, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 25 – Expensive food, joblessness, hiked fares and inability to travel upcountry ranked highest among the issues exasperating Kenyans this festive season.
Those interviewed by Capital News on Christmas day said they had little to celebrate since life was becoming unbearable.
“Everything has gone up. The government has now enticed us with maize flour but other commodities are unaffordable,” one Nairobi resident said.
“We would be happier if the government would consider fixing fares especially during the festive season, because we are suffering,” said a traveller at the Machakos bus station.
Failed rains in many agricultural areas across the country have resulted in an acute food shortage due to crop failure. As a result, food prices have been steadily rising this year against a background of high unemployment levels occasioned by a stagnant economy.
President Mwai Kibaki has however used his Christmas message to assure Kenyans that the government has imported adequate cereals to meet the country’s demand.
Speaking after attending Christmas mass at the Holy Ghost Cathedral in Mombasa on Thursday, the President said the Government was aware of the food shortage being experienced in parts of the country and had taken measures to address the situation.
The Head of State expressed optimism that the food situation would improve next year when the current crop is harvested.
Several citizens meanwhile have petitioned the government to address the high unemployment levels.
“We need this government to increase our salaries. For most of us, our salaries have not changed much in the last decade,” a traveller at the Machakos bus terminus complained.
“Most of us cannot afford to go home to our families because the cost of living is so high,” his companion added.
Elsewhere, in his Christmas message, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has urged Kenyans to take next year’s population census very seriously.
Mr Odinga said on Thursday that figures obtained from the exercise would be critical in guiding resource allocation and will determine the political representation of respective regions.
The Premier, who attended a Christmas service at the Nyamira Anglican Church in Bondo, encouraged the youth to seek the new generation national Identity Cards.
He also called on them to register as voters to realise their constitutional rights and privileges.
The ODM leader announced that plans were underway to scrap and replace the old voter’s register, after the new interim electoral body is formed.