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Security beefed up as companies count losses from siege

DusitD2 Hotel attack
Special forces arrive at DusitD2 Hotel that was attacked on January 15, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

Companies housed at 14 Riverside Drive are counting their losses after Tuesday’s terrorist attack on the complex left their operations paralysed and future uncertain.

The gun and grenade ordeal that lasted 18 hours left the high-end complex inaccessible as security agents took charge, allowing them time to conduct further forensic investigations into the attack that left at least 14 dead and many others injured.

Among those who died were employees of various companies that had offices at the complex.

Some international organisations with operations in Nairobi, including UN-affiliated institutions, suspended their operations Wednesday as a precautionary measure. Their employees were also cautioned to remain vigilant.

DusitD2, the commercial complex which was the target of the attack, was opened in 2012. It is owned by the Sanghrajka family, proprietors of Tile & Carpet Centre. It comprises several office blocks with retail spaces on the ground floor, restaurants and DusitD2, a 100-room luxury hotel.

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In a statement, the hotel said it had moved its guests and redirected its future bookings to other hotels within the city.

“Our guests and upcoming reservations are being relocated to other hotels in the city, and the hotel is closed until further notice,” the statement said.

The private sector lobby group, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), condemned the attack but hailed the security agents for their efforts in ensuring business continuity in other parts of the country and for bringing back normalcy in the Westlands area.

“We at Kepsa do recognise that the complex attacked is host to several institutions, among them Kepsa members, both local and international, directly or through associations. They employ many and this has caused unneccesary anxiety among organisations operating in the area,” Kepsa said.

The Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak) also condemned the attack.

"We have confirmed with members operating from various malls that the managements have in light of the events, reviewed security operations in conjuction with the police and all other partners to ensure secure environments for the safety of the retailers and the public," said the association in a statement signed by its chairman, Mr Willy Kimani.

There were more than 40 businesses at the complex.

Besides retail outlets, the Dusit complex is also home to multinationals such as Reckitt Benckiser, Amadeus Global Travel Distribution Ltd, Colgate Palmolive (EA) Limited and Brighter Monday Limited. It also houses the headquarters of Kenyan-founded digital payments service provider, Cellulant.

It was not immediately clear the extent of damage the attack had on Cellulant’s operations and its manpower by the time we went to press.

The I&M Bank, while reporting that all its staff at Riverside Branch were safe, said its outlets would remain unavailable until further notice.

A travel consultancy firm, Turn-Up, said in a notice it had three employees at the office at the time of the attack and all had been evacuated and reunited with their families.

“The office complex remains an active crime scene and thus we urge our clients, trade partners and visitors to expect a delayed response,” the company said.

By yesterday, other tenants at the complex were still verifying the safety status of their staff, even as police sealed off the area.

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