Businesses take a hit on anti-Finance Bill protests

Demonstrators in Nairobi on June 20, 2024 during protests against the proposed Finance Bill 2024.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Businesses within the Nairobi central business district (CBD) and across other towns took a hit on Thursday as youth-led protests against the Finance Bill 2024 escalated on a third consecutive day.

Several establishments, including banks, supermarkets, hotels, and retail outlets remained closed for the better part of the day as protesters engaged police in running battles in a show of defiance that kicked off at around 11.00 a.m. in the capital city.

A spot check showed businesses trading in jewellery, mobile phones, and fashion products within the CBD remained behind shut doors over safety concerns as the city morphed into disarray.

As was the case in other city locations, others kept off their premises as a precaution against losing their wares.

“It’s past mid-day, and this is only my third trip against a daily average of seven. From here, I’m going to close for the day as there isn’t much movement of people across all our major routes. But I’m not complaining, we’re fully in support of the protests. It’s the way to go,” said David Nderitu, a matatu driver working with the Super Metro Transport Sacco.

The protests, dubbed Occupy Parliament, were geared towards pressuring lawmakers not to pass the tax bill, which proposes the introduction of new taxes and levies that would, in turn, raise the prices of basic goods.

Demonstrators’ plan to march to Parliament was thwarted by riot police, who fired tear gas canisters on them along the Nairobi streets.

The tax increases were projected to raise an equivalent to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and reduce the budget deficit from 5.7 percent to 3.3 percent of GDP.

President William Ruto’s cash-strained government had on Tuesday agreed to make concessions following the first leg of the demos.

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