Owners of eateries in Kisumu County have protested against Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s move to revoke their permits over lack of Covid-19 testing kits.
Under the Kisumu Bar and Restaurant Owners Association, they opposed the move that came a few days after they paid for compliance certificates.
The action the government’s directive on April 27 for restaurants will be allowed to re-open but under strict measures aimed at maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Nyong’o declared that restaurants in Kisumu would remain shut due to lack of testing kits in the county, causing panic in a county yet to report a single case of the disease.
“The Ministry of Health said eateries and restaurants should be opened and people working there tested but we asked for the kits but they have not yet been provided," he said.
“Until we get the testing kits and know that the workers in those eateries are free of covid-19, we cannot open them and risk the lives of our people."
Association Chairman Daniel Maneno took issue with the new directive, questioning why the county’s public health department accepted cash from them.
“Some of our members had already complied with the requirements and even paid between Sh20,000 and Sh50,000 for compliance, only for the governor to revoke the licences over lack of testing kits,” Mr Maneno said.
He said had been asked to pay Sh 5,000 for three-month certificates, at least Sh 5,000 for fumigation and Sh12,000 for purchase of infra-red temperature guns.
Kisumu City Residents Voice Chairman Audi Ogada criticised the lack of testing kits, saying Kisumu residents were “sitting on a time bomb”.
“The governor has put Kisumu residents in a very precarious situation. We are more worried than before,” Mr Ogada said.
He went on: “The revelation has sent shockwaves because we are celebrating lack of a Covid-19 case in Kisumu yet we lack test kits. The governor should be honest and tell us what his priorities are. It’s unfair that well-wishers are pumping in money yet we lack the essential requirements but are boasting of lacking coronavirus cases."
County Director of Public Health, Mr Fredrick Oluoch, explained that the government was yet to dispatch testing kits for mass testing that would be used to test the staff in the eateries.
“Kemri Kisumu has testing kits but we cannot use them for testing the staff in our restaurants. We hope that sooner or later, we shall get the kits for mass testing and start the process,” Mr Oluoch said.
But the national government said only high risk areas will receive mass testing kits.
Kisumu City Director of Public Health Mr Osborn Odera, whose office issued the temporary permits to restaurant owners said he hoped the kits would soon be available.