In Eastleigh, it’s been business as usual

Thursday, May 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Mohammed Godana, a taxi driver and resident of Eastleigh estate in Nairobi. He sells bread to supplement his income from the taxi business. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

 Before the government’s decision to restrict movement into and out of Eastleigh yesterday, it had been businesses as usual in “Little Mogadishu” as it is popularly known.

Shops, eateries, lodging houses, public service vehicles, malls and markets were full of people going about with their business as if no threat was coming.

“Here life has been normal since the business community re-opened after temporary closure to put in place mechanisms to control the spread of the coronavirus,” a shop attendant at one of the malls told People Daily yesterday

The government was forced to take the drastic measures to control the spread of the coronavirus after 68 people from the area were confirmed positive by yesterday.

Here, the traditional pastime chewing miraa, sharing of a meal or snacks, handshaking and congestion   have not changed.

Overcrowding in shopping malls, bazaars, matatus and Ramadhan prayers in private residences after the closure of mosques has been the norm.

“Despite the stern measures put in place by the government, nothing much has changed. It is business as usual,” a law enforcer stationed at Pangani Police Station told People Daily.

In Eastleigh, the movement of people had remained normal, with little regard to social distancing and wearing of face masks.


Matatu operators, carried on with normal operations, scrambling for passengers with little attention to measures such as the requirement for passengers to sanitise hands before boarding.

 “We used to sanitise passengers before but because of the low profits, we stopped. We are also in a hurry to make as much money within the shortest time possible due to the curfew,” said Jamal, a tout in a matatu plying the Eastleigh-town route.

Eastleigh, which is regarded as a one of Nairobi’s busiest business hubs, has in the recent past metamorphosed into a safe haven with well-lit streets, expanded road networks and improved security which has reflected in the growth in business.

The government’s decision yesterday came a day after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, had in his daily  briefings, expressed concern of the spread of coronavirus in the densely populated area which.  Some 29 cases were recorded in the area on Tuesday and five yesterday, bring the total number to 68.

 There shall be cessation of movement in and out of Eastleigh with effect from today (yesterday) from 7pm for the next 15 days,” Kagwe announced yesterday,  adding that restaurants and markets will also be closed in the new directive.


But the local leadership last evening blamed the increasing number of cases to “outsiders” who thronged the area on a daily basis for trade.

Area MP Yusuf Hassan told People Daily on phone the new figures should not be used to scare Eastleigh residents saying most of the cases are from people who reside outside the region.

“I can authoritatively tell you that in Eastleigh we don’t have any crisis at all. These cases are from all corners of Nairobi. 

“The government should not use them to victimise hardworking residents of Eastleigh,” he said.

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