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How Joho is staying ahead of the pack in the fight against Covid-19

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is one of the leaders hogging the limelight for good reasons as the country battles the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19 disease.

Mr Joho is striking the right chords, thus staying ahead of the pack as he tries to ensure that Mombasa doesn’t become the country’s epicentre of the outbreak of the virus.

The county is second to Nairobi in the number of confirmed cases, reporting at least 22 infections out of the 191.

Together with Kilifi and Kwale, the region now has over 40 cases, a rising concern.

From locking down social joints, beaches, markets and establishments like salons and barbershops, which have the highest risk of infections, to reaching out to the business community to help with relief foods for the vulnerable, Mr Joho has played his cards right.

From the onset, when it emerged that Mombasa, together with Kilifi and Kwale were high-risk areas, Mr Joho, who together with the Mombasa County commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo chair the county’s Covid-19 committee, moved to put in place stricter measures to enforce social distancing to curb the spread.

“These are painful decisions that will cost us, but we have a responsibility to the citizenry too,” Mr Joho said.

RELIEF FOOD

His administration has also set aside Sh200 million Emergency Household Relief and Nutrition Support Project as part of the Mombasa Economic Stimulus Programme that will ensure residents are adequately taken care of in case of a lockdown.

“We have an ambitious budget of Sh700 million led by the county government of Mombasa to provide nutrition support for 227,404 vulnerable households.

“We wish to make an appeal to the national government, our bilateral and multilateral partners, state corporations that are hosted in Mombasa and those from outside, and our private sector to assist us to achieve this goal,” Mr Joho said, adding that the county leadership won’t sit back and watch the vulnerable go hungry as the pandemic bites.

Since then, the county has been able to collect relief food worth over Sh16 million from several businesses, with donations ranging from food items, to sanitisers and other products.

Mr Joho has also in the last week unveiled over 18 ventilators donated by the leader of Dubai, Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Falas, earning praise.

AUTO SPRAYERS

At the ferry, which had been identified as the weakest link in the fight against the pandemic, the county stepped in to help the cash-strapped Kenya Ferry Services with the construction of taps and sinking of borehole, through partnership with Mombasa Cement, as they sought to ensure that handwashing was done up to the recommended standard.

However, it is the latest partnership with his ex-gubernatorial competitor Suleiman Shahbal in the innovative sanitisers sprayers that has set the Mombasa governor apart from his peers.

“We realised this wasn’t the time for competition but to join hands and work for our people. We saw this as an opportunity to set the pace for other regions, using technology to help in the sanitation campaign and fight against the pandemic,” Mr Shahbal told Sunday Nation.

The auto sprayers have come as a relief to the thousands of commuters using the Likoni crossing channel in Mombasa County.

Ferry users, who until last week had to wash their hands at taps installed by the county in partnership with several private organisations, now only pass through the sanitising booth that has been constructed at the ferry channel to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In the project, Mr Joho’s administration partnered with Mr Shabhal, Kenya Red Cross, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and Technical University of Mombasa (TUM).

FOLLOW SUIT

The two spraying booths are prototypes that will be in pilot use for one week, as the county monitors their efficiency, even as bigger ones are under construction and are expected to be installed at the ferries boarding points in the next two weeks.

“It is important for the residents to be reassured that the chemicals are human-friendly and have been tested by the county public health officials,” Mr Joho said.

More than 300,000 passengers and over 6,000 motorists ply the Likoni channel daily.

For this innovation, Mr Joho has earned praise from the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who asked other county governments to follow suit and be innovative in their ways to fight off the virus.

On Thursday, he announced another first, setting up a 150-bed capacity field hospital at the Technical University of Mombasa as he prepared the county, should the positive cases balloon.