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Only banks operate in Eastleigh’s ghost town

The city’s most dangerous estate is now a ghost town. Thousands of residents have fled Eastleigh following the crackdown on terrorists and illegal immigrants.

Ignited by attacks on two restaurants in which six people were killed, last week’s massive operation involved more than 5,000 police officers.

So far, 82 illegal immigrants have been deported to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia and an unknown number is still being held at Kasarani Stadium, which was this week gazetted by police Inspector General David Kimayo as a police station.

Only the banks are fully operational on Eastleigh’s First Avenue, which has more than 25 shopping malls. This street which should be bustling with activity is virtually empty.

Most of the shops in the malls are operating below half their capacity, while some have been closed altogether as shoppers stay away.

Businesses in the area together rake in Sh8.6 billion (US$100 million) a month and they are estimating a loss of more than 70 percent in sales if the crackdown continues.

Eastleigh District Business Association chairman Hassan Ghuleid said: “All the traders are closing early to avoid being harassed by the police and because customers are keeping away.” 

Real estate is also hurting as rents in most of the apartments have gone down sharply as tenants, tired of the continued police presence, move out in droves.

Regent Valuers, a property management company, estimates the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in a new building has dropped from Sh15,000 a month to less than Sh10,000 following the sharp fall in demand.

On one apartment on 11th Avenue, about a quarter of the residents in the five-storey apartment block with 22 flats moved out within a week.

“Another five have given notices to move at the end of April and no one is showing an intention to move in. This is disastrous since this building is only a year old and I am still repaying the loan for it,” complained the owner Mr Zachariah Waweru.

On the streets of Eastleigh however, police activity seemed to have reduced.

During the day, the number of uniformed police is not as huge as it was last Saturday when the operation was launched after President Kenyatta gave those with guns a two-week ultimatum to hand them over.