Kisumu traders cautious ahead of Tuesday election

Looters carry stolen goods in Kisumu during post-election riots on December 30, 2007. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Looters carry stolen goods in Kisumu during post-election riots on December 30, 2007. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Businesses in Kisumu have taken precautionary measures ahead of Tuesday General Election, with most opting to close down to give their employees ample time to take part in the exercise.

This has forced residents to engage in panic shopping to stock up on necessities.

An official of Khetias Supermarket, which is located in the CBD, confirmed that the outlet would close on August 8 to allow its workers to travel and vote.

“We will not be operating on August 8 and 9 since most of our workers have to travel long distances where they registered as voters,” said the official who is not authorised to speak to the press on behalf of the supermarket.

Kisumu Central Business District (CBD) secretary general Jackson Ogweno has, however, called on entrepreneurs not to panic, allaying fears of violence.

The lakeside city has been listed among potential violence hotspots by the National Cohesion and Integrated Commission (NCIC) ahead of the closely contested election.

“Unlike in 2007 when Kisumu was badly affected by post-poll violence, this election is happening under a different environment where we have new electoral laws guiding the management of the election,” he said.

Mr Ogweno expressed optimism that the assurance by Chief Justice David Maraga that all election disputes would be dealt with speedily by the courts has given them confidence.

This is coupled by an initiative run by fashion models which is meant to protect businessmen from hooligans and looters.

The “Adopt an Investment” project, which also involves former street children in Kisumu, will be responsible for protecting properties assigned to them in case of violence and will rally their colleagues in peace campaigns.

Mr Joseph Mbai, a shoe vendor in the busy Oginga Odinga Street, however says he will not operate for a couple of days until the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officially announces the presidential results.

“This sector was among the worst hit during the 2007/2008 post-election chaos. Our businesses were looted and we were left staring at losses,” he said.

Mr John Ogutu, the senior operations manager at Securex Agencies (K), said that at least 100,000 private properties were reported to have been destroyed during the 2007/2008 post-election violence.