from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – MORE than 350 000 Kenyans have lost their jobs as bar and restaurants, taxi operators and fresh produce traders bear the brunt of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
According to operators in the above-mentioned sectors, more than 30 percent of the bars and restaurants that were in operation before the pandemic have shut down completely.
They estimate that about 16 000 businesses that have collapsed, and given that every restaurant employs at least 10 people, it equates to about to 160 000 people losing their livelihoods.
In addition, because bars and restaurants are working one shift instead of the usual two, they have been forced to reduce staff by half, meaning that close to 190 000 workers are out of jobs.
“The actual affected number of Kenyans is more than 1 million when you consider that each of these workers supports five people,” said Frank Mbogo, the chairman of the Nairobi chapter of the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK).
The stakeholders appealed to the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider lifting the curfew and reducing the restrictions on their business to enable them get back to full productivity.
“If we continue operating in the current circumstances, our various sectors will continue on a dangerous downhill trend that is likely to result in more suffering and joblessness,” said Mike Muthamia, a PERAK board member.
Christopher Tinega, representing taxi operators in the Kilimani area of Nairobi, said some operators had been driven into poverty because of the virtual collapse of the business, which depends on transporting customers at night.
“We have been reduced to working one shift, where we are used to two,” he said.
“Most of the cars we have been taken on loan and when we are unable to operate at night, it means that we are unable to pay our lenders, and many cars have been taken back,” Tinega added.
Nderitu Macharia, a farmer and fresh produce supplier, said having less patrons in bars had hurt their business.
“It has made it hard for us to make ends meet,” Macharia lamented.
Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has recorded more than 106 000 COVID-19 cases, including 1 859 deaths.
– CAJ News