'There has been lockdown in the UK because they stayed for a long time without taking those measures'
Kenyans can avert total lockdown if they follow government instructions to stay at home to avoid the spread of coronavirus, the national chamber of commerce has said.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Richard Ngatia on Wednesday said it was possible to avoid loss of business revenue if all Kenyans obeyed the directives.
He said Kenyans had the power to determine the direction the country takes.
“There has been lockdown in the UK because they stayed for a long time without taking those measures,” Ngati told the Star during an interview.
“It is important to safeguard your health. Stay at home for those few days so that there is continuity of business as opposed to going out to sell your products for 14-20 days and then after that, you will never sell again,” Ngatia said.
He said in the event of a lockdown, the government must institute restitutive measures to cushion businesses.
“They cannot just sit and watch us. I’m sure they have put tentative plans to make sure that those who depend on daily wages are supported. The elimination of transaction fees on cashless transfers and bank tariffs are some of the measures already in place," Ngatia said.
He suggested the government should set up a fund to support SMEs including barbershops and salons.
“That is the first step they should take so that they prepare themselves. We don’t want a situation where people are losing their jobs,” he said.
He said KNCCI had made arrangements with financial institutions to give soft loans to traders.
“Walk to your banks, they have come up with different packages to sustain your businesses therefore don’t feel like once you go home, your businesses will not continue,” he said.
He said small business enterprises have no reason to panic because cargo planes will continue sustaining import and export trade.
He added that SMEs can still use aggregators and online logistics companies to export or import goods from the comfort of their homes.
“I want to assure you that your businesses will not go on lockdown because you can still do your businesses while at home.”
Importers can also order goods from markets such as China, Turkey, the US and Europe and put them on cargo flights, Ngatia said.
“What the government has not done is to lock down the use of passenger planes. Cargo planes are still operating normally so goods can come in and go out,” he said.
The world is increasingly adopting restrictive measures to stem the spread of coronavirus and Kenya has so far banned international flights effective Wednesday at midnight.
Ngatia said a lockdown was unlikely to last long were it to be imposed.
“We are hoping there will not be lockdown. But in case there is, it will be for a few days, maybe 20 to 30 days,” Ngati said.
edited by peter obuya