Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stakeholders and residents within Nguruman quest for 3G network

By Samuel Nzioka

Nguruman residents and part  of the larger olkiramatian location spend their weekend without mobile network connection as the only safaricom network mask was not functional. This has been a recurring occurrence and has affected communication and business transactions with M-pesa agents and their customers counting  losses since some people depended on mobile banking to buy fresh produce for sale in other parts of the county and in major towns.

"Majority of businesses involving mobile banking takes place over the weekend and this has affected our business... All M-pesa services are down and we can not buy farm produce for the mondays kiserian market" said one tomato crop vendor.

 Another community member who was expecting a visitor cursed the inconvenience caused since he couldn't communicate at all.

"The network is very weak and makes us spend a lot of time on internet while sending attachments on e-mail or even when blogging. It takes a lot of time to upload a compressed picture.... it will be great if we get 3G network...." said David Meitamei, a Maarifa centre user.

This has been a recurring occurrence and despite being reported to the service provider severally no attempts has been seen in bid to address the issue.

Sometimes last one week stakeholders working around  Nguruman held a discussion at Nguruman Maarifa centre, a meeting that sought way forward regarding recurring network issues at Olkiramatian location. Chaired by Joel Njonjo, a Researcher at African conservation centre (ACC), an agreement was arrived at to follow up the issue with safaricom staff who had visited the area and confirmed their full support on the issue.

Safaricom network mask at Ngomongo with technicians aboard. Photo by Samuel Nzioka
NCV team visited the site on Monday to probe and to confirm weather really there is any on going advancements to address the issue. Interestingly, there were three technicians  at the top of the mask. Efforts to reach them for comments were futile as they were very busy carrying stuff up and down the mask.
Some of the issues raised by the stakeholders included delays in response to emergencies due to poor network, delayed transactions, slow internet connection thus delayed response to official matters and other areas completely not having coverage.

It is presumed that, the situation may improve as there is a commendable improvement within the last 24 hours.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mango vendors ambush Nguruman

By Samuel Nzioka

Mango vendors from other parts of the country have rocked Nguruman area to buy Mangoes which is one of the fruit crops which thrive well in the area. The activity which begun about two weeks ago is picking momentum and seeing at-least three lorries drive away with the commodity every day. Nguruman is likely to be the only place within the country producing the commodity at this time of the year according to a report by one of the buyers.

"I have been in the business for the last ten years and you cannot find the commodity in any other part of the country at this time of the year..." said one of the buyers who sought anonymity.

Mango vendors parking mangoes in cartons with a lorry on stand-by. Photo by James Mathu
The prices have also dropped from Ksh 18 to 10 per piece for export quality and from Ksh 12 to 6 for the local market depending on size (Apple Mango). A crate had also dropped from Kshs 600 to 300 for the other local varieties. Due to ongoing rains the vendors fear for their business profits as a result of poor transport systems that has led to increase in the cost of transport. Speaking to one of the vendors, it was clear that Mangoes from Nguruman are rated 'Export quality' and most of them find their way to overseas markets.

Nguruman area for a long time has been the bread basket for fresh commodities supplying towns within the outskirts of Nairobi like Kiserian, Rongai, Ngong and also main market in Nairobi. The poor state of the road has been the talk of the day with political aspirants promising to address the issue but after wooing the voters, nothing is addressed.

On a meting with the farmers, the Divisional Agricultural Extension Officer (DAEO) Mr Bainito advised that, before selling any farm produce to a buyer, the farmer has to do gross margin for his production including all costs so as to settle at the minimum selling price for the produce. This came amidst call by the Ministry of Agriculture to have all brokers registered with HCDA for them to buy any product from the farmers.

Farmers being taken through gross Margin analysis exercise at MOA grounds. Photo by Samuel Nzioka.
"There has been a long time tred by brokers to exploit the farmers... this will not be the case when they register with HCDA... we will be able to monitor the prices so as to save the farmers". said the officer in charge on an interview with NCV crew.

The officer also urged farmers to cooperate with his ministry to solve the market curtails which has seen many farmers suffer losses due to poor prices and lack of marketing strategies.