State closes down defiant traders outlets

Thursday, March 26th, 2020 00:00 |
Traders at the Nakuru Wakulima market remove their wares from the facility after the government closed all markets within the county’s central business district, yesterday. Photo/PD/Raphael Munge

The government was forced to shut down businesses in major towns across the country to cushion traders from contracting and spreading the deadly coronavirus after traders defied the directive on social distancing.

Areas affected include Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru and Migori counties where respective regional governments with the backup of police yesterday intervened after the owners refused to voluntarily comply.

Mombasa began enforcing an order by the county Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 on the closure of hair salons and barber shops.

The committee resolved to close down all hair salons and barbershops with immediate effect while all private hospitals must set aside some beds for Covid-19 patients.

Fred Omondi, a barber in Jomvu area, said they would not shut down their shops as they had already complied with given preventive measures.

“We are not opposed to the directive, but shutting down this kinyozi means I will stay idle in the house without food.

We urge the county to be considerate of those who have already complied with the safety precautions,” said Omondi.

Maureen Killian, a salonist, said she has no other means of earning a living and shutting down her business would deal a blow to her. The Mother of two termed the directive punitive and discriminatory to those working in the informal sector.

“Police and county askaris came in the morning and ordered us to shut down failure to which we would be arrested.

I had no option but to order my staff to go home. The big problem is that we have no any other source of livelihood,” she said. 

In Kilifi, the county government has banned boda boda riders from operating, claiming they are a recipe for the spread of Covid-19.

The move was sharply opposed by operators who asked the county administration to rescind the decision.

“We cannot stay at home without work. This is where we get our daily bread,” said Kaingu Kombe, a boda boda rider who operates in Mtwapa.

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro announced the immediate closure of all the main markets in the county.

Among the facilities which were ordered closed is the popular fresh farm produce Soko Mjinga alongside Makongeni market in Thika, Wangige market in Kabete and the Limuru market.

Githurai, Ruiru and Madaraka markets in Ruiru and Thika respectively that fetch  the lion’s share of county’s market revenue will also not be accessible to the public until mid April. 

Other affected markets are Gatukuyu, Gakoe and Kamwangi markets in Gatundu North constituency.

Meanwhile, Rongo Sub-County commissioner Joseph Satia has lauded Migori residents for their positive response to measures meant to curb spread of coronavirus, including handwashing at strategic points and avoiding gatherings.

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