Sunday, 15 April 2018

Kenneth Matiba: A man of many firsts

Kenneth Matiba, then KenyaĆ¢€™s Minister for Culture and Social Services with legendary boxer Mohammed Ali when he visited Kenya in 1980. PHOTO | FILE | Kenneth Matiba, then Kenya’s Minister for Culture and Social Services with legendary boxer Mohammed Ali when he visited Kenya in 1980. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

16.04.2018

By JOHN KAMAU
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Kenneth Matiba was a man of many firsts. From becoming one of the youngest permanent secretaries to climbing the Himalayas, Mr Matiba was well-grounded in what he did.
On May 18, 1963 – and aged only 31 – Mr Matiba was summoned to the office of the colonial Permanent Secretary for Education, Mr David Gregg, who had good news for the young man: he was to be appointed the new PS in the ministry.
“I was astounded,” Mr Matiba later remarked.
As the first black PS in the ministry, which was then housed at Gill House, Mr Matiba was to oversee the africanisation of the education sector.
GRATITUDE
The next morning, Mr Matiba was taken to Government House (now State House)  where he met Duncan Ndegwa and Kitili Mwendwa. They had also come for their letters because in just a month, Jomo Kenyatta was to take over as the new Prime Minister.
“For that privilege I felt that I had to commit myself to serving all Kenyans and show my gratitude in a tangible way,” he wrote in his autobiography, Aiming High.
At first, Mr Matiba had thought of following his father’s footsteps as a teacher  and after leaving Makerere in 1960, he had decided that he wanted to teach in north eastern Kenya before moving to teacher training college. That was his ambition.
But this plan never worked after the Ministry of Education turned down his choice and he was posted to Kangaru Secondary School in Embu. But after only six months he was appointed deputy officer in charge of higher education at the Ministry of Education.
PERPLEXED
“My position was so crucial that no passport could be issued to any student going overseas without my signature,” said Mr Matiba
It was at this position that Mr Matiba met many students who would later be influential.
It was when he became a permanent secretary for Home Affairs that he got to work with Daniel arap Moi who was the minister. The two were bosom friends and when Mr Moi decided to jail Mr Matiba for his stand on multi-party politics, his friends were perplexed.
But it was at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives that Mr Matiba started dealing with investors and he was thrown to various boardrooms where the government had interests.
While Mr Matiba deliberately refused to buy shares in companies where he could have conflict of interest, he watched as his friends made wealth through kickbacks. Rather than stay, he decided to quit and go into business.
JADINI HOTELS
It was in 1968 after he joined Kenya Breweries that he bought the Jadini Hotels in Mombasa. By this time, he had learnt about the hotel industry having been the director of Kenya Tourist Development Corporation which also gave him an opportunity to be on the board of Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.
At Jadini, Mr Matiba tested his survival skills in the hospitality sector. Every weekend, together with his business partner Stephen Smith, he would arrive at Jadini at 3am and the site meeting would start at 7am. They would then start the journey to Nairobi at 2pm!
But it was his climbing of the Himalayas — when he was Minister for Works — and walking from Nairobi to Muranga to raise funds, that catapulted Matiba to new heights. Mr Matiba managed to plant the Kenyan flag at the Island Peak, becoming the first Kenyan to do so.
At the Cabinet, Mr Matiba was known as the hard-working minister. Once, when he was Minister for Health, he ordered a clean up of the headquarters.
HOBBY
“I cannot tolerate filth wherever I am. I would personally clean toilets rather than leave them dirty,” he once told a reporter.
Before he joined politics, Mr Matiba was also an astute farmer.
“The farming I undertook at Limuru was something like a hobby,” he says in Aiming High.
Mr Matiba had first tried a pig project in Limuru and was at one time one of the largest African pig producers in the country, specialising in the production of porkers. The pig project collapsed after one of his workers overfed the animals and they all became too fat.
“In the end, the pig project had to close down. By then I was losing money. Luckily, it was not too difficult to sell the pigs…at give-away prices. I discovered that many entrepreneurs felt embarrassed and uneasy about a failing business,” Matiba would later say.
VEGETABLES
From pigs, Mr Matiba moved to growing vegetables in his Limuru farm where his wife, Edith, had been experimenting with capsicums and courgettes. It was this business that led them to the export business. The Matibas then learnt there was market for French beans and he investigated how the fruit, vegetable and flower business worked. Soon, he became a direct exporter and at one point he was the largest producer of French beans.
His only disappointment then was with the East African Airways which was going through serious problems and at times his cargo would be left behind. This forced him to rethink the vegetable business which was not making money. 
The cargo problems persisted to an extent that Mr Matiba decided to start an air freight airline. He even registered a company known as African International Airways and invited Mr John Michuki and Mr Charles Njonjo into the venture. This was during the days of East African Community and all the three countries operated a single airline.
65,000 POUNDS
Mr Matiba and his group managed to get an aircraft, a Britannia, and it was flown to Nairobi for inspection.  It was to cost them 65,000 pounds. But the matter was leaked to a Tanzanian paper which claimed that the Kenya government had overthrown East African Airways and wanted to register a new airline. The group decided not to go ahead with the project because it was complicating relations within the East African Community.
Mr Matiba was encouraged to go into flower farming by his two friends across the valley in Limuru who were exporting them to Europe. He had to convince the Agriculture Finance Corporation to give him a loan to start the project. It was this business that thrived and Matiba became one of the leading flower farmers in Kenya.
12,350 ACRES
Mr Matiba also took the lead in the 1970s when he helped form Wangu Investments Company Limited.
The initial aim was to buy shares in various public companies which they could then sell and buy land.
In 1977, Mr Matiba learnt that a Timau farmer, Mr Robert Wilson, was selling his 12,350-acre piece of land. But because many cooperative groups bought land and ran them down, Mr Wilson was not willing to sell to a group. The farm was good. It had 22,600 head of sheep, 2,500 beef animals and 700 pigs.
STILL THRIVES
The selling price was a staggering Sh34.4 million.
When Mr Matiba said he did not have that kind of money, Mr Wilson told him that he hoped that he would not organise for a co-operative to buy it. Mr Matiba assured Wilson that it would be a public company and that the farm would be run as it was.
Wangu is still surviving to date and still thrives – when all other big farms have collapsed. It was Mr Matiba’s gift to his Kiharu residents.

As an icon for multiparty democracy, Matiba had his day

Kenneth Matiba
Mr Kenneth Matiba demonstrates how he exercises. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

16.April 2018

By JOHN KAMAU
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Being the first Cabinet minister to ever resign in Kenya, Mr Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba became the symbol of defiance of Kanu’s brutal years and for the last 26 years, he carried the weight of that brutality in person.
The Daniel Moi regime not only wrecked his health, but his business empire, and by the time he died on Sunday, aged 86, he had disappeared from the limelight having lost to auctioneers all the hotels and schools he had built in his youth.
Mr Matiba not only lost his Alliance Hotels but also the prestigious Hillcrest Group of Schools – all worth billions of shillings.
Last year, the High Court ordered that Mr Matiba be paid Sh945 million compensation for damages and violations he suffered and for expenses incurred for his medication.
DEMOCRACY
Born in June 1932 in Kahuhia, Murang’a, Mr Matiba was daring in all things that he did.
And of all the icons of the multiparty democracy, he stood out not because of his wealth, but because of his charisma.
Unlike his Makerere University friends, Mr Matiba was a late entrant into politics and had also surprised many by leaving the civil service at a young age.
Actually, Mr Matiba had been approached to run for the Kiharu seat in 1961 but he felt he was not in a position to unseat the late Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano.
In 1963, he was again under pressure to run against Dr Kiano but he had just been appointed a permanent secretary.
Kenneth Matiba
Mr Kenneth Matiba (left) with politician Raila Odinga during a past function. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
EABL
But rather than join politics, Mr Matiba quit the civil service and joined Kenya Breweries in August 1968, first as personal assistant to Managing Director Brian Hobson and in his third year, he was appointed the general manager.
Mr Matiba’s leadership role was realised in 1977 when Michael Blundell, a veteran of settler politics, was set to retire as the chairman of East African Breweries and Mr Matiba was asked to take over.
His entry into politics in 1979 was the most dramatic and the race in Mbiri, as it was then known, was the most watched. 
Finally, Mr Matiba managed to defeat Dr Kiano by polling 20,135 votes against Kiano’s 16,628.
It was in 1983 that he joined Moi’s Cabinet when he was appointed minister for Culture and Social Services.
“At no time had I ever aspired to be a Cabinet minister,” Mr Matiba would later remark; after all Mr Moi had not even consulted him on the appointment. 
He was then transferred to various ministries, Health, Transport and Public Works.
Kenneth Matiba
Kenneth Matiba died at Karen Hospital on April 15, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
SUPREMO
As Mr Matiba rose, there was fear in Kanu that he was eclipsing many of the politicos.
Mr Matiba was always afraid that he would become the victim of rigging and in 1988 he complained rather loudly about rigging in Kanu elections.
It was this 1988 rigging in Kanu that spawned the fallout between Mr Moi and Mr Matiba and on December 9, 1989 when President Moi was about to receive guests for the Tenth anniversary of Nyayo era, Mr Matiba drafted a resignation letter and had it dropped at Office of the President.
It was a first for a Cabinet Minister who was protesting an attack by Mr Peter Oloo Aringo, then-Kanu chairman, and Mr James Njiru, the Minister for National Guidance.
Mr Matiba was angry that his fellow ministers had started a campaign against him.
“On my way home that evening, December 8, after thinking over all these things, I made up my mind.
"I was going to resign my Cabinet post. Clearly, I could not see myself sitting at the table with Aringo and Njiru,” Mr Matiba later said.
DETENTION
While he had thought of keeping a low profile, security agents followed him everywhere and was constantly interrogated.
“I had kept a low profile and refused to engage in politics, yet I was being harassed. I had to make public my feelings about politics in Kenya,” Mr Matiba said on why he joined the call for multiparty politics.
It was this call that landed him in detention, where he suffered a stroke on May 26, 1991 but state officials were not bothered to get him medical help.
When they did – and they booked him as Mr Muchiri - it was too late. Mr Matiba had been in detention without medical care for a week.
Kenneth Matiba
President Uhuru Kenyatta visits former Cabinet minister Kenneth Matiba at a Nairobi hospital. FILE PHOTO | PSCU
ELECTION
Although he would return to run for the presidency and came second to President Moi, Mr Matiba achieved little success as an opposition leader.
His Ford-Asili party, once the official opposition was wrecked by defections and internal wrangles and finally Mr Matiba lost hold of the party and opted to form Saba Saba Asili, which was a shadow of the former party.
Matiba’s attempt to return to politics were futile and performed dismally. But as an icon for multiparty democracy, Mr Matiba had his day.

Brief news on agriculture and agribusiness from across the country

A farmer attends to his tissue culture banana seedlings in Embu.
A farmer attends to his tissue culture banana seedlings in Embu. Bomet County Government has kicked off the distribution of 100,000 tissue culture banana seedlings to farmers across its five sub-counties. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

13.04.2018

By SATURDAY NATION TEAM
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Farmers get cheaper banana seedlings
Bomet County government has kicked off the distribution of 100,000 tissue culture banana seedlings to farmers across its five sub-counties.
Governor Joyce Laboso said her administration had subsidised the cost of the suckers given to farmers to boost food security.
The county used Sh12.5 million to purchase the seedlings from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the farmers will pay only Sh50 per seedling.
“Each of the 25 wards in the county will receive 4,000 seedlings for distribution to farmers to enable them diversify food production both for domestic and commercial purposes,” said the governor, who was speaking at Rotu farm in Kaplomboi in Sotik sub county this week.
She said that in the next financial year, her administration would set aside a similar amount to enable them distribute another round of suckers across Sotik, Konoin, Chepalungu, Bomet East and Bomet Central sub-counties.
The governor said that the aim of the project was to make Bomet a banana bread basket.
– Anita Chepkoech
****
Key agriculture meet to be held next week
The second conservation agriculture conference will be held next week from Tuesday in Nairobi.
The two-day event is expected to bring together over 350 participants from government (both national and county), NGOs and academia.
Issues that will be discussed include fall of armyworm attack and climate change. Myra Bernardi, Head of Agriculture from European Union Delegation to Kenya, said conservation agriculture would help farmers tackle current challenges.
Deputy President William Ruto will be the chief guest.
– Boniface Mwangi
****
Farmers tipped on best seeds for highlands
Farmers have been asked to use certified maize seeds to be able to curb pests and diseases.
SeedCo managing director Kassim Owino said that right seeds makes the difference in farming.
He noted that there were new seed varieties from the company for the highlands producing over 30 bags per acre. The three varieties were named as KH621A, KH621A (TWIGA 81 and TWIGA 83) and Tembo 73.
According to Owino, for the highlands, a spacing of either 25 by 75cm or 30 by 60cm is recommended.
He warned that if a farmer fails to plant in each hole, he will lose plants from each of those positions and compromise yields.
Major problems facing maize farmers include diseases like Maize Lethal Mecrosis Disease (MLMD) and Fall armyworm invasion.
“The solution for MLMD lies in seed breeding and I think so far there are two varieties that have been released,” noted Owino. With armyworms, he recommend the use of Corragen, March, Scant and Belt pesticides, which have shown strong results in controlling the pest.
Trans Nzoia executive in-charge of agriculture, Mary Nzomo, said the county governments is taking measures to control the pest.
– Gerald Bwisa

Why fibre service providers need to head downstream

fibre opticWorkers lay a fibre optic cable at Chepkanga on the Eldoret-Iten road on June 18, 2015. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

14.April 2018

In the past half-decade, Kenya has seen a surge in high-speed broadband adoption with the country’s internet users growing exponentially.
In 2010, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) said the total available bandwidth capacity was 202,720 megabits per second (Mbps). In 2016, this number had grown to 2 million, a nine-fold increase in broadband capacity.
During the same period, fixed fibre optic data subscriptions to homes and businesses have grown, reducing the cost of connectivity, and allowing more homes and businesses to be connected.
EASTLANDS
However, despite this triumph in the number of internet adoption across the board, many high-populated parts of Nairobi city centre, generally referred to as “River Road” and mainly residential Eastlands area, still remain underserved by the high-speed fibre grid. The divide is worse in smaller towns and rural areas.
Laying of cable in Nairobi and other major towns has targeted upmarket residential and businesses areas, leaving out places not considered economically attractive. It is assumed that upmarket areas will adopt services faster and spend more.
Given the informal nature of most businesses in Nairobi’s “River Road”, it is assumed that the owners would not spend like those in upmarket areas. However, there is no evidence that, provided with infrastructure, these businesses would not match upmarket businesses in monthly spend.
GDP
These neglected businesses and residential areas offer a huge untapped potential for high value connections that can not only reap benefits to service providers, but also yield more contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.
On the business front, this vast and busy area of Nairobi that includes Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets moving outwards to Kamukunji and Gikomba marketing districts are characterised by small and micro businesses that form a huge part of the city’s economic output. 
A research conducted by the Communications Authority of Kenya and the KNBS in 2016 looking into how businesses access the internet in their operations found a lower capacity down the scale.
While 97 and 92 per cent of large and medium enterprises reported using fixed broadband, the proportion was much lower among micro-enterprises at 71 per cent.
SIM CARDS
This further translated into limited connectivity within small and micro businesses. While 93 per cent of large businesses reported having a local area network, only 40 per cent of micro-enterprises reported the same.
This is important because research has shown that for internet connectivity to have transformative value to users, size and speed matters beyond just connectivity.    
The Alliance for Affordable Internet, a coalition of countries in Africa to which Kenya is a major participant, recently advised African countries to revise measurements for evaluating internet connectivity from merely counting the individual number of SIM cards purchased but also looking at how many users can afford 1 Gigabyte (GB) of data per month at less than 2 per cent of their monthly income.
EVOLVING
This is because 1GB of data spread over a month is the amount considered to provide meaningful value to the user. Higher internet speeds and broadband capacity would mean faster transactions for online marketing – popular by the vast number of clothing, beauty and make-up accessories shops spread in downtown Nairobi.
Sustainable high-speed fibre networks also lay the foundation of evolving business practices such as teleconferencing and cloud computing to take root. For some businesses, interconnecting their small shops (exhibition stalls) will allow them to save on manpower, general running costs and allow them to open more shops.
For the big telecom infrastructure players, laying the fibre will allow them to get faster returns but smaller businesses can overlay over these services. For instance, with the reduction in connectivity costs, smaller wifi companies have come up, providing even cheaper services to users paying Sh2,000 or less per month.
GEOPOL
In the home Internet space, demand for high-speed fibre has been boosted by the increased subscriptions to multimedia streaming services.  Service providers such as Netflix and ShowMax have ramped up their offerings in Kenya to tap into this demand. Media monitoring site Geopol recently found that users are increasingly using their smart phones as second screens in their homes.
The vast population in Nairobi’s Eastlands provides a big opportunity for service providers to plug residential estates such as Buru Buru, Umoja, Doonholm, Ruai, Kasarani, Mwiki and Kayole to high-speed fibre networks.
AIR CONDITIONED
It is high time service providers, both the existing ones and new market entrants, shifted their focus downstream.
Ability to spend can no longer be determined by air conditioned offices or well paved residential roads. It is time to test Nairobi’s “River Road” area in terms of spend and ability to adopt new technology.
The writer is the CEO, Fireside Group rebecca@fireside.co.ke

Floods death toll rises as rains intensify

Floods
A trailer is stuck in a flooded road at Kamandura flyover, Limuru, on Nakuru-Naivasha highway on April 14, 2018 due to heavy rains. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

14.April 2018

By NATION TEAM
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As heavy rains will continue to be experienced around the country, especially in the northern and south eastern regions, the death toll from floods continues to rise.
On Saturday, a man was swept away by raging floods as he attempted to cross a flooded road in Charidende,  Tana River County.
The death brings to at least six the number of people killed in the county, which has been the most affected, with three others missing in Samburu County.
Narok County also experienced heavy downpour in the last one week raisng fears of a humanitarian crisis in the affected areas.
DISRUPT
In Tana River, at least 1,500 families have been displaced with 3,000 others already in camps as the effects of flooding continue to be felt.
More than 300 families are also reported to be stranded in Nanigi Village within the county. A boat bought by the county government to aid in rescue operations has not done much.
Traders in the county are also counting losses following the heavy rains that have disrupted transport and their businesses.
Some roads have become impassable. Among them is the Garissa-Malindi road.
As a result of the breakdown in road transport, some traders have been forced to increase prices of basic commodities.
SH120
A kilo of sugar is now selling at Sh120 from Sh90, an egg at Sh20 from Sh15, and a kilo of maize flour is selling at Sh65 from Sh50.
Horticultural produce traders have been the most affected as their products perish on the road, incurring huge losses.
Trucks with manufactured goods have been forced to drive back to Garissa.
Habiba Abdullahi, a green grocer in Hola told the Nation that she expected her goods from Nairobi three days ago but the impassable roads have cut the links forcing the truck to drive back to the city.
“The truck came but upon reaching the road and found it impassable, it went back. We may be forced to use the Mombasa route, which is expensive and by the time the goods get here, they may not be in good state, “she said.
SWEPT AWAY
Hotel owners fear that if the current situation persists, they will have to hike food prices.County Executive for Roads  Stephen Wachira told the Nation that they are working closely with the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to repair the roads as they try to open another access route to the county.
In Turkana County, transport along the busy Kitale-Lodwar highway was paralysed after River Turkwel burst its banks, sweeping away two trucks at the dangerous Kainuk drift.
The trucks were transporting goods to Lodwar from Kitale in Trans-Nzoia County.
Mr Patrick Lokaapa, a resident of Kainuk Town, said one of the trucks was swept away on Friday morning while the other one was overpowered by raging waters on Thursday evening.
NARROW DRIFT
So far, four trucks have been swept away at Kainuk since the heavy rains started a week ago.
Mr Lokaapa said most drivers often misjudge the intensity of water on the narrow drift.
“The drift was constructed last year by KeNHA for use by heavy commercial vehicles to reduce pressure on the existing bridge, currently left for light vehicles. It’s unreliable. We need a bridge at Kainuk,” he said.
The bridge is a critical infrastructure for Turkana County which relies on neighbouring counties, especially Trans-Nzoia, for food supply.
SUSWA
On Sunday, transport along the Lodwar-Lokichogio highway was cut-off for more than 15 hours after the Kawalase drift was flooded.
An Eldoret Express bus and a pick-up truck were washed away. Residents rescued more than 50 passengers who included children.
KeNHA has since cautioned motorists and locals to be careful while approaching Kainuk, Kawalase and Kalemngorok drifts.
The agency warned drivers not to cross the drifts when they are flooded.
In Narok, perennial flash floods have become the order of the day in Suswa on the Narok-Mai Mahiu road.
Reported by Stephen Oduor, Sammy Lutta and George Sayagie

Bishops propose radical changes to the presidency

CORRUPTIONCardinal John Njue (left) and Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Chairman Philip Anyolo hold a news conference in Ruaraka on April 14, 2018. They denounced corruption in the country. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

14.April 2018


By AGEWA MAGUT
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Catholic bishops on Friday called for a national conference to discuss electoral reforms and the review of the constitution for an expanded executive.
The bishops said that the conference should be an extension of the political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, whom they asked to show more commitment to the handshake deal.
“We call for an all-inclusive roundtable conference that will iron out all the differences that have been separating Kenyans.
"Among the matters that need urgent attention is the review of the constitution in light of the contentious issues that emerged during the recent elections,” retired Rev Phillip Anyolo, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) chairman said in Nairobi.
VIOLENCE
The bishops suggested that the presidency be structured in a way that will make it above political parties to prevent the bitter rivalries and conflicts that have arisen in 2007 as well as 2017 due to elections.
Speaking during the conference’s State of the Nation address, the priests condemned the ongoing campaign for various political seats ahead of the 2022 general election.
“We find the 2022 succession politics extremely unhealthy, retrogressive, time-wasting and very selfish,” Rt Rev Anyolo.
CORRUPTION
The clerics also condemned corruption in the country, calling for the immediate punishment of corrupt parties within the national and county governments.
They noted that the vice is rampant in the counties, where tribalism is practised openly and government officials hire their relatives and cronies.
“It is no longer about service delivery and professionalism but ‘our turn to eat’.
"County governments must be held accountable for the money they have received and has not been utilised for the purpose intended,” he added.
PROSECUTION
He said that Kenya should follow the examples of Brazil and South Korea, which have prosecuted crooked leaders, including former presidents, for their corrupt dealings.
The clergy further asked Kenyans to desist from facilitating graft.
Vice chairman John Oballa Owaa said it was sad that Kenyans have to use patronage to access government services.
He cited the recent saga whereby 130 people were conned into buying fake admission letters during the Kenya Defence Forces recruitment.
The clergymen also pointed out the sorry state of the Police service.
Police officers have also been urged to shun all forms of corruption in a bid to improve their image.
A programme to instil moral and humane values to the service was suggested.
Kenya currently ranks 143rd out 180 countries in the Transparency International’s annual corruption index that was released in February this year.
SOURCE

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Saw millers, schools hit hard as logging ban enters second month










By BERNARDINE MUTANU

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By LEONARD ONYANGO
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Life has not been smooth for thousands of people and institutions who depend on forests since the ban on logging came into effect in February.
Schools, hospitals, the National Youth Service, prisons, saw millers, tea factories, the construction industry, wood carvers, Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Forest Service are among the institutions badly hit by the ban.
According to a KFS official, around 1.5 million people who depend on forest resources have been affected by the moratorium.
“KFS revenues have plunged,” the officer, who did not wish to be named, told the Nation.
He added that the organisation gets an estimated Sh4.5 billion annually from forests and forest resources.
“We rely a lot on mature trees but revenues have gone down since the ban took effect,” he said.
The low collections may hit the more than 5,000 KFS workers, including 2,800 rangers, hard.
FIREWOOD
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko in February said the agency collected more than Sh3 billion from forests and forest resources in 2017.
Schools, the military, hospitals, NYS and prisons use firewood to prepare meals.
“Some schools ended first term early because they lacked firewood. There will be a crisis in second term if the ban on logging is not lifted because teachers do not know where to get firewood,” a board member of a city school said.
A principal in a Makueni County school said firewood now costs three times its price just a few months ago.
“We used to get a truckload of firewood at Sh7,000 but it has shot up to Sh18,000. We are considering turning to gas,” the head teacher said.
He added that school budgets will go up since the moratorium also affects construction.
“Timber is a key component of construction. Schools are suffering,” he said, adding that locals were taking advantage of the ban since many pay fees in kind.
FOREST COVER
They take firewood to school instead of cash.
Saw millers say they have lost billions of shillings in just a month.
The ban on logging was meant to control depletion of forests.
Businesspeople now want the government to come clean on the ban.
“Authorities should specify which forest lands are covered by the ban,” Mr Joseph Koech, the vice chairperson of saw millers from Kuresoi South, North and Narok County said.
During an interview on Friday, Mr Koech said registered saw millers in the association have lost almost Sh50 million in one month.
He said the government should not ban logging on private land.
“There is a difference between community, government and private land. The orders were abrupt," he said.
“We were not made aware. The government should have given a notice to enable us get the logs and trees we had already felled.”
BUSINESS
Mr Koech added that the logs are being destroyed by insects and rain while others have been stolen.
He accused State officials enforcing the ban through harassment, saying they have been invading private land and carting away logs.
“We don’t know where they are taking them. Why are Administration Police officers trespassing on private property yet it is farmers who planted the trees on their pieces of land?” he asked.
Mr Casper Ng’etich, a member of the sacco, said the logs were becoming valueless.
“Some saw millers bought logs and split them. The timber is now losing value,” he said.
The millers say the ban left them confused as there was no official communication from KFS.
“We went to the concerned offices but they told us that they were not involved in the ban,” Mr Ng’etich said.
LOSSES
They now want the National Assembly and Senate to compel Mr Tobiko to allow the collection of logs felled on private lands before the ban came into effect.
“We handed a petition to the National Assembly through Nominated MP Gideon Keter,” Rural Saw millers Association chairman Samuel Cherorot said.
According to the petition, security officers have been using the ban to brutalise millers.
They cite the demolition of a wooden structure by an deputy county commissioner.
They also claim police officers have been harassing carpenters found with fresh timber.
“Saw millers risk losing plots, livestock, machinery and other property to banks and other financial institutions as we cannot service our loans,” the petition adds.
PERMITS
According to the saw millers, loggers destroying Mau Forest are outsiders “who obtain permits illegally”.
“The intention of the ban was good but we are being punished for the mess created by others,” Mr Koech, a former Kiptagich councillor, said.
He added that people who depend on forest resources are not able to buy food, pay school fees or meet other family requirements.
Mr Keter blamed KFS “for giving logging permits to more than two companies owned by one corrupt person at the expense of locals”.
He said commercialisation of forest reserves is to blame for the destruction of the environment, adding that no local has ever been given a licence “yet they have been protecting the trees they planted”. 
“After the ban, we demand that 70 per cent of the allotted trees be given to locals for they understand the importance of conserving the environment,” he said.
The lawmaker said in order to ensure sustenance of conservation efforts, KFS should begin civic education and inform residents on the dangers of farming close to river banks.