The Machakos Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua has said that effective Wednesday no Tuk tuk, Maruti or boda bodas will operate in the County.
Dr. Alfred Mutua said the move which also incorporates a raft of several other stringent measures was taken in order to protect the locals from the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus.
The governor stressed that this radical decision will promote social distancing, which has been hailed as one way of reducing the possibility of one contracting or spreading the deadly virus.
“Social distancing is critical if we are to save residents from getting infected. There is no way a boda boda rider is safe from being infected by a sick passenger and thereafter infecting others,” he said.
“Therefore from Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 5 am no boda bodas, Maruti or Tuk Tuks will be allowed to operate in Machakos County for the next two weeks. We cannot pretend we are keeping the required social distance and still riding on motorcycles where the separation between the rider and passenger is zero to 1 mm,” said Dr. Mutua said in statement released to the media Monday.
He said the orders were arrived at following consultations between his office and other stakeholders in the county.
“After several virtual meetings with members of the county security team, the Coronavirus Cabinet Subcommittee and other stakeholders, we have taken the following decisions to further protect our people from the spread of the infectious disease,” he stated.
However, the governor announced that as a way of compensating and cushioning the operators from possible loss of income, the County Government will waive all tax charges due to it from the operators, for remainder of this year.
The governor also banned any groupings of more than three people in the region and urged residents to be home and indoors by 7 pm.
At the same time, Dr. Mutua banned all market days in the county trading centres while ordering the immediate fumigation of the same premises. “Traders are encouraged to operate safely,” he added.
Other businesses negatively affected by the governor’s orders include pool table, miraa and muguka dens which have been summarily banned.
“Any people defying these directives that are being made for the social good of all will be viewed as enemies of the people and a danger to society. Matters of health are critical and we have no time for back and forth,” the governor warned.
However, the governor added that the directives was subject to review depending on the national or county status of the pandemic.
On office business, Dr. Mutua ordered as follows: “Machakos Government staff will work on shifts. This is applicable to non-essential services and Chief Officers are to develop working schedules by end of today,” he said, adding that “there shall be no office meetings while all staff and departmental gatherings will be conducted virtually, using the internet and social media.
Meanwhile, the hospitality industry in Nakuru is taking the biggest blow following coronavirus outbreak as major tourist class hotels remained closed after the government shut down borders.
A spot check by Kenya News Agency established that activities at most high end hotels within the Central Business District and in Tourist attraction sites had little or no activity.
Most restaurants within town had complied with government’s directive and removed seats and chairs so to serve clients who were only buying takeaway foodstuffs.
Curio traders along Kenyatta Avenue said the situation felt worse than the years from 2012 to 2015 when visitor numbers fell after a spate of terrorist attacks claimed by Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.
“There is nobody coming to buy our wares and souvenirs. We pray that the spread of the virus is contained. All these people here have many mouths at home waiting to be fed,” said Winfred Njuguna, a curio trader.
In Nakuru’s Industrial area, some factories had either closed or scaled down their operation as the country comes to grip with the pandemic.
“Though we have observed all known health precautions and guidelines issued by the Health Ministry, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers. We have cut back on the number of shifts from three to just one,” said Christopher Langat, a supervisor at a cooking oil and detergent manufacturing company.
He said this was a big blow to casual labourers who were hired on weekly basis, as a cut in production translated to less work force.
A spot check at major supermarket outlets established that they had limited the number of shoppers in their premises. They had also observed social-distancing and hygiene measurers.
Last Friday, the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe directed all supermarkets to limit number of shoppers at every given time to comply with recommended social distancing space of 1.5 meters. He asked buyers to restrict themselves to one person per family.
Shoppers in Nakuru hailed Naivas Supermarket which has partnered with technology logistics firm Glovo to reduce the price of home deliveries for shoppers to encourage staying home.
This will be for online purchases valued at Sh.1, 000 and above.
“The move complies with the government directive to limit public gatherings and crowding in stores as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus,” the chain store said in a statement to the media.
Naivas joins Tuskys supermarket that earlier rolled out home delivery in partnership with technology delivery firm Sendy.
As the scare of the virus spreads, Nakuru has become a shadow of its usual bustling self.
Most streets were virtually empty as people working in the town travelled to the countryside or preferred to stay indoors.
Matatus that ply residential estates are bearing the brunt of the economic meltdown following reduced commuter numbers and a directive by the state that they carry fewer passengers.
Traffic jams that characterize mornings and evenings at Kenyatta Avenue have been largely absent.
The Nakuru county government has also suspended non-essential services, and allowed their staff to work remotely.
By Justus Keesi/Anne Mwale