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Roundup: Kenyan businesses pick up as normalcy returning amid anti-COVID-19 measures

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A busy street in Eastleigh, Nairobi. Photo/Courtesy/NMG

NAIROBI, May 30 (Xinhua) — Small and medium-sized businesses in Kenya are registering a steady surge in activities as business picks up in the east African nation amid observation of COVID-19 containment measures.

Business is resuming as some companies that had sent their workers on leave following the outbreak of the disease in March allow them back.

Similarly, a number of people who had chosen to stay at home to enforce social distancing are resuming work as they observe measures to curb the spread of the disease.

Some of the businesses, particularly in the Nairobi city center that are registering uptick of activities, include commuter vehicles known as matatus, salons and barber shops, chemists, clothes and shoes shops, and hotels and eateries.

Banks and supermarkets, which though did not close down but had witnessed reduced activities in the last two months as people stayed away, are also registering a surge in the number of customers.

The steady resurgence in business portends bright prospects for the small and medium-sized enterprises as the east African nation battles the disease.

“We are happy that at least business is picking up,” said Andrew Mutie, who sells women shoes and clothes in central business in Nairobi.

“Most of my customers started to return to work a week ago and I am now getting orders for clothes, shoes and bags, not as it was the case for the last two months,” he added.

The return of workers in the city center has also come as a boon for hundreds of matatu operators who had been greatly affected by the stay at home measure.

Some of the matatu operators had grounded their vehicles due to low number of commuters moving from the residential areas to the city center and vice versa.

The government in March directed the commuter buses to carry half the capacity of the vehicles for passengers to maintain social distancing.

While the matatus tried to compensate for the loss of income by raising the fare, a low number of commuters worsened the situation.

“More people are coming to the city center which assures us business both in the morning, during the day and the evening. Though the curfew time is affecting business, things are improving,” said Geoffrey Muriuki, a conductor with Rembo Shuttle on the Kitengela-Nairobi route.

A survey in the capital Nairobi on Thursday indicated that the number of people visiting various businesses is on the rise, with hotels and eateries, banks and supermarkets being among the top beneficiaries of the resurgence.

At an eatery on Kimathi Street in the central business district of Nairobi, several customers sat at different tables observing social distancing as they ate their food.

The facility, like some others in Nairobi, started in-service over a week ago after testing all its workers for COVID-19 as directed by the government.

“People are coming back, especially this week, there has been good traffic but we have to maintain social distance,” said Jane, a waiter at the outlet.

Ernest Manuyo, a lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, noted that people are resuming activities as they observe containment measures as reality dawns that they must learn to live with the virus around.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted at reopening the economy from next month when the period of the current dusk to dawn curfew ends.

Central Bank of Kenya governor Patrick Njoroge observed that he expects resumption of normalcy in various sectors from June.

“Cessations of some restrictions especially in sectors like hospitality have helped boost business and we expect next month business to surge further. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, so it is a good thing if activities resume,” he said.

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Atheists fault petition seeking to deregister society

Atheists in Kenya have protested a petition that they say seeks to create a notion that Kenya is a nation by and for believers in God only.

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President of the Atheists in Kenya Society, Harrison Mumia

Atheists in Kenya have protested a petition that they say seeks to create a notion that Kenya is a nation by and for believers in God only.

Former Juja MP, Dr Stephen Ndichu has moved to court seeking to have the Atheists in Kenya Society suspended on grounds that its continued existence is unconstitutional.

In a statement, the society’s president, Harrison Mumia says the petition is an assault on religious freedom and an insult to the diversity of the Kenyan people.

“We find the petition repugnant to a good conscience,” he stated adding that Dr Ndichu is a Christian fundamentalist who seems to harbour paranoid fantasies about the dangers of atheists existing in Kenya.

He further accused Dr Ndichu of seeing enemies where there is none and that the society was surprised, but not shocked as religion has historically inhibited progress.

He vowed that the society would do everything within its power to defend its right to remain a registered society and urged Kenyans to support fighting the petition.

On Sunday, the society said it will be writing to President William Ruto seeking an invitation to State House, just like the evangelical denominations.

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Uhuru Gardens ready for Madaraka Day fete, says PS Kibicho

The principal secretary said they would be visiting the gardens every Thursday until June 1 to ensure all loose ends are tied up properly, promising that the celebrations will be very colourful.

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Madaraka Day

This year’s national Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi County will be open to 30,000 people, up from 10,000 in 2021.

Permanent Secretary in the State Department for Interior, Dr Karanja Kibicho, said this follows the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures.

“Children will also be allowed in on the celebrations this year, and we expect county celebrations to happen too,” the PS said while on an inspection tour of the venue.

The PS said the government decided to move the celebrations from the County rotational back to Nairobi because it will be the last event for the current administration before it exits office.

“Because of the significance of this particular Madaraka day, being the last for this regime, we decided to celebrate it at Uhuru Gardens to break the tradition of celebrating it in counties,”

He revealed that preparations were currently at 90 percent complete and expressed confidence that all will be set for the event as the country marks 59 years of self rule.

The principal secretary said they would be visiting the gardens every Thursday until June 1 to ensure all loose ends are tied up properly, promising that the celebrations will be very colourful.

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Queen Elizabeth mourns Kibaki as a great Statesman with commendable legacy

Kibaki will be buried at his home in Othaya, Nyeri County on Saturday.

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Queen Elizabeth II has mourned former President the late Mwai Kibaki eulogizing him as “a great statesman”.

“I was sorry to receive the news of the death of Mwai Kibaki. He had a lifelong record of service to the Kenyan people. It will be of deep sadness to your country to have lost a great statesman, but Kenya can take pride in the legacy of his leadership. I send you and the people of Kenya my condolences at this loss,” the message read.

The British High Commission further affirmed its close ties to Kenya and renewed its assurances to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The British High Commission avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya the assurances of its highest consideration,” the High Commission said.

The late Kibaki passed away on 21 April 2022, aged 90.

President Uhuru, who issued a proclamation that he would be granted a state funeral with full civilian and military honours, announced his death.

Kibaki will be buried at his home in Othaya, Nyeri County on Saturday.

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