They often come in late, but the numbers are out. Kenya’s six-month incursion into Somalia in pursuit of Al Shabaab terrorists have cost the taxpayer more than Sh12 billion — at least going by the latest Supplementary Budget estimates.
This is the money that the Treasury is seeking to top up whatever has already been spent on the mission that began last October in response to a series of Somalia militants’ abductions of foreigners deep inside the Kenyan territory.
The one thing that release of such massive figures effectively does is to remind the tax paying citizens of the huge cost of waging a war.
At Sh12 billion, Kenya’s expenditure on the war could employ on permanent and pensionable terms an additional 10,000 teachers for the grossly understaffed schools.
It could build and equip five hospitals the size of recently finished Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Nairobi’s Umoja estate or get Nairobi a state-of the art technology research centre.
Most Kenyans remember that when the war effort in Somalia was launched, the Kenyan public was duly informed that it was our reply to the insecurity that the terrorists had caused upon our country.
That taking the war to Al Shabaab’s backyard was the right thing to do, complete with indications that our soldiers had their eyes on the Somalia port of Kismayu — the nerve centre of the militants’ operations.
Six months later, and more Sh12 billion down the line, enthusiasm for this war has diminished, and the military is no longer feeling compelled to brief the citizens of the situation.
Kenya has negotiated its way into the United Nations-backed peacekeeping operation in Somalia, but Al Shabaab maintains its grip on key towns, including the port of Kismayu, and Kenyan citizens live under constant threat of terrorist attacks.
All this begs the one important question as to whether the planners of this incursion have sat back to weigh the value to the citizens of this Somalia adventure and whether a different approach that did not necessarily involve deep forays into the neighbouring state would have served us better.
Wouldn’t it have been more strategic and grossly less costly to have just directed our energy in securing out borders and hunting down the terrorists within?
Source: Business Daily 17.04.2012