Running battles as traders resist closure

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 21:08 | By
Police disperse omena traders at a market in Kisumu following a county government directive to close such outlets. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME

There were running battles in various open air markets across the country as police implemented a Ministry of Health directive to downsize operations to combat Covid-19.

In some of the markets, business went on as usual with county governments suspending collection of levies.

 In Kiambu, traders at a Thika market engaged police in running battles yesterday after they were forced out of the market over fears of spreading Covid-19.

The overcrowding witnessed at the open-air market prompted police to raid it forcing all traders out of their businesses.

Drama further ensued after the agitated traders started pelting police with stones in revenge.

“We were not given a notice not to report to work. This is humiliation and unnecessary harassment,” a trader Mary Wamuyu said. 

The script was the same at the Nanyuki Main Stage when hawkers defied orders from Laikipia County government to shut down their business to avoid over crowding at the bus terminus.

The small scale traders who depend on travelers to sell their items said that there is no way they would close down over the Covid-19 and staff to death with their families.

“The government should supply us with food if they want us to be home for the next 15 days,” said Jecintah Karwithia. 

Nanyuki police boss Abdi Mohammed accompanied by county government officials patrolled the markets and public places and all the eateries to see if they are complying with the directive.

It was business as usual in Nakuru for hawkers and food vendors at bus termini within the county despite an order by the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya to vacate to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

To avoid crowding Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration will distribute traders across markets in the county.

In Kisumu, residents were forced by authorities to leave town to avert the spread of Covid-19. Authorities moved to impose a partial lockdown in the lakeside city to counter the spread of Covid-19.

However, hair salons and barber shops in Mombasa county were still operating despite  Mombasa County Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 ordering their immediate closure to prevent the spread of the disease.

A spot check by People Daily yesterday established that owners of the facilities are yet to comply with the directive issued on Monday with level of compliance to the Covid-19 safety measures proving difficult for many traders.

In Nyali and Kongowea area, barber shops and salons remained open with no one to enforce the directive.

Owners of the facilities claimed that Mombasa county had imposed the directive despite them having complied with safety precautions including provision of sanitisers.

Fred Omondi, a barber working at Tafsiri Kinyozi in Jomvu area said he would not shut down their shop as they had already complied with set precautions.

“We are not opposed to the directive, but shutting down this business means I will stay idle in the house without food.

We urge the county to be considerate that those who have already complied with the safety precautions,” said Omondi.

Maureen Killian, a salonist said she has no other means of earning a living and shutting down her business would deal a blow to her.

The mother of two children termed the directive punitive and discriminatory to those working in the informal sector.

“We have no any other option to survive, if they want us to close our salons, then let them provide food stuffs for us because closing the shops means we will die of hunger,” said Killian.

Other resolutions announced by the committee on Monday include barring individuals with flu like symptoms from entering the ferry at the Likoni crossing channel.

The committee has also directed all private hospitals in Mombasa to set aside isolation wards in their respective hospitals for Covid-19 patients. So far, only Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa has set aside isolation wards for coronavirus victims.

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