Towns deserted after state order to tame virus

Hotel owners opened to clear staff and fit into new regulations

In Summary

• Governors order county enforcement officers to work with the police and the provincial administration to enforce safety measures. 

• Matatu operators announce more than  35 per cent fare increase after state orders they carry fewer passengers. 

Eldoret town with fewer people on the streets on March 23.
SOCIAL DISTANCING: Eldoret town with fewer people on the streets on March 23.

Eldoret, Kitale and Kapsabet and other urban areas in North Rift were largely deserted as people stayed home following government orders to prevent the  spread of coronavirus.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago asked county enforcement officers, police and the provincial administration to  close all but essential businesses and ensure crowds do not gather.

“Things will not be business as usual as indicated by the Health CS and we are going to enforce all the strict government measures," Mandago said.  

But many hotels remained open despite Health CS Mutahi Kagwe directing they only offer take-away services. A spot check in Eldoret and Kitale found many restaurants open but with  few customers.

“We will comply with the orders. We just opened today so we can clear with our staff and see how we can fit into the new regulations,” Eldoret hotelier Ben Kibet said. 

Some hotel owners said they had already reduced their staff as they prepared to start home deliveries.

Uasin Gishu county commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa met with security officials in Eldoret to map out enforcement to ensure full compliance.

He said defying the directives would be catastrophic for the country. Jaldesa warned of tough action against matatu operators who failed to carry fewer passengers as ordered.

Matatu operators on most routes already announced a fare hike of more than 35 per cent as they could only carry only six passenger. 

Operators in Eldoret said they had no option but to fully comply with the orders although it would be costly. Town service matatus which usually charge Sh30 in Eldoret on Monday were charging as much as to Sh50 on most routes. 


Some operators, however, grounded their vehicles to protect their staff. Mandago said they would not allow crowding, including in town markets.

Edited by R.Wamochie