NAIROBI, Kenya April 2 – Central Organization Trade Union (COTU) Secretary General, Francis Atwoli has urged landlords to exempt Kenyans from paying rent for the next three months as the country battles COVID-19 pandemic which has already scuttled numerous businesses.
Atwoli said the Union will appeal to the Government to ensure rental issues for the low income and lower-middle-income earners are considered for the next three months.
“I would appeal to employers,entrepreneurs and landlords to heed to our call that for the coming three months, let them not ask rents from poor Kenyans who have mostly been sent on unpaid leaves,” he told Citizen Television.
He said this will be the only way for them to show solidarity in the wake of the pandemic which has so far infected 81 people in Kenya and seen more than 1,000 placed under quarantine.
Atwoli’s statement echoes that of the Landlords and Tenants Association of Kenya who Wednesday called for a three-month rent waiver for tenants.
“There should be a waiver for rent for the month of April, May, and June so that the common citizen can actually work on putting food on the table.”
The tenants-lobby said the government should assist landlords who are servicing loans to get a six-month moratorium from commercial banks.
“The government should come up with a compensation package for the landlords. We know very well that most landlords depend on the rents they receive to service their loans. We are asking the government to institute the moratorium so that they can have that ample time to put food on their tables now that they are not going to get that income for the months of April, May, and June,” the association posed in a statement.
In his interview, Atwoli further opposed calls for a total lockdown saying it would affect Kenyans who rely on daily wages.
“I do not fully support a lockdown, with our fragile economy, many people cannot survive within it. But if need be, we can do it for not more than 14 days or seven days and by that time we should be testing people,” he added.
He also wants the Government to support civil societies so that they provide relief food for those who are unable to earn during this period as well as those living in abject poverty in order to avert any death due to hunger.