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Fear of violence force traders to close Shops in major towns

Many traders opt to adopt a wait-and-see attitude ahead of declaration of winner in presidential race.

In Bungoma, hotels and wholesale shops remained closed save for a few eateries

Most shops remained closed in major towns in Western and Nyanza regions following fears of violence over disputed elections.

Some residents said food supplies were dwindling while transport operators had withdrawn most matatus leaving boda boda operators.

A spot check by The Standard showed retail shops were closed in Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, Bungoma and Lugari save for commercial banks and major supermarkets.

Residents interviewed complained of a shortage of essential commodities such as sugar, bread, milk and other foodstuffs.

There wasn’t much activity in the towns even as people awaited the final tally of votes yesterday.

In Bungoma, hotels and wholesale shops remained closed save for a few eateries.

Shops closed

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The shops were closed a day before the polls.

“I wanted to get lunch in town but hotels are closed. I will have to take fruits and wait till I go home,” Martin Wekesa, a resident said.

Joseph Wesonga, a businessman in Kakamega town, said most traders closed their premises because they had either travelled to their rural homes or chosen to stay at home as the situation unfolds.

“Business has slowed down. People are waiting for the final results to be announced for them to get back to their normal life. No one wants to risk opening their shop for fear of the unknown,” Mr Wesonga noted.

With the transport system in Homa Bay almost paralysed as vehicles kept of the roads, boda boda operators reaped big as the alternative mode of transport.

Yesterday, spot checks by The Standard established that the operators had now doubled their charges.

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Despite most parts of the town being deserted, the boda boda operators ferried people traveling out of the town and within the town.

So dire was the situation that almost all the petrol stations in the town had long queues of motorcycles seeking to refuel.

Jared Onyango, a motorcycle operator within the town, told The Standard that they had doubled their fares because only a few of them were operating.

“Elections are always unpredictable but for us the situation has reduced competition from matatus that have now been pulled out of the roads by their owners,” said Onyango.

It was the same case for travellers in Kendu Bay where operators had also increased fares.

Although a few banks opened to the public, they recorded almost nil businesses because their customers had either travelled upcountry or were at home.

Kisumu County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed appealed to the business community to return to work, saying the town and its environs were safe and secure.

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“I am appealing to the people of Kisumu to come out and continue with their economic activities. There is nothing to fear, Kisumu is safe and will continue to be safe,” said Mr Mohammed.

Businesses started reopening in Naivasha after a two-day lull.

Over 60 per cent of businesses in the lakeside town reopened as residents continued to monitor the tallying exercise through their radios and TVs.

This came amid heightened security with tens of riot police officers led by the GSU team continuing to patrol the town’s streets and its environs.

Speaking on phone, Naivasha sub-county Commissioner Isaac Masinde said the town was peaceful with business going on as usual.

As usual

A spot check in Eldoret town yesterday found businesses and other operations going on as usual.

The central business district was crowded with usual traffic on the streets and shops, hotels and other commercial premises providing their usual services.

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Even though some shops did not open on Wednesday morning, with unusually fewer residents in the streets, the town remained peaceful after people voted.

[Report by Antony Gitonga, Titus Too, Jackline Inyanji, Harold Odhiambo] 

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