Western Kenya investors feel the pinch of prolonged campaigns

Private investors in western Kenya have started laying off workers because of the current political uncertainty which has resulted in poor business.

Among the counties which have experienced slowed economic activity because of prolonged political campaigns are Nandi, Kisumu, Vihiga, Kakamega and Uasin Gishu, which share boundaries and business activities.

“Most traders are reluctant to take up new stocks due to fears of losses in the event of chaos during or after the repeat election,” said Mr Joseph Maina, a trader at Kopere on the border of Nandi and Kisumu counties.

He said that most businesses in the region had not resumed normal operations after the Supreme Court ordered a repeat of the presidential election.

POLITICAL TENSIONS

On Wednesday, traders who spoke to the Nation warned that unless the political tension eases, many businesses will close, dealing a major blow to the region’s economy.

The hospitality industry, including hotels on the border of Nandi, Kisumu and Vihiga counties, have not been spared with some of them scaling down operations.

“Business had dropped to 40 per cent prior to and after the August 8 General Election but matters have taken a turn for the worse due to political protests which have heightened tension and insecurity fears, scaring away clients,” said Mr James Kipnyang’o at Kiboswa market on the border of Nandi, Vihiga and Kisumu counties.

He said that the number of customers visiting his restaurant had dropped from an average of 100 a day to less than 50.

BELOW CAPACITY

In Uasin Gishu county, a spot-check in Eldoret town revealed that many businesses were operating below capacity.

Mr Daniel Githaiga, a hardware shop owner, said he was experiencing difficult times.

“If the situation continues, we will have no option but to close down altogether. Many of my customers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude as they do not know what will happen after the repeat election,” Mr Githaiga said.

The traders called for dialogue between the ruling Jubilee administration and the Opposition Nasa to resolve the stalemate.

INCREASED PRICES

He disclosed that prices of some construction materials such as cement and nails had increased because of the stalemate.

A 50-kilogramme bag of nails which used to sell at Sh3,800 has gone up to Sh4,500 while roofing nails that used to cost Sh6,000 are now going for Sh8,200.

“Our suppliers in Nairobi have stopped sending us the materials until after the October 26 election.”

Another trader, Mr Rawal Patel, said he risks closing his business if the situation does not change soon.

SCALE DOWN

“The prolonged political activities have ruined my business and scared away customers, among them developers in real estate,” said Mr Patel.

In Bungoma county, the local chamber of commerce chair, the Rev Herman Kasili, said investors had scaled down operations due to fears of losses as a result of riots.

Traders in Bungoma complained of low sales as well as poor supplies.

“I have nothing to sell because I can’t get material to make curtains, it’s time our leaders ended the impasse,” said Ms Robai Namachi.

Reported by Barnabas Bii, Wycliff Kipsang and Titus Oteba

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