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PHOTO BY MOSES MUOKI

Coronavirus

Eastleigh roars back to life after lockdown lifted

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7- A business lull that lasted for 30 days following cessation of movement in and out Eastleigh area in Nairobi is a thing of the past, barely a few hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta said he will not extend the order, that also covered Old Town in Mombasa.

As it were before the lockdown, Eastleigh is now bustling with activities and cash is once again flowing within Kenya’s biggest business hub.

Transactions worth an estimated Sh2 billion take place in Eastleigh daily, according to available data.

Along Eastleigh First Avenue, tens of trucks were on Sunday seen offloading goods while Matatu and Boda Boda operators were back into their usual spots.

The silence that characterized the streets has been replaced by noise from public service vehicle operators, hawkers, and other traders calling for clients.

The streets are once again crowded while shopping malls like Emirates, Bangkok, and Hongkong have all reopened.

Eastleigh is now bustling with activity

“We can now comfortably feed our children now that our businesses are back,” a visibly excited resident only identified as Mohamud told Capital News.

It is hub that Ahmed Ismail, an official within the Eastleigh Business Community said contributes 25 per cent of the city’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Eastleigh’s stake to the economy cannot be underestimated,” he said.

Most of the residents of the populous estate who spoke to Capital News welcomed President Kenyatta’s decision not to extend the lockdown, saying they can once again do business and earn their daily income.

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They are equally elated by the extension of dusk to dawn curfew time, which will now kick in at 9pm and end at 4am.

“It means we will now have more time to do business and also give our clients enough time to do their shopping,” Meshack Waigwa, a trader in Eastleigh said.

They described the 30 days they were locked from the rest of Nairobi as challenging, saying the government should consider giving financial support to the vulnerable and small businesses owners.

“Officials captured our details a while back and yet we have never received even a coin, yet we hear million of shillings have been spent. Who are the beneficiaries?” George Ole Kina, a matatu conductor within Eastleigh said.

Ole Kina is however happy that he can now earn a living, without waiting for aid from the government.

“I believe business will be back. People will start moving in and out of Eastleigh,” he said.

Notably, most residents have their masks on, to avoid being infected by COVID-19 disease, as they expect back people from other areas, who are largely their clients.

While coronavirus infections in Eastleigh and Old Town have not been fully contained, the President on Saturday said the situation is now better than before.

He urged Kenyans to continue observing precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health, to avoid further spread of the disease.

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Since the first case was registered in the country in March, at least 2,600 cases have been recorded, with 83 fatalities while 706 others have since recovered.

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