Mt.Elgon journalists decry poor working conditions

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By Isabella Maua
Journalists working within Mt.Elgon region of Western Kenya have lamented over unfavorable working conditions that lead to compromise in the delegation of their duties.

While addressing thier grievances before the Bungoma Deputy governor during the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day at Bungoma; the journalists highlighted numerous challenges that have jeopardized their functionality and co existence in society.

“Among other limitations, we have undergone attack from the public and humiliation from politicians while pursuing stories in the field,” said one of the journalists.

Jimmy Simiyu, a veteran journalist in Western region reminisced one of the attacks he survived from supporters of a prominent politician in the area after the principal declined to give his opinion on a matter of public interest.

“In 2021 I was threatened by one of the politicians in office and later attacked by his supporters because I wasn’t given a right to reply and since the story was of public interest I covered it,” recalled Simiyu.
“It is demoralizing for us when we go to the field but can’t provide coverage confidently and fairly since you never know whom to look out for nor when another attack will be lingering around,” Simiyu lamented.

On the other hand, Mt. Elgon being a rich area in terms of resources, but has much left untapped because the journalists lack sufficient equipment to highlight pressing matters.

Jesse Chenge a renowned journalist requested the County leadership as well as willing leaders to empower journalists and make them self sufficient since many media houses either don’t give contracts to them or pay poorly.

“Most of us are working under unfavorable conditions especially in this region; besides solely relying on equipment we hire or are given by media houses; having our own will make us generate more income and better our living standards,” Chenge remarked.

He also requested the County government to erect an ICT hub at Mt. Elgon in the quest to easen the laborious work of media personalities around the vicinity.
“The hub will lighten our burden of travelling all the way to Bungoma to package the stories covered at Mt. Elgon and sharing them on timely basis,” he reiterated.

Poor road infrastructure in the rugged terrain and slopy region of Mt. Elgon has also posed a risk to members of the fourth estate while travelling interior mostly to highlight the plight of inhabitants there.

Eric Lumbasi who’s the representative of Bungoma journalists called upon the County government to consider giving grant to the members to support them further their education and sharpen their knowledge and skills in this digitalised dynamic world.

Bungoma Deputy governor Janepher Mbatiany who graced the occasion vowed that her government will work coexistently with media and urged them to keep working diligently and fairly.

“I understand the selflessness and passion you work with and being a product of media I’ll remain indebted to you, our governor has also pledged to give priority to you when any opportunities come along,” she affirmed.

Even as the world continues holding commemorations for press freedom it’s not yet uhuru for most of its members.

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