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Slow recovery after Westgate attack

On Wednesday, Peter Mwangi, a taxi driver who parks his car near The Stanley Hotel, got his first customer at 3pm.

On Thursday, he braved the lull day and was fortunate to receive the first client at 5pm.

Since the Westgate mall tragedy a fortnight ago that saw the country’s sentiment scarred, businesses around the city are yet to pick up.

“People are completely avoiding the city and this has affected my business. I work near a hotel and I can tell you they (clients) are not here. The (Westgate) effect is there and we are feeling it completely,” says Mwangi solemnly.

Dead and injured

He is not alone; the businessmen around Nairobi and its environs are bearing the brunt of the terrorist attack that left scores dead and injured.

Consumers have shunned the norm of congregating in open places like malls, pubs and entertainment centres for security fears.

Security has also been heightened. When the writer visited The Junction, Prestige Plaza, The GreenHouse and Sarit malls, he was accosted with guards who checked every nook and cranny of the vehicle.

What used to be a scheduled boot checks by security officers has generated into engine checks, glovebox searches and under-the-seats combings.

According to Mwangi, a Korean he carried on Wednesday told him that she has refrained from the city centre because of a warning from her government.

“She said the city centre is a high-prone area and was advised to keep away from it unless it was necessary,” said Mwangi.

Despite reassurance from the government that security has been beefed up, Kenyans are yet to throng public places.

“People are a bit scared of being in crowded places, preferring to stay indoors. The mood of people is low,” says Phineas Kimathi, the group chief executive of San Valencia.