Car park in Nairobi Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018. Photo Jonah Onyango/Standard
Nairobi County Government has lost about Sh400 million in revenue since last year, when it transferred the function of collecting parking fees to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
A year after KRA took over the collection exercise, the county earned Sh1,058,855,861, dropping from Sh1,457,939,312 collected in the 2019-2020 financial year.
County officials claimed the drop was occasioned by confusion brought about by introduction of two parking payment USSD codes – *235# run by City Hall and *647# - fronted by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).
In 2019, KRA took over collection of parking revenue on behalf of the NMS ran by Director General (DG) Mohammed Badi, which also took over transport, health, public works and auxiliary services.
A report obtained exclusively by The Sunday Standard indicates that revenue took a dip between March 2020 to January 2021, compared to a similar period in 2019 to 2020, apart from December which registered a Sh15.6 million increase in revenue.
Nairobi County Budget and Appropriations Committee chairperson Robert Mbatia, however, blamed the loss in revenue on system downtime, confusion over the two parking payment methods as well as demotivated and non-experienced staff.
“System downtime has contributed a lot towards the decline in revenues. Within every three weeks there must be a system downtime.
“Two, there is still confusion over the two USSD payment codes for parking fees. The lack of reconciling the two has seen people pay using the old USSD code thus denying KRA revenue,” said Mbatia.
Mbatia said the current staff seconded to KRA from City Hall were not qualified. He however maintained that collection of parking fees would still be done by KRA.
“I still believe it is a better approach going to KRA than how we used to operate previously. If those issues are solved, we will see a boost in revenue collections,” he said.
By time of going to press, KRA was yet to reply to our queries on the matter.
The mandate of collecting parking fees in Nairobi has changed three times. At the advent of devolution, Webtribe through Jambo Pay was contracted by then Governor Evans Kidero-led administration in 2014 to collect fees.
Following an acrimonious fall out with Governor Mike Sonko, Webtribe’s contract was terminated, leading to the introduction of the *235# USSD code by City Hall.
Shortly after, NMS took over four county functions and delegated the responsibility of collecting parking fees to KRA. - Josphat Thiong’o, The Standard
President Salva Kiir and Environment Minister Josephine Napwon during the marking of the World Environment Day at Freedom Hall in Juba on June 17, 2021. Photo Office of the President FB Page
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Thursday launched efforts to restore the environment by commissioning the planting of 100 million trees across the country in 10 years.
Kiir also ordered the ministry of environment and forestry to work with the Juba City Council to address waste management with a focus on cleaning the River Nile.
The announcements come as the country marked World Environment Day (WED) under the theme 'Reimagine. Recreate. Restore' at the Juba Freedom Hall. The WED is celebrated on June 5th every year to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Speaking during the event, President Kiir called upon the Minister of Environment and Forestry Hon. Josephine Napwon Cosmos to work with necessary stakeholders to restore South Sudan's land-based ecosystem.
"To protect the Nile as a source of our livelihood I am calling upon the minister of environment and forestry to work in collaboration with the City of Juba to address these issues. Please use all the administrative tools at your disposal to address these issues of plastic bottles and other waste in the Nile once and for all,” he said.
The president also called on the general public to adopt waste disposal strategies that are environment-friendly.
For her part, Minister Napwon said to enhance the environment's restoration, the government must strive to create sustainable ways of living and working.
“This project will help mitigate the effects of climate change and restore the degraded land-based ecosystem to make them more productive and to be able to provide sustainable livelihood to our rural community," she said. "Therefore, we are appealing to our people across South Sudan and stakeholders to plant trees and clean up the surroundings and take action against harmful effects of environmental degradation."
She mentioned that South Sudan must engage in afforestation, reafforestation, regenerative agriculture, and smart farming practices for the protection and restoration of the environment. - Radio Tamazuj
KAMPALA, Uganda — The Ugandan Army Commander Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, who was sanctioned by the United States and reported to International Criminal Court for ordering the massacre of more than 154 people during an attack on a kingdom palace in western Uganda in 2016, has bragged about how he took wise decisions and those killed were criminals who deserved it.
Lt Gen. Peter Elwelu, the UPDF Commander of Land Forces, stated the decisions he made during the UPDF invasion on the Rwenzururu Kingdom in 2016 brought peace to Kasese. Lt Gen. Elwelu made the statements during a press conference shortly after being sworn in as an MP representing the army in Uganda's 11th parliament, eliciting additional outrage from human rights activists and Ugandan citizens.
On November 26, 2016, Ugandans awoke to the news that violence had erupted in Kasese, the capital of the Ugandan Kingdom of Rwenzururu, when Ugandan police attacked the Rwenzururu kingdom's government offices, murdering eight Rwenzururian royal guards and arresting two others.
The raid, according to Uganda's government, was in retaliation to militant attacks on police checkpoints in the region two weeks prior, which were allegedly carried out by the royal guards. According to a 2017 Human Rights Watch investigation, Ugandan armed forces and police, led by Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, attacked the Rwenzururu royal palace after an ultimatum imposed by the Ugandan government expired, killing more than 153 people, including royal guards, innocent people, and children.
Following the raids, Rwenzururu's Omusinga (King), Charles Mumbere, was detained and charged with murder; the King's movements have been restricted within Kampala and Wakiso, and he is not allowed to return to his kingdom.
Human rights advocates, critics, and the diplomatic community put pressure on the government after the attack in 2016, and following the 2017 HRW report, to act on the horrific disclosures about the Kasese killings, but the administration remained deafeningly silent.
After the government said that “Uganda has no lack of independent investigative capacity,” the EU called on the relevant authorities to swiftly conduct the necessary field investigation, ensure strong witness protection, and secure evidence. However, no investigation into the massacre has been carried out to date.
Later, opposition politicians, in collaboration with civil society and human rights campaigners, lobbied the ICC to charge the alleged perpetrators of the crimes, including President Museveni and the operation's commander, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu. However, following further research, the International Criminal Court decided not to pursue the allegations.
The International Criminal Court acknowledged in part of a draft report given by the ICC prosecutor's office in 2020 that because the royal guards were armed, the security personnel had every right to handle the situation the way they did.
The International Criminal Court, on the other hand, concurred that the operation was conducted in an indiscriminate and disproportionate manner, resulting in the deaths of many innocent civilians.
“The agency observes that there have been violent incidents, including violent battles between Ugandan security forces and armed groups... The office has highlighted that the claimed activities could not be appropriately evaluated within the context of article 8 of the statute due to a lack of the required intensity and organization….the alleged behavior also did not satisfy the contextual components of the crime of genocide under article 6 of the statute,” the report notes in part.
Lt. Gen. Elwelu, in response to queries concerning his role as a mission commander in the 2016 UPDF attack on the Rwenzururu Kingdom palace, claimed those killed in the attack were criminals who deserved to die, and that Kasese is now peaceful.
“It is because of my activities that Uganda is peaceful. In response to a query regarding his damaged image following the killings, Elwelu replied, “Kasese is peaceful because of my judgment.”
“What are you talking about? The ICC let me free. They were crooks who deserved to die. Because of my decision, Kasese is now peaceful,” he remarked.
When asked about the sanctions imposed by the United States of America in the aftermath of the incident, Elwelu stated he is unconcerned since his country is Uganda, not the United States. He claims he is unaware of the sanctions and is unconcerned about them.
“I'm not sure what that (sanctions) means to me. I'm not sure what it means, and I'm not familiar with America; I only know Uganda. To hell with sanctions if that's what they're called. Lt. Gen Elwelu stated, I don't need them."
He went on to say, “What is US?” “This is where I was born, where I will die, and where I will be buried. Elwelu's speech has caused alarm among Kasese residents and Rwenzururu kingdom leaders, and has opened healed wounds for those who lost loved ones in the November 2016 attack, which killed more than 150 people. Human Rights Defenders have warned the Commander of Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, about his words, warning he may regret them in the future if he is prosecuted.
Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana, Executive Director of the Foundation For Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) said “One day, Lt. Gen Elwelu will say, I wish I had listened,”
“His admission, as well as his acts, has legal ramifications. He is not only responsible for the bloodshed, but also for the prosecution. “The general needs to be informed that when people are executed extra-judicially, there is legal accountability that develops, and that though he currently enjoys state protection, he might be punished at any time in the future,” Dr. Ssewanyana stated.
James Ewera, a Kasese resident said “ Uganda still owes the people of Kasese an apology and if such a person who is a member of parliament, who is also a senior officer in the army makes such a reckless statement publicly that the people of Kasese deserves to die. Why should we be provoked to time and again?,” Ewera questioned.
Joseph Muranga, a former Prime Minister in Rwenzururu kingdom wondered why should Lt. Gen Elwelu make such statements.
“I was wondering how we move along the mountain, preaching peace, asking the former to do nothing and return to peace” he wondered.
Current Prime Minister of Rwenzururu Kingdom, Mr. Bradford Nguru, also weighed in saying “the more I know those more horrific images are still haunting him, many of us are still getting shocks and the more we talk about it positively, the more we heal. I think General needs to speak to a Counselor” he said.
Human rights Defender, Dr. Adrian Jjuko, reminded Lt. Gen Elwelu that Ugandan law doesn’t allow death penalty and his statements are unlawful. “How can someone else see this? It is baffling and is very shocking. Interestingly, Uganda last executed someone in 1998 meaning that even now we don't use the death penalty as a punishment anymore for even every heinous crime. So what are the people in Kasese that were shot down done deserve such quick justice?” Dr. Jjuko questioned.
Burundi's President Evariste Ndayishimiye, right, attends the inauguration of the new Kisumu port with an oil loading jetty at Lake Victoria in Kisumu, Kenya, on May 31, 2021. Photo Brian Ongoro/AFP/Getty
One year after Évariste Ndayishimiye was inaugurated as Burundi’s new president, following the sudden death of his long-term predecessor, many of the ex-general’s promises to hold people to account for violence and killings and to improve the country’s dismal human rights situation remain unfulfilled. Nevertheless, calls for the international community to drop sanctions and restore ties with Burundi are growing louder. Birgit Schwarz talks to Human Rights Watch’s Central Africa Director Lewis Mudge about the new president’s actions so far, his drive to improve the country’s image, and the reforms needed to truly address Burundi’s human rights crisis.
What legacy did Évariste Ndayishimiye inherit from his predecessor, Pierre Nkurunziza?
Pierre Nkurunziza, who came to power in 2005, towards the end of Burundi’s civil war, proved to be a president intent not on reconciliation but consolidation of power. His bid in April 2015 for a controversial third term triggered mass protests and plunged the country into a crisis of escalating violence and repression. Thousands were killed, disappeared, jailed, or tortured.
By mid-2015 almost all of Burundi’s opposition party leaders, independent journalists, and civil society activists had fled the country. Those who remained did so at great risk. Évariste Ndayishimiye inherited a country with weak institutions, where abuses are perpetrated with total impunity, and whose economy was in a precarious state.
Does Ndayishimiye seem willing to break with this violent past?
Ndayishimiye, who belongs to a small group of generals who fought during the civil war and have been controlling the country ever since, has publicly recognized that reforms are needed. However, his promises to end impunity, promote political tolerance, and make the justice system more impartial and fair have yet to be translated into true progress. Grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests have continued during his term, although to a lesser extent than under Nkurunziza. Efforts to investigate have been insufficient. While a few agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) have been arrested and detained, and some members of the ruling party’s youth league, the Imbonerakure, have been convicted for the murder of political opponents, not a single high-level person responsible for past abuses and killings has been held to account.
What positive steps have we seen in the past year?
Some opposition members who were arrested in the aftermath of the 2020 elections have been released. Others are still being targeted, however. The president pardoned four journalists arrested in 2019, but former member of parliament Fabien Banciryanino, one of the few parliamentarians to have shown the courage to denounce the human rights violations committed under the regime of Nkurunziza, has been behind bars since October last year. And Germain Rukuki, a human rights activist sentenced to 32 years in prison in 2018, remains unjustly jailed.
Some of the restrictions imposed on civil society and the media during the 2015 crisis have been lifted. But at the same time, the crackdown against human rights defenders and journalists perceived to be critical of the government continues. For example, a day after a meeting initiated by Ndayishimiye between the National Communication Council and heads of media houses, meant to improve relations between government officials and media, the guilty verdict in the case against 34 defendants, including 12 journalists and human rights defenders in exile, was published. They were found guilty in absentia on charges of “attacks on the authority of the state,” “assassinations,” and “destruction.”
Many journalists and human rights defenders remain in exile. Those still in the country are afraid to report about security incidents or human rights abuses and are not allowed to interview activists who live outside the country.
Why are calls to lift all sanctions against Burundi nevertheless growing louder?
Ndayishimiye would like to restore ties with the international community, and his reform agenda appears to be part of this strategy. While grave human rights violations have continued under his presidency, there is very little oversight, with watchdog mechanisms such as the United Nations Commission of Inquiry having been refused access.
Yet despite the absence of tangible progress, the country has been removed from the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. The African Union Peace and Security Council and the East African Community have openly called for all sanctions to be lifted. The European Union is currently engaged in advanced discussions to resume direct financial aid, although Ndayishimiye’s government has yet to meet many of the benchmarks the EU set in 2016.
Many in the international community feel tired of the crisis in Burundi and want to move on. However, unless the root causes of the crisis are addressed, the country will have an uncertain future.
What steps would restore trust in Ndayishimiye’s government?
Number one: Killings and abuses need to stop, and perpetrators must be brought to justice. Number two: national and international media, civil society, and the UN Commission of Inquiry need to be given access and allowed to operate freely. If there is nothing to hide, as the government claims, then why are the authorities so intent on making sure that no one can actually monitor the human rights situation in Burundi?
The government needs to go beyond promises and demonstrate its willingness to investigate and prosecute past and present abuses. Journalists and activists who disappeared should be accounted for, and those who have been unjustly jailed, like Germain Rukuki and Fabien Banciryanino, should be released.
What can the international community do to ensure freedom and accountability in Burundi?
The international community needs to clearly communicate that concrete progress with regards to the human rights situation in Burundi is fundamental to restoring ties. Given the situation on the ground and the absence of scrutiny, the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry should be renewed. The ongoing dialogue between the EU and the Burundian government should set clear goals for the restoration of freedom of assembly, association, and expression. One-off gestures and promises of change should not be taken at face value at the expense of accountability and people’s desire for justice and freedom. Only real and demonstrable change can break the cycle of political violence that has shaped the country. -
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