Find lasting solutions to Azimio protests

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 00:30 | By
Muslim leaders urge Raila to suspend scheduled demos as Ramadhan begins
Raila Odinga during Monday March 20, 2023, protest in Nairobi. Photo/Facebook/Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja’s plan to intensify mass protests from once to twice a week may be viewed as a clever move to further pressurise the government to lower the cost of living and meet other raft of demands. However, the decision will definitely deal a major blow to the tourism industry, which has struggled to regain its footing after the devastating effects of Covid-19.

Raila Odinga’s announcement will further have negative ramifications on the struggling tourism industry, threatening to throw many out of the job market into poverty — the thing that the opposition coalition is actually fighting to have the government eradicate. Political protests in Kenya have never been peaceful. And if the damage dealt on businesses, property and man-hours lost as many opted to stay away from work on Monday are anything to go by, then these demos are likely to achieve the opposite of the intended results.

The trickling down effect is devastating. In the Coast region, players in the hospitality sector depend on two peak seasons in the tourism calendar — that is the April peak season bolstered by both domestic and international travellers visiting for Easter holidays. The April season crescendos in July as tourists flock Maasai Mara for the wildebeest migration, going into a lull and again peaking over December holidays.

In preparation for the Easter holidays, hoteliers spend alot of money in refurbishing their premises, reemploying and retraining staff to serve guests during these seasons. This then means with many visitors opting to stay a way, recouping back these investments will be a challenge. The coastal economy’s success is heavily pegged on a thriving tourism sector that offers employment opportunities to the residents. However, the demos serve to keep visitors away, as tour operators have began receiving travel cancellations after the UK and US, which are Kenya’s main tourism markets, issued a security alert to their citizens over the demonstrations.

Our leaders should hence find mature and civilised ways to address the issues escalating cost of living and demand their supporters refrain from chaos and destruction of properties, which should otherwise help boost the economy and create jobs. Otherwise, opposition leaders should be held to account for criminal offences of supporters to instill a sense of responsibility.

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