Smarting from the grueling and money consuming campaigns, our members of parliament have been left a broke lot, and their push for higher pay is not a surprise to many. It is largely due to this that the clamour for higher pay has been prioritised by the honourable members, ever since the 11th Parliament started its current session. The People on Sunday has in one of its investigative bits, established that the lawmakers, especially the newly elected members have been living in squalor and want, pegging their hopes on wealthy colleagues and well-to-do friends.
Following the stalemate between the legislators and the Salaries and Renumerations Commission (SRC), their monthly pay has been withheld until after the matter is resolved. The MPs and the commission are currently entangled in a labour dispute, with the former demanding that the commission allows the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to determine the salaries. Owing to the foregoing, their three months salary has been put on hold, which has left majority, especially the youthful group, suffering from pecuniary embarassment.
Arising from this, the legislators have decided to put away the “honourable” tag to the extent of putting up in dingy hotels in downtown Nairobi. In our investigations we came across a group of seven MPs booking hotel rooms in a hotel in Ngara area where rooms are charged at Sh 1,000 a night. We further leant that the single rooms have the barest of amenities, such as towel and soap to bathe but the honourable members are forced to do with the situation. The group, from Northeastern, we later established prefers to take repose in cheap hotels and hideouts in Eastleigh, a suburb which is home to many of their tribesmen and women from their home region and neighbouring Somali.
What is interesting is most of this men of honour are not known to many and thus mingle freely with other “guests” in the hotels as they chat, awaiting the best time toretire.The poor lawmakers, we have since learnt, have been using optimally the facilities offered by parliament including the restaurant. The “poor” group has been taking breakfast and lunch from the restaurant where they sign for meals, whose cost is to be deducted from their monthly pay, but sadly have to skip supper many times. The MPs have become hardened and using their eloquence and negotiating prowess, manage to put at ease their many debtors, among them taxi drivers in town. A taxi operator we spoke to confirmed that most of “this group of customers” do not own vehicles and have made the taxis their only mode of transport.
“Unfortunately they do not settle their debts promptly, but knowing that they are MPs and will make money to settle the debts we have maintained the relations,” said a taxi driver who sought anonymity for fear of losing the clients. We were later to establish that some of the MPs, mainly women and youthful men, have been using matatus to shuttle between parliament and their hotels. This writer overheard three women MPs from Coast region planning how they would pay for their bus tickets back home.
“We have to contend with this until the time (Sarah) Serem decides on our salaries so that we can buy our own vehicles,” one lady MP told her colleagues in reference to the chairperson of the SRC’s stand on their pay. Apart from the old, wealthy and well to do lawmakers who drive limousines and fuel guzzlers such as Mercedes Benz, four wheel drive behemoths, the struggling group drives low end conveyances mostly Probox. In fact, at Parliament’s main gates, the MPs have been finding it rough convincing the police officers stationed there that they are, indeed, members of the respected House. During our survey, we found Kuresoi North MP, Moses Cheboi, an old hand in Parliament, convincing the police officers at the gates that two “harassed” men were, indeed, his colleagues.
Going by their humble station, it is unlikely the honourable members will stop their push for higher pay anytime soon. The lawmakers have been asking the SRC to revert to the salaries paid to the members of the 10th Parliament of Sh 851,000 and have them taxed instead of paying the proposed Sh 532,000 and, after tax, leave them with a meagre Sh 300,000 as take home pay. However, in an attempt to calm them, Serem has caved in to MPs demands for huge salaries and benefits, by first agreeing to allocate the MPs Sh5 million grant each to buy new luxury cars.
But the bit well appreciated by the MPs is the increased mileage rates, in which those driving petrol engine vehicles with capacities of between 2,000cc and 3,000cc would claim Sh109.80 per kilometre, while those with capacities of between 3,001cc and 4,800cc would rake in Sh197.80 for a similar distance. Lawmakers driving diesel engine vehicles rated between 2,000cc and 3,000cc would claim Sh84 per kilometre, while those driving cars with capacities of between 3,000cc and 4,800cc would claim Sh112.50.
By ANTHONY MWANGI
Source: The People