HARD TIMES

Traders in Nairobi markets fear lockdown

Government spokesperson said lockdown is an option government would consider

In Summary

• Traders say they have invested a lot in buying stock, which would go to waste if the government declares a lockdown this week.

• Rumours of a total lockdown have been swirling for weeks as cases of Covid-19 infections in the country continue to rise.

Traders at Wakulima Market on March 25, 2020
LOCKDOWN: Traders at Wakulima Market on March 25, 2020
Image: /MERCY MUMO

Traders at Wakulima and Muthurwa markets have vowed to continue with business even in the event of a lockdown.

They said they had invested a lot in buying stock, which would go to waste if the government declared a lockdown.

“We live from hand to mouth. We must come here every day so that we can put food on the table. If I am told to stay at home, where will I take all this food?” Evans Njoroge, who sells potatoes, said.

 

Miriam Wanjiru said the government should compensate traders for the losses they will incur in the event of a lockdown.

“We have children at home waiting to be fed. If the market is closed, we will die of hunger and not the coronavirus because this is what I depend on for my livelihood,” Wanjiru, a trader in watermelons, said.

Other traders were, however, willing to comply with any government directive as part of efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.

“If the government tells us to close the market, we have no choice but to obey because it is for the good of our health. God is in charge even if we go hungry or the government decides to distribute food,” David Omollo, an onion trader, said.

Rumours of a total lockdown have been swirling for weeks as cases of Covid-19 infections in the country continue to rise.

A county government official at Wakulima Market hinted that radical measures may be taken by Friday.

“Let us wait until this Friday; maybe they will announce the closure of the market. However, that would be disastrous because many people depend on this place for their livelihoods,” he said.

 

Earlier this week, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to initiate a lockdown before Covid-19 overwhelms public health officials. 

On Monday, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said a lockdown is an option the government would consider if the stringent measures put in place fail to stem the spread of the virus.

Already, Kitui, Kilifi, Nakuru, Migori, Kiambu, Kitale and Murang’a county governments have announced closure of markets as part of radical measures to minimise the spread of the virus.

Edited by A. Ndung'u