Nairobi News


Traders in Nairobi join forces to secure premises amid protests

The phrase “once bitten, twice shy” describes the situation for businesses in some areas of Nairobi, where they have been victims of attacks and robberies during the second wave of protests against the controversial Finance Bill 2024.

As the demonstrations entered their second phase, with protesters demanding the resignation of President William Ruto – a departure from the previous protest agenda – business owners in the city devised a strategy to ensure their shops were not looted.

While police clashed heavily with protesters on the upper side of Tom Mboya, the situation was different on Luthuli Avenue, Ronald Ngala Street, Mfangamano Street and Hakati Road.

Here, shopkeepers have banded together to protect their businesses from looters who they say are masquerading as protesters.

They said they had agreed a few days earlier to protect their businesses after witnessing shops being looted and vandalised in recent weeks.

“We are not against demonstrations, but we are against looting which has been happening in the process of demonstrations, there is a building around here which was razed by fire. So we have come out armed against looters,” Mr Hezbon Aruba said.

Acknowledging that the demonstrators were exercising their constitutional right to protest, the traders urged them to do so with decorum and avoid looting people who are also struggling to earn money to feed their families.

“As much as the Finance Bill has been brought down, we need something that works for everyone. Corruption must stop. Corruption is the only problem we have in Kenya. The President has to deal with corruption first,” said Mr Aruba.

Even business women were not left out, joining their colleagues in arming themselves with rungus to deal with intruders.

Grace Njambi says it is better to close her shop for the day and be safe than to be looted and forced to start from scratch.

“Today we are out to protect what we have worked for. Last time my shop was vandalised and goods were stolen. They stole the money we had collected from the previous day’s sales. It will take time to recover what we have lost,” said Ms Njambi.

For Stella Njeri, her business was affected by last week’s demonstrations after police were overwhelmed by protesters, leaving her exposed.

“We are ready to deal with robbers here because genuine protesters are in the CBD and those found here are thieves. It is very unfortunate that there are those who take advantage of the protests to steal our businesses. We hope that this situation will come to an end so that we can open our shops,” said Ms Njeri.

Some of the anti-riot police in Ronald Ngala admitted that the presence of the business community made their job easier and that the situation there was calm.

“These are the businessmen protecting their businesses,” said one of the officers.

Recently, President William Ruto said that Sh2 billion worth of property and goods had been lost since the demonstrations began.

Most shops remained closed for most of the day for fear of losing their goods.