Do you know your MCA candidate?

Late last year I penned a piece on MCA’s i also recall stating thay they were not glorified councillors. Here I am again to remind you .

As we head to the polls on Tuesday 8/8 I know many of us don’t bother much with MCA position. I bet many don’t know who they will vote when it comes to the MCA position.

We are all focused on President , Governor and MP pushing a key position of an MCA to the corner . What we forget is that MCA’s will determine how your county affairs will be managed.

MCA’s are considered as glorified councillors which is a very big mistake on our part. It is useless to elect a great Governor but give him / her a bunch of hungry marauding MCA’S as the cast to support the Governor .

Folks we all live in a county or the other , I believe we can all make an informed choice by getting the right MCA. As things stand now as long as we continue voting for an MCA say on party lines or even guess work we are doomed. As you step into that box I hope and pray that it is no longer guess work. I have even heard some say that they will leave the MCA ballot blank.

Allow me to remind you that these are guys :

*Who can impeach a governor

*They can create hell for a well meaning governor .

* They scare the hell out of a governor elected by the people .

*They can impeach any CEC or even the governor himself .

On the flip side good bunch of MCA’s will equally hold to account a rogue governor in an objective manner. MCA is too important position to be left to failures and opportunists . Trust me investing in a good MCA is worth every cent.

On my recent drive around in Nairobi I saw many Kenyans of Asian descent vying to be MCA’s and that really warmed my heart. You cannot be the ones running the business of the city then leave the politics to the rest

I know many of you are focused on the presidency but you should not forget that the local stuff revolves around a governor and MCA’s are a crucial in the entire set up .

Mohammed Hersi :

@mohammedhersi

Chairman Kenya Tourism Federation

Making Matatus & Buses safer 80% is in the hands of Passengers

 

 

Today allow me to bring up an issue that is very Kenyan. Once in a while seating in my office I always hear a very heavy sound from a very strong base speakers. I eventually found out it was coming from the matatus that ply the Lights Reef route in Mombasa . A few days ago I was on Langata road Nairobi a 25 seaters Matatu  was next to our car and the noise coming from that vehicle was simply unbearable.

If I am outside and the noise is that ear splitting and ear drum damaging , I pity the passengers who travel in this vehicles day in day out. Please do not jump at me and tell me that I am privileged and I do not ride in Matatus. Please go tell it to the birds. I only started driving in my adult life hence for many years I have been riding in  matatus.

 

Allow me to take you back to 1986 when I was attending Meru School, I recall taking one of those fast moving Peugeot 7 seater that used to ply Isiolo Meru route. Isiolo Meru route is normally 52KM. After the notorious Meru Subuiga turnoff the driver decided to drive like crazy and two of us made a lot of noise that he should slow down.

He told us if we could not stomach it we could as well get off. Two of us decided to disembark and wait for anther vehicle. Please note that I was a student and I had to pay double fare since I now had to take another vehicle. I thought my life was more important , I had a choice to make. The other gentleman who chose to stand up was a military guy and we started talking and we became friends until we finally got another vehicle that was being driven at a sensible speed by a sane driver.

In late 90’s I hsppened to be in a matatu heading to Kilifi from Mombasa , I literally found myself on my own since the young driver  ( hardly 22) was zooming at 140KMH , No one else  joined me to condemn him. This time it was at night but I did manage to force him to slow down but not after a big struggle and both the driver and the conductor called me names.

To cut along story short why would Kenyans choose to remain silent when some half educated pea brained chap is literately choosing to kill them, Don’t you value your life?

Do you know the power of numbers? I am sure in that matatu you will not miss a driver. You can forcefully drive that vehicle to a police station . Please don’t tell me the police do not take any action, If that was to happen the driver would be very careful next time because for them every hour counts. Trust me not all policemen are compromised.

For me I have since transitioned from riding in a matatus but I don’t think the madness has reduced in any way. I also have lots of friends who still ride in matatus and I care for them hence this piece.

Why would sensible Kenyans sit in a vehicle that is playing noise NOT music that is seriously affecting their health? Why would you ride in a matatu or a killer bus  that is clearly going to kill you and many others?

Why would you allow a driver who does NOT value life to make you a widow or widower?

Why would you allow a crazy driver to make your children overnight orphans?

Folks change begins with you and I .  The police are not riding in that death trap, you do.

This has nothing to do with “ Serikali Saidia” It all got to do with YOU yes YOU . A driver and a conductor cannot be stronger and bigger than all of you in that vehicle .

This is your life and almighty God expects you to treasure and take care of it. ACCIDENTS ARE CAUSED BY HUMANS  and stupid humans for that matter. Please don’t blame it on God, Almighty God gave you a brain to think and a mouth to speak up.

For you to remain silent in that matatu or bus  then you are not any different. I hope you will now stand up and help make our roads safer, to reach your destination in one piece.

The choice is yours.

I wish you all a safe and pleasant weekend more so as we head to August holidays.

 

Please lift the non esential travel advisory on Lamu Island

As Tourism players at the coast we lobbied and pushed really hard to get the non essential advisory lifted on Mombasa , Diani & Malindi / Watamu.  Thanks to our government for the measures it has taken  matters security.  The worst that can happen to any destination is a non essential travel advisory to be imposed on it . Non essential travel advisory is TERRIBLE. It is simply a No GO ZONE instruction which destroys an entire economy like it almost did in the case of Mombasa and good part of Kenya coast. We are yet to recover from its negative effects. Lamu an Island that is purely dependent on tourism has been forgotten. Granted we had security issues in Lamu county but Lamu as a county is HUGE  6167 Sqkm,  Mpeketoni is 45KM away from Mukowe and Manda Airport . If Eastleigh in the heart of Nairobi  696Sqkm can be isolated as a non-essential travel advisory so the same should apply to the mainland but spare Lamu Island which is the main tourist zone and Manda Airport which connects any would be traveller to the rest of Kenya. Until the other day Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt was all clear yet it was Sandwiched in a volatile area facing the Gulf of Aden & Sinai which is a stone’s throw but were receiving 3M+ European tourists, A million were British yet Lamu Island is on its own had strict advisory slapped on it. The area around Sharm El Shekih was also on Non essential so all I am saying do the same for Mpeketoni, Witu etc . As we converge on the island of Lamu for the Lamu Cultural Festival I will be making very strong pleas to the Western nations notably UK, USA, France et al to seriously review the status of Lamu Island . There is no imminent danger on lamu island and lamu never had any incident even at its worst moment besides security has been heightened since then. As the world supports Paris to get back it’s normalcy so Lamu equally needs the same compassion. Enjoy the fest .

Banks & Chained Pens … Please encourage your clients to take the pens.

Yesterday afternoon I walked into my bank a branch somewhere in Nyali Mombasa. This is a young small trendy bank compared to where I have always banked . I decided to try a smaller bank while maintaining my relationship with my old bank. The ATM outside was out of order and I walked into the small banking hall. I was received by very charming warm friendly professional associates. I was even served a nice cup of coffee.

They quickly facilitated a withdrawal and when I wanted to sign the slip I noticed a branded “plastic “ pen which was as usual chained so that the pen is not taken away. I asked the three associates present why they chain the pain ? All had their answers but the main one was ” You see we will loose many pens and we are also trying to cut our costs bla bla bla “. I then posed a question , how much does the chained pen cost ? They were all hesitant to give me an answer but I encouraged them to try . One said Ksh100 while the lowest said Ksh 60.

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As a hotelier we give pens at all the meeting rooms and even in the rooms. The cost when you buy in bulk is anything between Ksh 9 to Ksh 12 for non-branded pens while you can pay up to Ksh 17 for a branded pen and a good quality for that matter. So first things first the staff did not even know the cost of what they were trying to “protect “. Suppose they encouraged their clients to pick a pen and take It home or to the office or even keep it in the car , when I use it a discussion may easily come up and in the process I may end up recommending that bank to someone else. Others may end up using that bank simply because they saw me with that pen.

Let us now do some maths and see how much banks are busy chaining and the lost marketing opportunities. Suppose a small branch like my bank was to give 50 pens a day , trust me that is a huge number of pens. We are talking of a mere Ksh 850 per day which will be in the hands of serious people who have entrusted you with their money. In a month 26 days we are looking at Ksh 22,100 and In one year Ksh 265,200. The same bank will have billboards across the city trying to catch some new customers while a real one who easily be marketing you with a free pen cannot pick one because you chained It . One billboard in a month will cost you anything above Ksh 140,000 ++ printing cost etc while a colored ad In the dailies will take you back Ksh 750,000 + Vat and next day “ina funga mahamri ama nyama” .

Just because the big players do it please don’t copy them , they are wrong. Your customers are not there to steal from you . Encourage them to pick a pen and who knows that could be bring you a referral . Anytime I see a bank chain a pen , I see lost opportunities for free marketing in the right hands .Hotels give slippers during your stay .When you wear them at home a discussion may come up and who knows your sister or brother or a work colleague looking for a place to go on holiday may actually end up choosing my hotel because of that slippers we provided during your stay . How much does that slippers cost Ksh140 branded and for how long will you use it ? Maybe 2 months. Can you imagine free advertising at someone’s home for 60 days wow wow !!! And my hotel becomes talking point every once in a while .

Would you allow me to place a banner in your living room ? Of course not. Hotels that give such collaterals do not get anywhere close to what banks make in profits . Can you imagine how much more banks they could make if they chose to unchain their minds and pens? Your guess is as good as mine. Please give out the pens, with a sign “ If you liked how I write please take me home”.

Shutting out other Airlines and forcing agents to book them will not solve KQ woes ,

Matters KQ . Last night on Citizen TV Terryanne Chebet hosted CS Finance and Chris Kirubi . First thing first we all agree that KQ is in trouble and it needs help. So the question is what help and how? I was shocked by two suggestions fronted by CK. JKIA is allowing too many other airlines into Nbi hence they must be reduced, I could not believe that. He posed why should other airlines ferry people say to Dubai while our own KQ is half empty? . Hallo excuse me , it’s about strategy, price , customer care etc and that is why people will choose Emirates and Ethiopian etc. Stephen Covey called this a scarcity mentality,  when you see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. There is plenty for all. These other airlines are all ferrying people into Nairobi who need to connect to rest of Africa 54 countries and 40 in sub Saharan Africa and who is taking that business? it is KQ. This prescription by CK if it was to happen it will also kill JKIA as a hub . He should go read about the history of Emirates Airlines . In 1985 Gulf Air then owned by then Gulf countries made an ultimatum to Dubai that they either cut down other airlines into Dubai or they pull out. The father of current leader Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum late Sheikh Rashid Maktoum decided to bite the bullet and refused to stop other airlines. Gulf Air stopped and overnight they lost 75% of the traffic . Emirates Airlines was born out of necessity and by then KQ was already 9 years old. Emirates Airlines started with a mere two aircrafts leased from Pakistan Airlines yes Pakistan. As they say the rest is history. Folks Emirates did not start with 100’s of  767 & 777 . So to my dear friend CK protectionism will never ever take us anywhere . This is what is killing Mombasa not allowing other airlines to get here. Soon Rwanda is unveiling a world class airport mini Changi Int airport at Bugesera , they are building their airlines slowly but surely . If we don’t put our acts together Kigali will be the hub with their ease of doing business and efficiency they can easily do it. We then do not even have to stop the other airlines they will have an alternative and they will switch anyway and CK’s wish will be realised. The second shocking prescription he gave is that all agents must book 50% to remain licensed. I can’t believe this .  A 1970 solution to a 2015 problem.  It is a free  market besides KQ ‘s woes is not revenue . They made 110B revenue up form Ksh 106 the problem is cost, cost and again cost which Is in the hands of the management. No one wants to address the elephant in the room first dreamliner purchase deals which is called fleet ownership cost jumped from Ksh12B to Ksh 25B, & what was the exit plan. Second  fuel hedging & exit plan that cost them Ksh6B , why hide behind confidentiality clause when you want tax payers money to bail you out and thirdly  Operating  Expense of Ksh 4B.  These 3 items blew a Ksh 22B hole in KQ’s P &L . Emirates , Ethiopian and others are not the problem . They don’t run KQ , Emirates & Ethiopian built their fleet slowly but surely.  Before any bailout is dished out Ksh 60B is what entire Kenya’s tourism  earns in a year . We need a proper forensic audit by a very independent audit firm otherwise it will be throwing good money after bad money . If nationalism alone was enough to make an airline successful Nigeria Airways would be ruling the skies.  Shutting out other Airlines and forcing agents to book KQ will not solve their woes . The problem is inside KQ not outside. Let us be realistic and YES KQ can soar once again.

The other side of Kenya Ferry Mombasa , matters security

#WhyILoveKenya ; A lot has been reported and said about the Kenya Ferry Services in Mombasa crossing the ever busy Likoni channel . As a tourism player and chair of Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association we take very keen interest on what happens there. Many of you never use the ferry on foot so you do not know what progress they have made over the past of couple of months. on Sunday I took the liberty to visit them and I noticed quite a number of positive developments that is never reported. The only news is about a ferry stalling or about an accident . I have also seen criticism that the ferry team do not screen people which is NOT true. They now have elaborate screening process just like any international airport with proper screening machines. Pictures don’t lie so I am also sharing the images. When I engaged them they were happy to give me a few mind boggling facts. On daily basis average passengers 300,000 and 4 to 5000 vehicles. They are among the highest in the world per annum ferry operator with s figure of 108m using this service . They are now working on vehicle scanners, trying to get the security ministry to undertake that, if there is one help we can give them is to push for Internal security to undertake that like yesterday . They also have a dedicated police station under a commander, Ferry Police Station fully gazzeted. They built the unit plus a cell!!!. I thought it is good something positive about the ferry and it will also help us all to separate facts from myths. I agree challenges are many and they promised me that once inside the ferry they will also have a strict pedestrians movement Eg No pedestrian should be in the vehicles area etc. Pedestrians will not be allowed to disembark until vehicles exit but many times crowd control becomes a challenge but rest assured they have all been screened with their bags etc Let us appreciate this as we help them improve this service until the day the South coast bypass happens. Please share far & wide.‪#‎KeepCalmVisitKenya #KeepCalmVisitMombasa

It is still very safe to visit Kenya in light of FCO travel advice. Kenya Tourism Board Statement

KTB STATEMENT – UPDATED FCO TRAVEL ADVICE FOR KENYA COAST
27/03/2015 15:00
In accordance with the update on 27th March 2015 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to the UK’s travel advice for the Kenya coast, the Kenya Tourism Board would like to clarify that the revised advice advises against all but essential travel within 15km of the coast from Tiwi up to the border with Somalia. This includes Mombasa Island, Moi International Airport, Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu.
The following areas of Kenya are NOT affected by the advisory and continue to operate as normal:
 Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
 All safari circuits throughout Kenya Masaai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru etc
 Ukunda Airport for access to Diani Beach and the south coast with the following areas of the
Kenya coast not affected by the change in travel advice to the coast:
o Diani Beach
o Galu Beach
o Kinondo
o Msambweni
o Funzi Island
o Shimoni
o Wasini Island
For trade information please contact rosinaw@hillsbalfour.com & sophieh@hillsbalfour.com
For media information please contact danielar@hillsbalfour.com & josies@hillsbalfour.com

My Fellow Kenyans & Friends, this Easter visit Mombasa & Kenya Coast. #KeepCalmVistMombasa

In light of the fresh FCO Travel advisory I am now appealing to all Kenyans and residnets who had booked to stay in resorts along the Kenya coast over Easter holidays to continue with their plans.  I appeal to you not to cancel your stay. security has tremendously improved since December 2014. This advisory is nothing new as it only extended the area from Mtwapa to Tana River now including Kilifi & Malindi. It has however shocked us since it has all been calm and normalcy was returning to Mombasa and Kenya coast.  If anything we were looking forward to the lifting of the Non-essential travel . A truly friendly nation will not ask its citizens to keep off but ask them to exercise caution while helping the affected country to deal with any security threat. It is ironic that after the Paris attack the entire EU descended on Paris to stand with the French as sign of solidarity. It takes you and I with other Kenyans and any other friendly nation to stand up and support the Kenya Coast. I also know very many British visitors who have ignored the non-essential travel advise to continue visiting the Kenya coast. The economy of the coast region is in dire straits due to these long ban, if anything it is now having a counter effect. For tourism and Kenya cost to do well we must get this advisory lifted all together. First things first  Please help us save Easter bookings and keep the economy of Mombasa and Kenya coast going.   Keep Calm & Come To Mombasa & Kenya Coast

The new FCO Travel Advisory is both punitive & counter productive

Today 27th March 2015 , the UK Foreign Office issued a fresh advisory affecting most part of Kenya coast as follows. “Latest update: Summary – the FCO now advise against all but essential travel to within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to and including Tiwi; this area includes Mombasa Island, Moi International Airport (including transit through the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu”  . As a resident of Mombasa, Kenya coast and a tourism player I find this latest advisory as punitive , unfair and highly regrettable.

The UK FCO issued the first non-essential travel advise on Mombasa way back in May 2014 and in 4 weeks we will be marking one year mark since that decision was made. Even international organisations based in Nairobi and the region are not allowed to book their trips to Mombasa nor hold meetings at the coast.  The effects have been terrible on hotels and resorts along the entire Kenya coast. Close to 20,000 employees have lost their jobs while multi million investments are looking at gloomy future. We respect and appreciate that they have a duty to their citizens but they also need to remember that friendly nations must work together to deal with terror threats. The historic ties between UK & Kenya go way back and we expect far better treatment when it comes to such matters.Let us not sugar coat the impact of non essential travel, It is nothing short of economic embargo  and it is devastating.

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A truly friendly nation will not ask its citizens to keep off but ask them to exercise caution while helping the affected country to deal with any security threat. It is ironic that after the Paris attack the entire EU descended on Paris to stand with the French as a sign of solidarity. It takes you and I with other Kenyans and any other friendly nation to stand up and support us. I also know very many British visitors who have ignored the non-essential travel advise to continue visiting the Kenya coast. The economy of the coast region is in dire straits due to these long ban, if anything it is now having a counter effect. We have many youths who are jobless and are now even more prone to be recruited by terror groups not to mention robberies and petty crimes. For tourism and Kenya coast to do well we must get this advisory lifted all together , extending it was the least expected as we head into the Easter holidays.

I want to assure everyone that security has been beefed up tremendously hence the calm since December 2014. If you had plans to visit Mombasa & Kenya coast please do not hesitate to confirm your flights and resort booking.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Coast Tourism Association

CEO Heritage Hotels

#SomeoneTellDonaldTrump, Africa is a continent and not a country.

Donald J. Trump , You seem to have a huge problem to understand Africa a place many of us call home. Let me help you to understand the sheer size of Africa. Ignorance is dangerous more so when it comes from a man I hold in high esteem. You have been in the forefront pushing for flight ban from West Africa to the United States in wake of the Ebola crisis. In wake of Sars I do not recall you calling for flight ban from China, Thailand etc . You seem to have a problem linking Obama and anything African. He may have his lineage in Africa but he is certainly American and he is the President of the United States of America.  Please learn to differentiate the two.  If you may still be behind news , Nigeria one of the countries in Africa and the largest economy just managed to defeat Ebola while the US is still struggling with one or two cases with people like you spreading more panic rather than constructive means to deal with it. Firstly Africa is a huge continent and we have 53 independent nations that make the continent of Africa. If anything Africa is more diverse than any other continent in the world. From the North  we have Egypt, Morocco to the South Namibia and South Africa, From the East Comoro islands to the West Gambia & Mauritania .  Kenya my home is home to safari, best tea & coffee, world beating athletes, I am sure many are getting ready for New York marathon, please don’t run away when they show up. The continent of Africa can fit US, China, India and Western Europe & Argentina. If I recall well Dr Mo Ibrahim did advice that people like yourself can do themselves a great favour , please google Africa to learn more about these great continent. It is all free of charge.