After recent uproar, the government has chosen Chinese contractors to repair the city roads at the expense of local companies. This should serve as a wake up call for our home made contractors that all is not well. They should change tack if they don’t want to be bypassed. Many companies work diligently- indeed Kenyans are known the world over for their entrepreneurial, hardworking spirit. But we can and must do more.
First, local businesses should stop whining and complaining. It’s true we have had a long electioneering period, power supply may be expensive and unstable, imports might be flowing freely, corruption, drought, county rates and taxes etc. ensures that that is always something we can blame for sub optimal performance .But with globalisation, cheaper imports be it tires, electronics or sugar will not lack. Whereas last year we had drought, right now we are crying about floods havoc. Before rate caps reduced access to credit we were bemoaning the exorbitant loan rates. And though we politic much, our democracy is much more advanced compared to our peers in Africa. We dare not belittle or brush aside the many impediments to a successful profitable business in Kenya. But we also should not underestimate the resolve of many business leaders to honestly succeed against all odds. Let’s concentrate on our core business and the opportunities.
Companies must also embrace quality. Nairobians can rest assured that the Chinese will do a quality job and within the given timeline. It was not always so. There was a time in the past when Chinese products were regarded as fake and copy cats. Not anymore. SGR, Thika Road and other projects have dismissed that notion. On the other hand, though generally we do a good job, we have a reputation of building houses which collapse during construction, or put kerosene in petrol and as NYS scandals show, to supply air. And residents have been known to lament against long delays and cost overruns. Indeed there was a time when the former Roads Minister John Michuki complained that a road to the president backyard was taking a whole century to complete. This ought to change.
Finally, we should be aim to be provide quality services and goods at reasonable prices. With the government dedicating half of its tax revenues to repaying loans, it’s really price sensitive. The county governments are also squeezed spending most of their cash on salaries etc. If we are to share in the national cake, our prices must be affordable. The roads annuity programme was shelved because among other things, the contractors quoted outrageously high prices. Consumers are also price conscious due to the high cost of living.
Form sustainable partnerships that will ensure that we deliver quality, on time and affordably. Let’s marry the abundant young labour force with the challenges our country is facing. Opportunites abound whether in garbage collection or developing the counties. The rains have destroyed infrastructure that will need repairs and rebuilding. As the economy recovers and grows, let’s rise to the occasion.
Whether company wise or as individuals, we can’t afford to slacken. If the Cuban doctors do a good job we will not be shocked with foreigners being called upon to manage IEBC – elections, secretariat, servers and all.