THE cynical, yet popular Kiswahili expression ‘nguvu ya soda’, relates to the hissing sound that is produced when a soft drinks bottle is opened. The sound lasts a few seconds; hence the expression, which essentially means that, a given action may seem earnest. In reality, however, it is misleading or downright meaningless.
Over the years, wananchi have witnessed virtually countless short-term operations, campaigns or crackdowns.
On the surface, these are well-intentioned, focused on injecting sanity where it seems to be lacking, or is lacking altogether.
In some cases, much energy, especially in terms of declarations and pronouncements have been made by leaders at the grassroots level and above.
Wananchi are told, or warned that, they should do this, that or the other, else suffer a set of sanctions.
A rational, effective and efficient approach to that end yields fantastic results. And, naturally, an improper approach would at best lead to unsatisfactory results, and at worst, outright failure.
A huge embarrassment that has often stared at us squarely in the face is the tendency to launch operations not as proactive, but reactive responses.
This, tragically, produces short-term results and then we are back to square one, literally waiting to swing into action when a problem or crisis recurs. Whenever cholera, a debilitating and killer disease strikes somewhere, authorities launch a campaign aimed at curbing it.
Components include urging wananchi to boil drinking water, and inspections are conducted in restaurants and outdoor food vending centres to ensure that high cleanliness standards are observed. Dirty ones are closed and fines imposed. When the situation normalizes, however, a back-to-square-one scenario emerges, to await, as it were, a recurrence of the killer disease!
Food outlets are doting several urban centres.
They are income generators for several people, which is okay. But some of them operate in unhygienic environments.
It is all very well when an operation or campaign is set in motion to tackle a given problem.
It is wrong, actually inexcusable recklessness, to relax when the problem is solved. The rational approach is to sustain a monitoring system, to guard against recurrence.
This is something to which the authorities concerned should give proper attention.
Health inspectors should conduct frequent inspections of food outlet centres, and local government leaders should ensure wnanchi under their jurisdiction keep their surroundings clean at all times. The unhelpful ‘nguvu ya soda’ approach should thus be avoided.