Deserted streets, closed businesses in Kisumu ahead of Azimio protests

Some of the closed business premises in Kisumu CBD. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Several business premises remain closed in Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori counties as youths started barricading roads ahead of the planned mass protests.

In Migori, protestors have blocked the Migori-Isebania highway, a key road that connects the region to Tanzania. By 8.30 a.m, protests had begun in Migori with the protestors lighting bonfires.

A similar development is also taking place in Homa Bay where protestors have blocked roads leading to the town as groups began to converge.

They claimed that they are participating in the protests to pile pressure on the government to reduce the high cost of living.

In Kisumu, pockets of protestors have lit bonfires along the Kisumu-Kakamega highway and blocked traffic with another group converging at converge at Kondele.

Bonfires seen on Kibuye road. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

There is a heavy police presence in the lakeside city with the security officials keen to block the protestors from accessing the city’s Central Business District.

The officers are stationed in Kondele police station as well as at the Kisumu bus park and are keeping an eye on any developments likely to affect peace in the city.

Traders have opted to close their shops amid fears of looting and destruction.

Along Oginga Odinga Street, only a single supermarket is opened while several small shops remained closed. The situation is also replicated in the city's industrial area where businesses are all closed.

Some of the deserted roads in Kisumu CBD. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Public service vehicles have also kept out of the roads with the main bus park deserted.

On Wednesday, Governor Anyang Nyong'o had said his administration had indefinitely suspended the holding of anti-President William Ruto demos in Kisumu.

Nyong’o said he would join other protesters in Nairobi during the weekly demos scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays.

The governor’s pronouncement came two days after he convinced demonstrators in Kisumu not to destroy property.

Taking part in the peaceful protests on Monday, March 27, the county chief led the protesters away from the central business district.

Interviews with a number of traders established that the protests were hurting their businesses with some claiming they are facing a hard time to finance their loans.

Some of the closed business premises in Kisumu CBD. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Moses Odhiambo, a boda boda operator who claims he bought his motorcycle on loan and is expected to finance the purchase on a weekly basis claim he has been unable to offset the loan.

“I always plan on how much money to set aside for the loan everyday but it is difficult to plan during the protests. However, I support the protests because of the high cost of living,” he said.

Some of the closed business premises in Kisumu CBD. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

In the Monday protests, 12 people were injured, according to records at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu.

Two people died during the chaos. One was shot dead, while the other was lynched while attempting to steal a mobile phone.

Imperial Sarova, a mall and a bar in Kisumu are some of the commercial facilities that have borne the brunt of the demos, with property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

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