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Questions scribes didn’t ask about ailing ex-soldier in Parliament

The story of former Kenya Airforce officer Isaiah Ochanda demands action. The Standard reported him lying in bed as he explained to a parliamentary committee his disappointment over delayed Sh22 million compensation, 37 years since he suffered spinal and fracture injuries during a training session.

Writer Julius Chepkwony reported how Ochanda, who was relieved of his duties, had to be wheeled into Parliament, having been driven from his Athi River residence accompanied by caregivers, his wife and son.

Despite the risk and the cost involved, the issue raises concern on whether it is a must for persons with such sensitive injuries to be ferried all the way to Parliament for a committee hearing.

Ochanda’s experience evokes some humanitarian questions that prompt journalists to find out whether parliamentary rules have flexible provisions that could allow for other means of interviewing persons who are under palliative care. Or whether they can be developed, if none exist.

The episode brings to memory February 2003, when President Mwai Kibaki had to open his first Parliament on a wheelchair, following his landslide win in the December 2002 election.

Kibaki was brought to Parliament under the watchful eye of Dr Dan Gikonyo, his personal physician.

Bringing into parallel these two incidents, and with the advancement of technology since Kibaki’s time, would it have been more humane to interview the officer at the comfort of his home? Or even talk to him online?

Someone who has suffered spinal injury requires highest degree of precautions when engaging him in public places.

Instead of increasing his risk, could the committee concerned have made good use of the mileage allowance provided to them, to visit the former officer’s home and conduct their session? If a home visit were not possible, what about exploring a virtual discussion?

On Ochanda’s delayed payment, while the story gave the legal chronology of events after the officer’s accident in 1987, a side bar story on what the law says regarding compensation of a KDF officer who sustains lifelong injuries in the course of duty, could have helped a great deal to shed more light on the matter.

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