readmitted to seek medication.

She says the President claimed to not only clear the hospital bill but also fund her to restart life.

She has since lost the mobile phone that contains the contacts that the President gave him.

Her hope is the President would remember her and continue to support her to restart life again.

“If it were not for me losing my mobile phone, I would still be in contact and maybe would have received more help. He allowed me to meet him and has already helped settle the hospital bills of my depressed son. I hope he still remembers my ordeal and that he would support me,” she said.

Kamunga, at the moment does gardening of vegetables at a plot whose owner has allowed her to live in a cottage adjacent to the plot. The house she is living in is not habitable since cannot afford a decent living. She takes care of the garden and sells the produce for her boss.

She is now reminding the president to remember her since she is going through so much problems and doesn’t have money to treat the son who needs medication.

Three people have succumbed to the deadly COVID-19 in Thika within the last 48 hours.

On Tuesday, a 71-year old Kiboko estate was rushed to hospital and after a while succumbed. Test results later came out positive of COVID-19.

The second case is that of a 65-year old man from Kiganjo Muthaiga area who succumbed to the disease while undergoing treatment at Thika Level 5 Hospital. He will be buried today at their Matuu home in accordance to the Ministry of Health directives.

His wife has already tested positive and is undergoing treatment at the same hospital.

Last night a 64-year old from Kiandutu also died at the Thika Level 5 Hospital.

Information reaching our news desk indicate that the Thika Public Health Officials are busy making arrangements of how these people will be buried and later embark on a contact tracing exercise in all the affected areas.

There is also going to be fumigation in areas that they might have gotten into contact.

Residents are cautioned to strictly adhere to the guidelines set by the Health Ministry avoid contracting the disease. Anyone who thinks they got into any of these cases should seek for testing or visit any hospital.

However, there should not be any cause of alarm or any form of stigmisation as the disease is treatable and not necessarily a death sentence.

In yesterday press briefing by the Ministry of Health where 173 new COVID-19 cases were reported, Thika had registered 3 of them.

300 students who have been shortlisted for Safaricom Foundation’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme will begin online classes on 22nd June.
The Foundation has partnered with Zizi Afrique Foundation and ToolKit iSkills, a social enterprise organisation, to roll out a TVET programme with a focus on Plumbing, Welding, Food and Beverage and Electrical Engineering.
Over 70 students who do not have access to smartphones will receive free devices courtesy of Safaricom Foundation to enable them access eLearning materials as they await re-opening of learning institutions.
“We want to empower the students who have been shortlisted for the Safaricom Foundation TVET scholarship programme to commence learning even as we wait for this COVID-19 period to end. The students who have been enrolled for the programme have not been able to attend classes because of the partial lockdown and we want to enable them begin classes via online platforms”, Said Steve Chege, Trustee, Safaricom Foundation.
The programme that was launched in March will see an ICT enabled Skills Center set up in Nairobi’s Waithaka Vocational Training Centre and close to 1,000 students receive TVET scholarships over the next two years across various institutions.
“Through this scholarship programme, we want to reach some of the most vulnerable youth from across the country and give them access to training opportunities in employable areas, and increase transition to employment”, said Renaldah Mjomba from Zizi Afrique.
The first cohort consists of 100 students who will be based at the Waithaka Vocational Training Centre and another 200 who will be spread across 12 other institutions around the country.
An analysis by Higher Education Loans Board shows that employability is at 96% for people with Technical and Vocational Education and Training compared to 40% among those with a university degree. However, TVET participation remains low with enrolment standing at only 60%.

The brains behind the idea  — Donatus Njoroge, a biochemist and a lecturer at Mount Kenya University (MKU)
Three Kenyan researchers have developed a COVID-19 contact tracing system that track down all the persons that a patient has come into contact with in the last 14 days.
Donatus Njoroge who is a biochemist and a lecturer at Mount Kenya University (MKU), Gideon Kamau an IT expert and Jesse Gitaki who is a medical doctor developed the App dubbed ‘KoviTrace’ which has a back end system (a web-controlled portal for use by the administrator and a front end system which is an application that can be installed on Android phones or accessed via a USSD code by those without smart phones.
The App also provides users with an updated access to WHO’s frequently asked questions about the disease and a self-screening test that gauges the user’s vulnerability to the disease based on his or her previous interactions, behaviour and movements.
Not only can this technology be used by the Ministry of Health in tracing all persons that COVID-19 patients came into contact with, Kenyans can also use it to establish if they have been into contact with persons who have tested positive.
“Once an individual has tested positive, a Ministry of Health official will only be required to key in the patient's phone number onto the web portal and command it to trace all his contacts within the last 14 days instead of relying on his word of mouth,” explained Njoroge, the researcher behind the idea.
The system also sends an alert to all the persons that the patient came into contact with.
The alert, received in the form of a text message, also contains information on preventive measures, contacts of the nearest hospital and the emergency toll-free numbers of the respective county COVID-19 coordinator.
Njoroge points out that the system works for those who have installed the app in their phones or registered with the USSD code.
“It uses a geo-sensing technology that tracks the user’s location and time. The data is saved under a unique ID that is encrypted and cannot be accessed by other parties,” says Njoroge.
If Kenya certifies and adopts ‘KoviTrace’, it will rank among global economies that have established similar apps for use in taming the virus before reopening the economies.

The government has set aside Sh 1.7 billion for construction of roads within Thika Town Constituency.

Through Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) the government plans to spend Sh. 700 million for tarmacking and re-carpeting of various roads within the CBD including Commercial Street, Cross Road, General Kago, Haile Selassie, Harry Thuku, Kenyatta Highway, Kwame Nkurumah, Magoko, Bull and Mama Ngina.

Others are Stadium, Temple, Thika Girls, Uhuru Street, Upper Hill and Workshop.

Speaking after leading a team of Engineers from KeNHA and KURA, Engineer Chris Nzioka from department of planning at Kenya National Highway Authority said that there were plans to expand some roads within the town with a view to reducing traffic jams.

He added that they had done the site appreciation and were only awaiting survey and designing.
Speaking during the tour, area MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina acknowledged that the major road infrastructure upgrade would enhance movement within the town.

He added that the construction of the 18 Km Gatuanyaga-Munyu-Kang’oki road to bitumen standards would cost about Ksh. 1 billion.

This road will start at Gatuanyaga junction towards Munyu via Githima and exit at Kang’oki area. It will be the first tarmacked road in villages within Thika East region.

Thika West Sub-County hopes to get about 5,000 more slots in second phase of the "Kazi Mtaani" Programme that will be officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta next month.

The new recruits will join the 1,505 youth already working under the first phase of the initiative that was introduced by the government to help the youth mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed during a stakeholders' meeting on Wednesday that was co-chaired by the Thika West DCC Douglas Mutai and the area MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina.

The recruitment will be done across all the wards with very strict guidelines to ensure transparency and fairness in the selection process.

Speaking during the meeting, MP Wainaina acknowledged the sensitive nature of the exercise, as youth in virtually all the areas were very needy.

“This is a very emotive issue and must be handled with utmost care. Bwana DCC, I appreciate this gesture. Bringing all the stakeholders on board will ensure almost all needy cases benefit from this programme,” he said.

Wainaina promised to facilitate the committees involved in the identification and registration of the bonafide youth with the necessary logistics to ensure that everything went on smoothly. 

The DCC on his part explained that the process of registration would be done in three stages to ensure accountability and transparency in the whole exercise.

“At the grassroots, we will have the Nyumba Kumi Cluster Committee chaired by the cluster chairpersons. This will be the committee that vets all applicants to ensure that they belong to the said settlement,” explained Mutai.

He added that for any youth to be eligible for recruitment, they must produce their ID Cards and indicate the clusters they resided in.

“They should also clearly indicate the nature of skills they have as we are bound to expand the kind of jobs to be done to include skilled labour in the second phase,” he pointed out.

After this stage, the lists will be handed over to the Sub-Location Verification and Validation Committee chaired by the Assistant Chief whose responsibility would be to authenticate the list and verify the identities of those listed. Once that is done, the Assistant Chief will publicise the approved names on the Chief's notice board.

The DCC will then receive these lists and chair a Sub-County Verification and Validation Committee where the final list from all the sub-locations will be prepared. 

The MP and other area leaders are members in this committee but they all have representation in the previous two committees.

Present at the meeting were MCAs Andrew Kimani (Township) and Raphael Chege Waithumbi (Kamenu). Hospital Ward MCA was represented by his Personal Assistant Stephen Mugoro.

Others present included opinion leaders drawn from various interest groups such the Chairman Thika District Business Association (TDBA) Alfred Wanyoike, Madam Gladys Chania, Aboo Norein, Ward Admins representing the three wards, among others.

A Youth from Kiandutu enjoy a light moment with the guests led by PS State Department of Youth at Ministry of ICT, Innovation & Youth Julius Korir during a tour in Thika.
Youth working in the “Kazi Mtaani” Programme have been advised to form groups and take advantage of the numerous government programmes and opportunities to improve on their future.

Speaking on Tuesday while inspecting the work being done by the youth in Thika, Principal Secretary, State Department of Youth at Ministry of ICT, Innovation & Youth Julius Korir said that time was ripe for the youth to start seeking contracts from organisations such as the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) which had so much work to clear bushes along their roads.

Korir encouraged them to start saving for the future as this programmed would not last for long.

“View this opportunity that you have been given as a stepping stone to greater things. Learn to save what you are earning now and use the money as seed capital to start your own businesses,” he said.

The PS directed the area youth officers to create time to occasionally teach entrepreneurship skills to these youth to prepare them for life after the programme.

“Assist them to form these groups and how to get funding from UWEZO Fund, Youth Fund or AGAAF," Korir told the officers.

The PS was accompanied by the Central Region Youth Coordinator Francis Nderitu, the Chief Executive Officer  National Youth Council Roy Sasaka Telewa, the Secretary Youth Affairs, Raymond Ochieng, Kiambu Director for Youth affairs Jacinta Migwi, Thika West DCC Douglas Mutai among others.

Restaurant operators are instructed to:
- Have thermo-guns at the entrance of the premises to screen clients for temperature,
- Provide hand-washing stations and soap at the entrance for clients.
- Ensure that every client entering the establishment wears a face mask.
- Ensure that every client entering the establishment wears a face mask.
- All food handlers wear face masks.
- A Provision for social and physical distancing.
- All restaurant workers must be tested.

Equity’s Enterprise Branch Wings to Fly champion Joyce Wachira (left) demonstrates to guardian Richard Onguti (centre) and a beneficiary of Equity’s Wings to Fly scholarship program Khadija Addala (right), how the solar-powered lamp cum transistor radio is recharged using a solar panel.  Equity Group Foundation (EGF) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation has rolled out an initiative to ensure 14,600 Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship scholars continue with their education during the COVID-19 crises.
Equity Group has partnered with Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme to support over 14,600 students in the Wings to Fly and Elimu scholarship programmes to access education at home during the current COVID-19 lockdown. 

The programmed valued over Ksh. 200 million (USD $1.93 million) will see secondary school scholars being provided with a solar powered device to ensure continued access to their lessons currently being aired on Government-owned radio and TV stations. 

Additionally, each of the 13,800 secondary school students and 800 alumni of the Wings to Fly scholarship program currently in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will receive a monthly stipend for June through August to enable access to essential food and personal items.

“We wanted the Scholars to have an equal opportunity through continued access to their class lessons during this difficult stay-at-home period. With many of them coming from financially challenged backgrounds, access to a radio for purposes of following the classroom lessons was going to be a big challenge. Additionally, with the majority of the Scholars not having access to electricity, we opted for solar powered gadgets. We believe that the Scholars are now well-equipped to keep up to date with their lessons,” said Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings, and Executive Chairman of EGF.

The device contains a radio, and a mobile charging unit for cell phones as well as a lamp that can allow studying after dusk. 

Because each household contains 5-6 students, it is estimated the programme will reach 70,000 learners with curriculum as well as COVID-19 public health messages and advisories. 

EGF distributed the equipment through the Equity infrastructure of branches and its agency network across the country.

Daniel Hailu, Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation stated, “Advancing equitable and inclusive access to education remains a top priority for the Foundation. The impact of COVID-19 requires us to be intentional about how we ensure the pandemic doesn't exacerbate existing gaps in education. In fact, this is the opportunity to seek out and promote innovative technology-driven solutions to bridge emerging gaps and even leapfrog the capacity and quality of educational delivery across the continent.”

In addition to gaining the capacity to continue studying at home, student households will receive a stipend of Kshs 3,000 per Scholar per month for three months, that will contribute to household needs for food and other essentials. The stipends will also allow the beneficiaries to have airtime and data for mobile phone usage where possible.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all academic institutions in Kenya were closed indefinitely in March 2020 and delivery of the curriculum moved to broadcast channels and digital platforms. 

Many families faced the challenge of accessing lessons at home. 

For scholarship recipients in the Wings to Fly, TVET and Elimu programme in partnership with the Government of Kenya, this meant a return to households that could not provide access to learning. 

EGF moved to support learners by designing a program that would equitably help students and their families to continue their studies at home.

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