Small scale traders in Kakamega County want Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to start distributing food to the less privileged in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
The traders have urged the county chief to shift focus on reaching out to the many people who are struggling to fend for their families through the funds allocated on fighting the scourge instead of buying masks.
While acknowledging the importance of wearing personal protective equipment like masks and observing social distancing rules, the traders want Oparanya to treat the distribution of food as a priority.
Speaking on Sunday, Jua Traders Association Chairman Moses Musundi urged the Council of Governor's chair to form a workable taskforce to distribute basic needs to the locals.
"While we appreciate efforts made by the county in ensuring every trader has a mask, we urge the governor to help in the distribution of food items as getting such during this pandemic has become very difficult to many people, masks have been given by other leaders, what people lack is food," Musundi said.
Richard Mwangale, a maize seller, stated that there is a pressing need for the county to address the issue because many people grapple with the ripple effects caused by the novel coronavirus.
"We cannot eat masks, we urge them to distribute food, businesses are doing bad, the whole day some of us can come with nothing yet there are those who depend on us. We believe if they help we shall beat the virus together," said Mwangale.
A week ago, Oparanya said that food distribution was not a priority in the fight against the disease that has brought a lot of activities to a standstill.
"The question of food distribution is not a priority at the moment. We want to ensure the safety of our people first, this is why a lot of emphases is on masks. Here people are allowed to work. When we reach that point where the county is locked definitely we shall give food," Oparanya said while addressing the media on the state of preparedness in the county.
He noted that the open-air markets in the region are the weakest links, curtailing the fight against the spread of the disease.
He also announced that one million masks will be bought in which 600,000 reusable masks will be distributed to the vulnerable and 400,000 others to the healthcare workers.
He stated that at a meeting with county Covid-19 response team they resolved to arrest anybody found conducting businesses in the markets flouting the rules and that they would take the offenders to mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
He added that the county will control intercountry trade as one of the measures aimed at limiting movements to stop the spread of the virus. This he said will be achieved through mounting of roadblocks at the entry points where the screening will be done.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale is among the leaders who have faulted the county boss for failing to address the food issue properly during the fight against the pandemic.
Khalwale called on leaders to treat the food issue with a lot of seriousness stating that many are suffering from hunger as a result of the scourge.
‘’The governor and the senator should be serious in coming up with a plan on how to distribute food to the people are going hungry for days. They cannot eat masks,’’ Khalwale made the remarks at Golf hotel.