Businesses count huge losses as anti IEBC protests bite

Businesses in Nairobi remained closed for the better part of Monday during the anti-IEBC protests. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Businesses in Nairobi remained closed for the better part of Monday during the anti-IEBC protests. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

Businesses in Nairobi’s central business district (CBD) counted huge losses after they were forced to shut down for most of the day Monday for fear of looting by thugs taking advantage of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) protests.

Most businesses remained closed while others opened only temporarily but remained on high alert as protesters attempted to make their way into the CBD.

Businesses in other major towns including Kisumu, Kakamega and Mombasa were also affected by the protests seeking to force out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses out of office.

“United Mall branch in Kisumu was closed today due to protests. Same to Chap Chap in the CBD and Bandari branch in Mombasa, with all remaining closed for the better part of the morning,” said Tuskys CEO Dan Githua.

The protests which turned unruly last week saw gangs take advantage of the marching protesters to steal from pedestrians and shops across Nairobi’s CBD.

Metal grills on businesses along Kenyatta Avenue, Moi Avenue and the streets within vicinity of Anniversary Towers remained shut.

“Supermarkets and retailers in the town had to close shop. Tuskys Kenyatta Avenue had to close shop for an hour last week and this week they had to close the Kisumu and Kakamega branches until they got police reinforcement,” said Wambui Mbarire the chief executive officer of Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak).

Pedestrians occasionally scampered for safety not wanting to fall victim of last week’s reported assaults and muggings.

According to the Tuskys CEO, the supermarket chain is losing about half of the average daily sales every Monday due to the demos.

“Loses from this ‘scare effect’ is much more than the shops we have closed so far,” he said.

M-Pesa agents also operated in fear following word that they were being targeted by the gangs as easy prey for cash, with most remaining closed for the duration of the protests.

Two protesters succumbed after being shot by police in Siaya.

Cord leaders, who want a new IEBC team formed to oversee next year’s elections, were barred from getting near the electoral agency’s offices along University Way. The police cordoned off the area around Anniversary Towers which houses the IEBC.

Police have dubbed the protests illegal, but the Cord leaders hold that it is their constitutional right to hold peaceful protests.

The High Court Monday declined to issue orders citing for Contempt of court Cord principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula as applied by some Jubilee coalition leaders.