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‘Normalcy’ returns to Nairobi after President Barack Obama’s visit

By Graham Kajilwa | July 27th 2015

KENYA: The deserted Nairobi Central Business District has transformed itself back into a buzz of activities hours after US President Barack Obama jetted out of the country.

The empty streets slowly started being littered with people of all sorts most of whom came to visit their favourite hangout joints probably to celebrate the return of their deprived freedom.

Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki Way which are some of the major roads closed for Obama's beast were reopened for motorists on Sunday evening, with private and Public Service Vehicles that were not being allowed in the CBD when Obama was in town finding a reprieve with the absence of the stone faced General Service Unit on major intersections to scare them to take the longest routes home.

Despite Obama's historical visit giving birth to major partnership deals in affordable energy, infrastructure and counter-terrorism that are projected to revamp the business sector for many entrepreneurs, many business owners were already counting losses due to his presence in the country.

Mr Shafey Bundio who manages a string of restaurants in the CBD-including the Fralet Food Court along Standard Street-could not hide his disappointment on how the Obama visit affected his business.

"I am happy that we had a chance to host Obama but in terms of my restaurant business, I am counting losses. We have had to dispose a lot of food which is painfully costly," he said to The Standard on a visit to his restaurant. "I had even thought of using this period to make some renovations but that could not happen."

Bundio said that in the last three days, he underwent an average daily loss of h150, 000: "But of course this could be more since it was a weekend."

His counterpart Eunice Otieno of Galitos on Kimathi Street sarcastically referenced the Obama visit as a recreational period for workers. "However, I hope by noon things will be getting back to normal," she added.

Joseph Karuga of Emirates Shoe Collection along Tom Mboya narrated the same story: "Weekends are usually our peak days but that was not the case. That is why I have initiated a 20 percent discount today (Monday) to try and recover the loss but still make money nevertheless."

The transport sector shared the same optimism. "People are back to their normal activities and so we are. You know Kenyans they are very good in recovering," said Meshack Menya of Royal Swift minibus matatus.

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