How colleague chewed funds for Covid-19 isolation centre
Monday, July 6th, 2020
Whoever said that whenever a couple is having an argument, one of them is right and the other is the husband could as well be describing my tiffs with Mama Hirohito.
You probably recall our latest row that led to her giving me a silent treatment for almost a week.
This was because I attended an anti-governor meeting yet she believes the he is our benefactor.
She had the last laugh when we were arrested and locked up for attending an illegal meeting.
Well, last week I had a chance to atone for my sins. The governor was going to launch a Covid-19 isolation centre in MCA Matayo’s ward.
“I should attend the event,” I told Mama Hiro. “I’m sure the governor will be pleased to see me.”
“Baba Hiro, why doesn’t such wisdom visit you more often?” she asked, giving me a wry smile. “You need to mend fences with him, and attending the event is a step towards that direction.”
I called MCA Matayo to inform him I would be his guest on that day.
“By all means, come, Gwinso. I need your support.”
My colleague sounded very delighted and he had all the reasons to be. A school in his ward had been chosen to host the largest Covid-19 isolation facility in the county.
This was in an effort to reach the 300-bed capacity target by July 7. Since this was an emergency of sorts, procurements rules were not observed—Matayo was fully in charge of furnishing the facility. Of course his closeness to the governor had something to do with this.
I arrived at the venue of the event just before the governor’s entourage drove in. He was accompanied by members of the health and sanitation committee.
You should have seen the way Matayo bowed in reverence in front of the county boss. He fell short of kneeling! From the size of the crowd, I could tell that this was an invite-only event.
Interestingly, Matayo had organised a small choir to entertain the guests. As the singers belted out tunes in praise of the governor, I lowered my face mask and made my way towards the governor. I knew he had not recognised me in the crowd.
“Ah, Gwinso, you are also here?” he was clearly surprised to see me.
“I am the one who invited him,” Matayo, who was next to him, blurted out. “He is now a good boy,” he added and laughed uproariously. Thankfully, nobody else joined him.
“Gwinso, we can work together. Don’t be misled by my enemies. They will just use and dump you,” said the governor.
“And have you thanked the governor for rescuing you from the police cells the other day?” Matayo asked.
The people seated around looked at me as if seeing me for the first time. The governor came to my rescue by remarking that we had already talked.
The entertainment session over, it was time for speeches. MCA Matayo was the first to speak.
I was still embittered by his attempts to humiliate me, so I decidedly ignored his speech. It was however when I heard my name mentioned that I became alert.
“MCA Gwinso is with us here. He has finally seen the light and is now a staunch supporter of our governor,” said he. “Bwana MCA, please wave to the people.”
I reluctantly raised one arm.
When the governor rose to speak, he did not say much but praised Matayo for his willingness to undertake the project at short notice.
Soon it was time to officially open the facility. We all walked to the building, the school hall.
The governor cut the ribbon amidst a loud applause. He then pushed the door open and we were ushered into the building. To our utter shock, the room was full of double decker beds.
“Is this the Isolation centre?” asked the governor.
“Yes, Sir,” answered Matayo confidently.
“But these are normal school dormitory beds! Did you follow the specifications you were given?” asked the chair of the health committee.
“Well, I thought it would take too long to make that 300 wooden beds. You just know these fundis.”
“What about the money you were given?” asked the governor.
“I...I…I used it to hire the beds.”
“This cannot be an isolation centre,” declared the chair. “There is no social distancing, and those beds are meant for students, not adults.”
Having declared the room unacceptable, the team left in a huff. I had never seen Matayo looking so miserable. Shauri yake. – [email protected]