6/5/2020
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Businesses count daily losses during Ramadhan


Thursday May 21, 2020

With five days remaining to the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan, it is obvious that Idd-ul-Fitr celebrations will be marked differently this year.

Shopping centres and markets are usually a beehive of activities in the last few days of the month. Thousands flock the places to buy clothes and food in readiness for Idd.

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Businesses in Mombasa, including at Mackinon market, the city centre and Kibokoni in Old Town, would be booming at this time.

However, they are staring at huge losses following their closure by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Shops in Nairobi’s Eastleigh, Marikiti in Mombasa and the livestock market in Garissa have been shut.

Eastleigh serves Nairobi and has been the main shopping centre for retailers across the country for decades.
Ms Mariam Ali, an Eastleigh trader, on Wednesday said she faces huge losses.

“During the same period last year, my shop was fully stocked as customers kept coming. They have been told to stay away from Eastleigh, and I’m not sure if this time there will be a celebration,” Ms Ali said.

She said during last year's Idd she made about Sh20,000 daily. Thus, she wants things to return to normalcy.

“It is weird. These markets and shops are our only sources of income. The government should allow us to go about with our businesses as we follow the health guidelines,” she said.

SHIFTING LOCATION

Mr Bilal Mustafa, another Eastleigh trader, echoed Ms Ali’s words. “The losses many of us have suffered are unprecedented. This is supposed to be our high season. The lockdown and the dusk-to-dawn curfew have made the situation worse,” he said.

Mombasa Old Town, a traditional business hub during this time, is more of a ghost town now.

Women would be buying carpets, buibui, dresses and household items, as men get kanzus.

Ms Hamisa Zaja, a local, said most of these items are ordinarily found at Mackinon market and in Old Town. “The government should allow us get to Kibokoni even for a day,” she said.

Some traders have moved their businesses to Bondeni, just opposite Mackinon market.

Following the closure of the two main markets and Marikiti, businesses have shifted to Bondeni on Abdel Nasser Road.

Others who operated on Makadara Road have also moved elsewhere.

MARKET CLOSED

Mr Salim Bajber, a kanzu trader, transferred his business to Kizingo. He has opened a small shop for walk-in customers.

“During these last days of Ramadhan, we rely on such customers. The Old Town lockdown has contributed to a collapse of many businesses. I now make deliveries for those who had ordered clothes,” Mr Bajber said.

Dagahley livestock market in Dadaab, Garissa County, serves traders in northeastern and Somalia.

The devolved government of Garissa ordered the closure of the market after Wajir reported cases of the virus.

A majority of the victims are livestock traders who crossed from Somalia. “Traders buy and sell animals in Somalia,” Garissa Health executive Ahmednadhir Omar said.



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