Traders in Nyeri town clashed with riot police earlier today over the closure of small-scale businesses within the town centre in measure to avert the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Dozens of angry traders arrived at the commercial hub to reopen their business protesting a decision by national administration officials in Nyeri county decision which they said had deprived them of income.
Hosea Kibira, a trader in Nyeri town, said the small-scale business owners were devastated and struggling to meet basic needs of their respective families.
“We have been at home for the last two weeks there is no food in ours houses and as such we have to come and try to get something to eat only for police officers to chase us,” said Hosea Kibira.
Joseph Mwangi, Nyeri Central Assistant county commissioner said the order will not be rescinded adding more high-risk areas will be closed once an ongoing risk assessment review is concluded.
“These traders must be aware that more Kenyans are contracting this disease daily through community infection hence we must ensure proper social distancing we are going to close more markets,” he said
Mwangi explained administration officials will further conduct crackdown on public service vehicle and bodaboda operators violating social distancing regulations set by the transport ministry will be arrested and have their vehicles impounded.
The new directive is among a raft of measures to avert the spread of coronavirus in the county, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga having announced plans to restrict urban-rural travel.
Kahiga on 31 March said travelers from Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu will be subjected to screening at checkpoints with those exceeding set temperature readings expected to be referred to designated facilities for monitoring.
The Governor said the county emergency response committee on COVID-19 arrived at the decision in a bid to protect elderly people from being infected with coronavirus.
“This idea of Nyerians living in the city coming back home to quarantine in the village is ill-advised. The reason why we do not want them to come is that they will contaminate villages and expose the elderly and their relatives,” said Kahiga.
The health ministry had on 30 March issued an advisory against nonessential urban-rural travel to protect the elderly, w majority of who live in rural areas, from contracting the virus.
“We are encouraging those who live in Nairobi against travelling upcountry during this period. Statistics show that majority of our elderly live in upcountry and they are likely to be exposed like it happened in Italy by this kind of movements,” Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe appealed.
He further urged those in upcountry not to travel to urban areas unless it is necessary and even so, to maintain social distancing at all cost.
“I also call on those who live in upcountry not to come to Nairobi or go to Mombasa unless it is very crucial. Even so, I urge them to maintain the social distancing that we have been talking about,” Kagwe added.