That businesses and jobs are at risk during the Coronavirus pandemic is no secret. The COVID-19 pandemic has already put many jobs and businesses on the line and people have been forced to adapt to a lifestyle they have not known.
When the pandemic began in China in December last year, no one expected the virus to reverberate here in Kenya three months later. Today businesses and jobs are a pale shadow of their former glory.
It is now 21 days since the President declared a curfew from 7 pm to 5 pm, there 9 days left. When the world was in lockdown, we were at a crossroads. We never though it would be coming home.
What would, therefore, happen in the event that there is a total lockdown? Will businesses and jobs, survive?
We delved deeper into this issue and listed jobs that may not see the sunrise tomorrow in the event that the curfew is extended.
Matatu Industry( Transport Sector)
The transport sector plays an important role in the economy of the country. Every year, Matatus and other public service vehicles transport millions of Kenyans to the places of work, their rural homes and holiday destinations.
Today as a result of the COVID-19, the Matatu sector is at its lowest moment ever. That a 14-seater matatu is only allowed to carry 8 passengers is hurting the industry to say the least. Moreover, the government has urged the public to work from home, adding pain to injury.
For a sector whose workers are known to feed from hand to mouth, things could not be worse. Any extension to the curfew will spell doom.
Already some Matatu owners have turned to cargo business to stay afloat. Some vehicles have seats removed to accommodate the cargo, as businesspersons remain grounded.
Kinyozi’s and Salons
Kinyozi’s and Salons and indeed the cosmetic industry employs hundreds of thousands of people with more millions depending on them as breadwinners. With a law on social distancing being in effect, these businesses are recording the lowest number of customers ever.
Moreover, with people saying indoors, the numbers can only be few. When I went shopping sometime last week, I saw families buying items that you would normally find in barbershops and salons. In the event of a total lockdown, they wouldn’t need a go to a barder or salon shop.
Unless you live in another world, barbershops and salons can be a source of infections due to the sheer number of people that visit there and the fact that sharing of items in these shops is common. Even in the absence of a pandemic such as this, we are facing, these shops are known to spread skin and other communicable diseases if proper hygiene standards are not adhered to.
When President Kenya released some Ksh. 100 million to musicians, that was an indicator that things were no longer rosy for the industry. The entertainment industry relies on people, and many people in a single location to make money.
If Mr. Ndambuki aka Mwalimu Kingangi would speak, he would tell you that it is the season of drought. Entertainment joints, bars and name them, are closed. So are the workers that serve in these places, they are locked somewhere not knowing what the future holds.
Restaurants and Hotels.
Who would want to go to a hotel or restaurant during such a pandemic? Hotels and restaurants flourish when people travel, eat out and host social events such as weddings, team buildings and others. When people are locked behind their doors, it only means the doors to these places are locked. Until a time when we will be allowed free movement, hotels and restaurants can take time cleaning up and replacing bedings and cutlery.
For the first time in Kenyan history, schools closed without knowing the day they re-open. Recently when addressing the media during the normal COVID-19 briefs, Education CS Prof. Magoha said that his children are enjoying their holidays. He was responding to questions on when the schools are to reopen. He noted that some schools have been prepared as isolation centers in the event that the situation gets out of hand. With this knowledge then we cannot predict when the schools will reopen.
With the future unknown, teaching jobs and non-teaching jobs in schools especially in private institutions are on the line. Already many private schools have forced their workforce to take unpaid leave. Some have had to cancel contracts indefinitely.
Institutions of higher learning have not been spared either. It is an open secret that these institutions have been struggling financially, especially since the number of admissions dropped. They have been surviving on fees paid by students. In these institutions, it is known that students pay school fees at the end of the semester towards the examination period. But the semester was cut short and comrades having left without clearing the fee. We can only hope that things get better, for when a big tree falls, the inhabitants of the tree are left homeless.
Watu wa Mjengo as we often call them, are some of the most venerable during this pandemic. These people depend on what they get daily to feed their families. So what has become of them during this pandemic?
I can only say that my heart goes out for them, as the COVID-19 continues to cause havoc around the country, anyone who does Kazi za vibarua such as the mama mboga’s, Mama wa kufua and others are paying with their blood.
Indeed as Kenya continues to announce more and more COVID-19 cases day in day out, many businesses and jobs are on the line. There so many of them, this space cannot be enough to list them. It is only recently we saw sex workers demanding to be included as an essential service. This is how bad things are.
When people are faced with an uncertain tomorrow, they hold onto the little they have, the result being that the little money available in the economy does not circulate. The most venerable suffer. Our only prayer is that we get to our normal daily struggles as soon as possible.