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Kenyans angry over power outages and higher NTSA charges

 Introduction

This week’s trend analysis shows that many hashtags trended for more than 21 hours with thousand tweets as the public engaged through discussions, sharing and retweeting. The trend analysis report looks at #KPLC and Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen due to the countrywide blackout that became a source of national concern.

 

1 #KPLC, #JKIA, #Resign                                                      

On Sunday, December 10, 2023, the country experienced nationwide power blackout from 8pm paralysing some crucial services including at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This is the third time the country is experiencing power outage within three months as Kenya Power promised to solve the issue. On August 25, the power outage was worse as it lasted for almost 24 hours. On November 11, it took KPLC 12 hours to restore power. JKIA attracted public’s interest since it is the regional hub and can be incredibly busy as the main aerial entrance to the country. Any electricity failure poses a threat to national security and injures the reputation of the airport and the country. Following the blackout, Cabinet Secretary for Roads, Transport, and Public works Kipchumba Murkomen alongside his counterparts were criticised for incompetence while a section of Kenyans called for their resignation. However, Murkomen said that incident at JKIA was sabotage and called upon the police to do investigations to uncover those behind the repeat incidents at JKIA.

Impact on Media

The power outage led to immediate media coverage from different angles. The hashtag #KPLC gained online traction with 44,000 tweets, trending for more than 21 hours.  Calls for the CS’s resignation on the other hand garnered 68,000 tweets indicating wider surge and engagement by the public with prolonged discussions on social media platforms. Online users, too, created memes that were shared on social media platforms to ridicule government incompetency.

#Murkomen, #Cherargei

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei slammed Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen for his utterances that power failure at JKIA was sabotage and called on him to apologise to the public following the national power outage and failure of standby generators. Cherargei also criticised the CS for instructing police to carry out investigations at the airport.

Impact on Media

The public is always attracted to differences touching politicians leading to increase news consumption with diverse discussions. Cherargei’s criticism of Murkomen and calls for an apology hightened online engagement with 20,000 tweets trending for more than 21 hours. In the recent past politicians aligned to government have publicly disagreed with some of the policies taken by the same government.

#NTSA

The proposed new charges by the National Transport and Safety Authority gained significant attention, marking a prominent trend throughout the day. The authority announced drastic increases in charges by more than 100 per cent to offset a financial deficit of more than Sh2.37 billion. This left Kenyans in shock and ignited discussions with criticism online. Among the 45 services to cost more include registration of a motor vehicle, change of colour of a motor vehicle from Sh500 to Sh20,000, obtaining a normal number plate from NTSA would cost Sh5,000 compared to Sh3,000, a PSV badge would go for Sh1,500 from Sh1,000.

Impact on Media

With the tough economic times hitting most Kenyans hard, media outlets tend to highlight such news of public interest to generate further engagement. The media has a responsibility to ensure they provide detailed analyses of the issues without being sensational. NTSA trended for more than 21 hours indicating a high level of audience engagement and the interest the topic generated. Such engagements on very pertinent issues of public interest reveal the importance or lack of government in engaging the public before rolling out changes.

#Visa, #JamhuriDay

On Tuesday, December 12 during Jamhuri Day celebrations, President William Ruto announced Kenya as a visa-free country to all visitors from across the world starting January 2024. The decision ignited online engagement with 51,000 tweets as the public questioned the rationale of the pronunciation in relation to border security. However, the President mentioned that his government has developed a digital platform to ensure all visitors receive an electronic travel authorisation in advance.

Impact on media

The announcement led to a rapid and immediate stream in media coverage with extensive reporting and further engagement through interviews on the decision by the President. The prolonged engagement on social media platforms reflects strong interest and active participation by the public on national matters and this keeps the government on toes.

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