Provision of Critical Services and Potential Fears as Coronavirus Spreads

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The wellbeing of any country relies upon secure and resilient critical infrastructure. These are the assets, systems, and networks that underpin out society.

They include – but are not limited to – water, medical services, security and many others, including people who are central to provision of all those services. In our entire life, it has never occurred that anything else other than war would come to test the resilience of these critical infrastructure. It is thus an important period to ask questions as to whether these critical infrastructure will stand as we stare on a possible countrywide lockdown.

Early last week, the government provided a list of at least nine critical services that must remain in place in case of a complete breakdown. The services are water, health, security, air traffic control, fire services, ports, financial and transport services. It further added that senior officials serving in the three arms of government are providers of critical services and will be in duty in the event a total lockdown occurs.

Conspicuously missing in that list is food supplies. Unless categorized in one of the issued items, fuel and energy also remains essential to continuation of almost all services. The exclusion of these services is something to worry about.

The aim of reflecting on critical infrastructure is actually more than what the government has said, and more on what is being done. It is thus essential to highlight what should be done, and what is becoming increasing necessary not to do. All critical services will remain essential to guarantee that we shall not be fighting to prevent virus-related deaths, when at the same time we are inducing hunger-related deaths. ITo ensure this does not happen, the decision to guide on appropriate decisions affecting mass populations should be left to the central government. That is in appreciation the government does not abandon critical roles in a time of a crisis of global proportions.

What I am now seeing are governors issuing orders that illustrate panic and fail to recognize that individuals who are affected have roles that they cannot abandon. An impromptu closure of markets in Kisii, and a blanket ban on bodaboda in Machakos illustrate just some of the decisions done without consideration of people’s most critical needs. If these decisions are left to be handled by the national government, on guidance of the Coronavirus Task Force, we shall have people-oriented orders to respond to this emergency. It is now the non-uniform orders that will pose a huge threat to people in different parts.

Back to critical services, food will remain the most basic products during these crisis, and an early plan to determine how that shall be distributed in case there is a complete lockdown should be addressed now. I had cautioned that those stocking will only be privileged to enjoy cereals and dry food, and this is because there is another risk, power, electricity and energy that interestingly missed on Kinyua’s list of people who cannot leave work even if things got worse.  A two day blackout will not only kill you with boredom, but will have you throwing out all the food.

I’d equally been wondering on the level of training that has been accorded these individuals who will remain at the frontline providing these services.

I’m smelling a lockdown, but I am sceptical if the providers of essential services will manage to keep themselves secure. In as much as the provision of critical services remains, I am scared that we might lose more due to government’s lack of foresight that even the fatalities from the virus.

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