There’s one fool in this borrowing trip, and it is not our politicians

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By GABRIEL OGUDA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are in China to negotiate for another loan that will extend the standard gauge railway (SGR) line to the lakeside city of Kisumu, and onwards to the Kenya-Uganda border town of Malaba.

Those who went to school to study infrastructural development are telling us this borrowing spree is dangerous to our economic health as a country, and there is need to put a stop to it before we begin mortgaging our sovereignty to those who neither worked for it, nor were present when we earned it.

The financing of this modern snaking metal rod will sign our unborn babies up for a debt burden they know nothing about and for which they shall repay through their noses.

It is not the first time we are receiving this doomsday warning from those who are experts at predicting economic collapse.

If the SGR discussion topic was an African drum, it would have been ripped apart by now from excessive beating, and thrown out of the royal court for outliving its usefulness.

The amount of quality time Kenyans have spent ventilating on it is enough to boil a rock to tenderness, yet this SGR drum refuses to go away — and each time it remerges, it beats louder than a bomb explosion.

There has to be a reason why this drum is not biodegradable, and that reason can be found in our flip-flopping behaviour that is quickly turning into a national pastime.

When the SGR project was launched by President Kenyatta in October 2014, two opposing camps emerged from the ideological debate that consumed the mainstream discussion at that time.

You need to be privy to the background information for you to appreciate the sudden turn of events characteristic of these two camps currently.

Those who did not support the SGR project back then were collectively branded enemies of development and lords of poverty.

Questions about SGR financing and spending were roundly dismissed as jealous talk from sore losers.

Those who questioned the comparative cost of the mega project were told that the SGR was beyond their comprehension, upon which they received a tea-party invite to State House to benchmark with what was hailed as the most effective leadership duo since Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior.

This SGR opposition camp were categorical that the Jubilee government had put us on a dangerous road that was leading to political darkness and economic death.

They accused the Jubilee government of over borrowing, overspending, and overstealing — a situation they said had qualified Kenya for the champions league of corrupt nations.

They flatly refused to believe the SGR explanation coming from government, saying that when they got to power they would lock up all those responsible for inflating the cost of infrastructure projects in the country and throw their cell keys into the sea.

If principles had a face, it would have been those Kenyans who braved the morning showers and afternoon heat to vote for opposition politicians who would keep President Kenyatta in check during his second term.

It is barely five days since Jesus Christ rose from the dead and Kenyans already had an epiphany on this SGR issue.

The conversation has turned in an almost hilarious way. Those who had previously hailed the SGR as the greatest infrastructure project since the Great Wall of China are now weeping louder than the professional mourners of Migori.

They are apologising for swallowing cobbled-up facts from the government PR factory.

It is confession o’clock and they are camping on the President’s social media pages to make their feelings known that this extended borrowing will leave our pockets drier than a recycled joke.

Meanwhile, those who opposed this project from the beginning are now supporting the government’s quest for an extended loan facility to finance the SGR leg to Kisumu so loudly you would think they have a set of three lungs.

They say they also want to taste government largesse even if it kills them with debt repayment, and they can’t wait for the white smoke from Beijing to indicate that the money is coming through.

By now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Kenyan voter makes more somersaults than an Olympic gymnast.

It has often been said that until a fool changes his mind he shall never become wise, but it is difficult to see how changing your mind on this SGR matter amounts to wisdom.

It is not difficult to see that Kenyans are flip-flopping on account of political expediency rather than for the love of their country. And this is why our politicians play us like a ball all the time — because we have no principles.

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