Covid-19 brings once-bustling Thika town to its knees

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Thika town.

CESSATION:  Thika town is reeling from economic effects of coronavirus as cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi metropolitan to curb the spread of the pandemic adds to its bite.

As witnessed in other parts of the country, the impact of Covid-2 in the busy Kiambu County town has stretched beyond healthcare with various businesses warning of massive financial losses and disruptions to their operations.

The town that forms in excess of 50 per cent of the county revenue has registered relentless closure of businesses as the contagious virus continues to bite.

Most hit are hospitality, transport, and beauty sectors that have increasingly registered losses amounting to millions of shillings.

Problems for businesses in the town started when President Uhuru Kenyatta stopped movement in and out of Nairobi metropolitan to curb spread of the virus.

Since then, businesses that rely on movement of people from Murang’a and Gatundu areas have registered reduced inflows resulting in the undesirable closure.

According to Peter Ndung’u, the manager travellers Sacco that offers transport services in Kiambu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru and Machakos counties, their business has since the advent of the virus been adversely affected. Since Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case, only 40 per cent of the Sacco vehicles have been in operation as most were dumped at petrol stations and parking lots over lack of business.

Operational expenses

He said restriction of movements, reduction of passenger capacity for all public service vehicles and hours of operation greatly reduced the amount of money every vehicle was making in a day.

“We have to pay rent, salaries and wages and this means that the net inflow per day and ultimately per month from every vehicle has greatly reduced,” he said.

He said more than 80 per cent of PSV owners purchased them through the Sacco and have failed to service their loans due the hard-hitting effects of Covid-19.

Michael Kariuki, chairman Mount Kenya Matatu Owners Association, said  since the advent of the virus, the transport industry has been hit by a myriad of challenges, especially modalities of operations.

Unless various revenues as charged by the county government are waived, he said, the industry will close down should the virus continue to spread.

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