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Covid-19 fears: Kajiado traders protest closures

Traders, pastoralists say they do not have alternative means for feeding their families

By Albert Lemomo

Traders in Kajiado Central Sub-County have challenged both the national and county governments to provide an alternative source of livelihood for them as the county’s move to close down all open-air markets and night clubs in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

According to Esther Nzilani (pictured above), a mother of 10, the government should be mindful of the common citizen’s plight before coming up with some decisions.

“Life is already extremely hard for people like us who don’t have a monthly salary.I took a loan of Ksh20,000, with which I bought crates of tomatoes to come and sell here so that my children at home can get something to eat and I can raise funds to pay my rent, but the county officials have forced us to pack our goods and go back to our houses. We have nothing in our pockets, it isn’t fair because my children are crying for me to provide for them but I cannot; the government should then provide for us because we feed ourselves daily as hustlers,” Nzilani said as she shed tears.

Francis Mwangi, an onion seller at Ilbisil market, appealed to the government to not only focus on preventing the spread of the disease but also on the effects of Covid-19 on the common citizen.

“We support government measures to protect us from coronavirus. However, you cannot tame a hungry person, because we are the sole bread winners for our families. The government should not just focus on hospitals and drugs, but think on ways to cushion mwananchi from suffering economically,” Mwangi said.

Yusuf Sologon, 27, has also vowed to continue with his business despite the outbreak of Covid-19, saying that the sale of livestock and goats is their only source of income.

“As pastoralists, we do not have any other source of money. The sale of livestock has been our business since the time of our grandfathers and we do not have other profitable activities.Not even coronavirus will scare us from conducting our business so that we can go back home with a packet of unga to feed our families. Even if they close these markets, we will look for other places to sell, because we cannot lock ourselves while hungry,” Sologon said.

Ilbisil market generates at least Ksh70 million a week due from the sale of livestock, with thousands of families depending on the market for a living.

The residents have called for a sensitization awareness programme to educate them on coronavirus.

“We need to see people coming to our villages to enlighten us on this virus, because we only hear about it through radio and word of mouth, so that we can protect ourselves from it incase it erupts in our areas,” Stephen Lekisho said.

On Wednesday, Governor Joseph ole Lenku directed that all open-air markets and nightclubs be shut down with immediate effect following the outbreak of Covid-19 at Ole Kasasi area, Ongata Rongai, Kajiado North Sub-County.

The orders are being implemented by the county inspectorate department, with Senior Superintendent Jane Lenchiro affirming that they will not allow anybody to go against the directive.

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