Economy plummets as govt step up fight against COVID-19

Residents are challenging the government not to just go on a closure spree, but also to advice on alternative means of livelihoods

By Jonathan Teikan

Besides rising fear and anxiety, the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus has begun dealing a devastating effect on the economy, Kajiado Star can report.

The recent government directives aimed at preventing further transmission of the now global pandemic, though highly welcomed, have worsen the situation.

On March 15, President Uhuru Kenyatta while addressing the nation at Harambe House, in the wake of the outbreak, warned of inconveniences that some of his government’s measures may cause, and true to his word, various players in the economy are now watching helplessly as their businesses plunges to losses.

A random check by this publication reveals worrying trend that only hope can heal. For instance, one of the most frequented resort in the outskirts of Kajiado town, yesterday, had no a single customer, but its boss and a handful of staff.

The boss, who requested us not to mention his business’s name, reported that he lost an opportunity this week where he expected to host tens of foreign nationals who had booked to spend a week at the facility as they supposedly prepare for a luncheon of a children home they have built in the town.

The distressed businessman further said that his local customers have given the resort a wide berth following the recent government advisory asking the public to avoid crowded places: “Avoid crowded places including shopping malls and entertainment premises.”

In the matatu industry, the cry is equally colossal. Anthony Kirumpas, a driver who operates a matatu belonging to Nailepu sacco that plies Nairobi-Namanga route, said the number of passengers has dropped drastically, and thus, they are forced to spend a lot of time waiting at the terminus.

He said: “Time is money, ile masaa ambayo tunapoteza hapa tukingoja wateja ni pesa tunapoteza”. It is loosely translated as “The time we spend waiting for the passengers at the stage amounts to losses”.

Yesterday, March 17, a county inter-governmental multi-agency emergency committee — consisting of the County Executive, Assembly and the office of the County Commissioner — also declared a raft of measures, ranging from closure of all urban open air markets to closure of night clubs and bars.

Residents’ reactions to the government move were diverse. Some were of the opinion that though the measures are expected to cause more inconveniences, they are inevitable given the manner at which the pandemic spreads.

However, they are calling upon the various levels of government to do more than the “closures”, and also advice on alternative means of livelihoods.

“As for me, I have over the ages been moving my merchandise from one open-air market to another, and so this is the business that I have known and mastered, I am just wondering what to do next”, said Mary Wangui, a trader at the Kajiado open-air market.

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