Mixed reactions meet reopening of livestock markets

Though applauded by the traders, others are are of the opinion that it further exposes residents to the risk of contracting the coronavirus 

By Albert Lemomo

Kajiado residents have expressed diverse reactions following recent reopening of livestock markets across the county, amid concerns of the spread of covid-19, which has already claimed lives in many parts of the world.

While speaking at Emali market in Poka-Kinyawa Ward, where he announced a reopening of the markets, after a two-week closure, Governor Joseph ole Lenku said his administration resolved to make the move after it got satisfied that various measures put in place by the County Department of Public Health, — and which were aimed at combating further spread of the virus in market places — were being adhered to.

On one part, following the move, the business people who were already staring at uncertain fate of their ventures, heaved a sigh of relief.

On the other part however, a section of the community elites are of the opinion that the move could further expose residents to the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, more so, in the towns that border the neighboring Republic of Tanzania, which is perceived to be lax in its responses against the outbreak of the pandemic.

Jackson ole Sopon, chairman of the Isinya slaughter house, told the Kajiado Star, “We welcome, and are grateful for the move by the county government [to open the markets]. It has dealt to the reviving of the hopes of our businesses and by extent, the livelihoods of our dependents.”

He said that, as a community of livestock traders in the town, they have resolved to follow the set government recommendations to the letter.

“We have placed water points in our market where everyone who comes in can wash their hands; we are committed to buy and put on facemasks, and we will also make sure that all the people, even the customers, must put on the same, besides maintaining the recommended social distancing,” he said.

Solomon Oipoi, a livestock trader in Bissil town also told this publication, that the two-week closure, “Has been extremely difficult for us, because as a pastoralist, I don’t have any other income generating activity I know… it was only a matter of time before the little savings I had could deplete.”

However, a resident in the diaspora who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Kajiado Star on phone: “That is a very myopic decision, that an ill-prepared county like ours could take… it’s easy for the government to take such a populist move, but a different thing all together when it comes to facing the pandemic when it eventually blows.”

He added: “Given what we have experienced here, [in the USA], we get extremely shocked to see the governor make such announcements, and perhaps gives us an impression that he has not yet imagined the seriousness of this pandemic”.

Human rights activist Benjamin ole Tipatet, also said, “The market in Ilbissil has traders from as far as Boma ya Ngombe on the highway to Moshi, Tanzania, and who trade in cash… [It is therefore worrying given that the country] is not very keen in its responses to the virus.”

However Kajiado Star understands that the movement of livestock traders, but certified goods, is restricted in the Kenyan borders.

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