POLICE BLOCK ENTRY

Fear of crime as two Ol Kalou markets closed

Open-air market and main retail closed, rendering over 800 traders jobless

In Summary

• While some traders praised the move, others said residents will starve, leading to an increase in crime

• Despite directive that matatus reduce the number of passengers, many are carrying to full capacity

Newspaper vendor Joseph Njuguna in Ol Kalou town on Wednesday
Newspaper vendor Joseph Njuguna in Ol Kalou town on Wednesday
Image: /Ndichu Wainaina
A pickup with farm produce parked at National Oil Petrol Station after it was denied entry to Ol Kalou open air wholesale market on Wednesday
A pickup with farm produce parked at National Oil Petrol Station after it was denied entry to Ol Kalou open air wholesale market on Wednesday
Image: /Ndichu Wainaina
Armed police officers patrol Ol Kalou streets on Wednesday
Armed police officers patrol Ol Kalou streets on Wednesday
Image: /Ndichu Wainaina

Two markets in Ol Kalou town, Nyandarua county, have been closed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Traders operating at Ol Kalou open-air market next to the bus park on Wednesday woke up as early as 4am only to find all the entries closed, with police officers standing guard.

It was the same case at Ol Kalou main retail market in the CBD. The more than 800 traders sell their products in the two markets and streets, especially on Wednesday and Saturday, which are official market days.

 

While some traders praised the move and called for total lockdown, others said the move was uncalled for as residents would starve, leading to an increase in crime.

Fruits vendor Antony Chiloba said the closure will cause untold suffering as most traders do not have food reserves and only rely on the little they make daily to feed their families.

He said instead of closing the markets, the government should have provided enough water, soap and sanitizers to the traders.

“Not selling means all my bananas will go to waste. The bank is waiting for me to service my loan. I don’t know what to do,” he said.

Naomi Wanjiku said the government should devise ways to mitigate the losses the traders will incur.

“If we stay at home, we are going to die of starvation. The way the Kenyan economy is, the government cannot feed all Kenyans,” she said.

Jackson Njuguna said traders were not notified of the impending closure in good time.

 

Another trader, who did not want to be named, said she might be forced to steal to feed her children.

“There is no way I will not watch my children starve to death because the market has been closed,” she said.

But some residents said the closure was long overdue. Newspaper vendor Joseph Njuguna said the measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 should be followed.

He said newspaper sales have nose-dived given that many offices and hotels have been closed.

“Even so, I would urge the government, if possible, to implement a total lockdown for at least three weeks. This is for the good of us all,” he said.

Daniel Ngumo said only a misguided person who is blind to reality would feel offended by the closure of the markets or any other measure put in place.

He said people should value their lives and those of their families more than they value money.

“Everybody can see what is happening in the whole world. If I am told to stay at home, I will obey without question. Everyone should do so,” he said.

James Ng’ang’a said despite the government directive that matatus reduce the number of passengers, residents of Ol Kalou were still allowing themselves to be bundled in vehicles, especially taxis.

“Are these taxis above the law? If nothing is done, this virus will get out of control in the villages than towns,” he said.

Ng’ang’a said only a lockdown will save Kenyans. “All of us should be compelled to stay indoors until a lasting solution to this pandemic is found," he said.

Edited by A. Ndung'u