Nairobi CBD remains deserted as poll results trickle in

Wednesday August 9 2017

This image taken on August 9, 2017 shows a deserted Moi Avenue

This image taken on August 9, 2017 shows a deserted Moi Avenue, a business hub, in Nairobi. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Empty banking halls, supermarkets opened only partially, and rows and rows of metallic shutters were there to greet you if you enter Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Though Wednesday is not a public holiday, the day witnessed very little business in the city as traders chose to keep premises shut to see how Tuesday’s General Election would pan out.

BANKERS
The wait-and-see attitude descended on residents who were on edge regarding election results so far.

That is why banks — which a source said are not allowed to close on a working day unless they have been permitted by the Central Bank — were open but only a few customers visited them.

At an Equity Bank branch on Muindi Mbingu Street, staff were largely idle when Nation conducted a spot-check mid-morning.

CBK RULE

An employee at the branch, who did not wish to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the Press, said business "is very, very low".

Asked if it is expensive to open for business when no customers are streaming in, he replied: "It is expensive but we have to open; unless we are given permission by CBK. We have to remain open unless it’s declared a holiday."

TUSKYS
Elsewhere in the city, supermarkets that had been shut on Tuesday opened their doors, but it was clear that most of them had done so with precaution.

For instance, Tuskys Supermarket’s Chap Chap branch on Morktar Dadah Street had only one door opened, which served as both the entry and the exit.

The supermarket’s other branch on Moi Avenue, though it had two doors opened, had its glass displays firmly shut.

DESERTED
Although Uchumi supermarket branches on Monrovia Street and Aga Khan Walk were open, few shoppers could be seen going in and out.

Nakumatt’s Moi Avenue branch was also open after closure on Tuesday.

Walking on the streets of Nairobi at 11.30am felt like passing in the city past midnight when everyone has left.

CLOSED

It was mostly guards occupying the pavements, even finding time to chat heatedly in groups, arguing on the outcome of the polls.

From Biashara Street to Moi Avenue to City Hall Way, the commonest feature was metallic shutters and a few notices pasted on shut doors.

"We will be back to business on August 10 from 9am. Sorry for any inconvenience," a notice pasted on a metallic door on Omega Opticians on Morktar Dadah Street read.

ECONOMY
Unless there is post-vote chaos, it is expected that it will take a week or more before business resumes to normalcy.

According to Mr Kiprono Kittony, the chairman on the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, in 2013 it took about 10 days before businesses could return to routineness for traders feared eruption of violence.

"We need to consider a referendum and revert [elections] to December so we don’t strangle the economy," Mr Kittony told Nation in an earlier interview.