Kenyans on social media teamed up and taunted the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) after it threatened loan defaulters on a Sunday, November 17 notice.
The higher education financier threatened to make public the names and images of loan defaulters by publishing their names and pictures in newspapers.
"Please take note that the names and pictures of Helb loan beneficiaries who have defaulted repayment of the loan from 1975 to date shall be published in the leading newspapers after the expiry of 30 days from the date of this notice," the notice read in part.
Minutes after the notice made laps across the unruly streets of social media, KOT defiantly dared the loans board to go ahead and publish their photos and names in the dailies.
George Maiyo tweeted, "don't threaten us. You can as well go ahead and publish information on all the loan defaulters in billboards. Even the president knows there are no jobs in Kenya."
"How do you expect a comrade without any source of income to repay the HELB loan by scaring them to publish their images after 30 days?" Bennet Owuonda replied.
Blogger Robert Alai took an issue with the loans board. He tweeted, "if Helb publishes names and photos of young people trying to eke a living in a destroyed economy, we will protest loudly. We will even go to court for such an abuse of the rights of Kenyans who are just struggling."
Bel Akinyi lamented, "government spends billions in Helb to educate young people then it employs old people as young ones languish in poverty and now you want to arm-twist us with bogus threats."
Another user of the microblogging platform sarcastically tweeted, "you will be appearing on the newspaper courtesy of Helb. You should be grateful that they have given you an opportunity to be in a newspaper."
The Helb loan defaulters are more than 85,000 thousand and they owe the entity close to Ksh50 billion.
Helb has on a number of occasions announced full to partial waivers on penalties accrued by defaulters to encourage them to resume repayments.
In July 2018, then Education CS Amina Mohamed extended a two-month 100% waiver on penalties for an additional one month in what she said to have been necessitated by the response by loanees.
“Based on the enthusiasm that most loanees have shown, it’s imperative that we extend the repayment period so that we give them an opportunity to repay,” Amina had said in a statement.
In the initial period, Helb CEO Charles Ringera said the board had recovered about Ksh508 million from over 9,000 loanees who had taken advantage of the amnesty.
Helb urged defaulters to get in touch with them via firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries and account particulars. Loanees can also access their loan details via the Helb portal, app or USSD Code *642#.