By David Wanjala
Nairobi has remained a shell of its usual self during the day and a ghost town at night. Being Kenya’s capital and its heartbeat from where the rest of the country draws her life, it is an indication that indeed the entire nation’s economy is on its knees.
The otherwise bustling and vibrant streets are agonizingly slow, with crestfallen faces of a workforce that is evidently worried of the uncertainty of their very survival. A city that has always been up and running as early as 3:00am, 24/7, now wakes up as late as 6:00am.
You can leave Embakasi by 6:30am on a weekday and be at the office in Parklands via Mombasa road by 7:00am, 30mins later for what has normally taken not less than two hours before. No, it is not more for the 9:00pm – 4:00am curfew as it is for the reduced economic activity in the city.
Save for fintech, most other sectors including education, health, hospitality, media, property, and transport, are struggling, with many companies resorting to restructuring to maintain cash flow. A majority of the workforce is on unpaid leave. Those that are still working are mostly on pay cuts. Only a lucky few are still working on full terms.
The heightened activity in the moving industry in the city in both the residential and commercial segments bears witness to the fact that all is not well. Every other person is moving houses to cut on costs. The same trend has picked up in office space with companies opting to constrict space and save on rent even as they embrace the working from home phenomenon.
Besides, many other Kenyans, especially those that are on unpaid leave or who have lost their jobs and businesses, have opted, with extinguished savings, to move upcountry altogether. Sadly for Kenyans, it is a double tragedy with the entrenched kleptocracy in the bureaucracy, where those in position of power compete to wipe clean the coffers of funds set aside to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Even if the Covid-19 pandemic were to be conquered today, say by discovery of both cure and vaccine, it would take more than a year or two to bring life back to normalcy. I say this well aware that there are many Kenyans out there whose course of life has changed forever with deemed prospects of redemption.