Busia traders lose Shs1.6b to Kenya riots

Protesters throw stones towards police officers and a water cannon vehicle during a mass rally called by the opposition leader Raila Odinga who claims the last Kenyan presidential election was stolen from him and blames the government for the hike of living costs in Kibera, Nairobi on March 20, 2023. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • At the Busia border, trucks and fuel tankers were seen doing their runs yesterday as normalcy returned.

Traders dealing in cereals at Busia market say they lost more than Shs1.6b due to riots that broke out on Monday in Kenya.

Rioters, led by the leader of the Azimio coalition, Mr Raila Odinga, on Monday engaged police in running battles in Kisumu Town, Homa Bay Town and some areas of Nairobis.

Mr Odinga blames the Ruto government for its alleged failure to lower the cost of living, while urging the restoration of subsidies, which were synonymous with his predecessor (Uhuru Kenyatta’s) administration.

While relative normalcy has returned to the Busia border, traders taking stock of Monday’s mayhem in Kenya, say considering that traders in Busia market export more than 1,000 tonnes of cereals to various markets in the East African Community region, they reckon more than Shs1.6b has been lost.

Mr Henry Bwire, a trader, said traders from Kenya, failed to transport their maize because the main route to Kisumu was blocked by rioters.

“Today [Tuesday], we have seen few Kenyan-registered trucks and traders coming to buy cereals, but the numbers are still far below the usual numbers we have on a good market day,” he said.

He said they are stuck with more than1,000 tonnes of cereals destined for the Kenyan market, and fears that businesses, not only in Uganda, but the entire EAC will most likely be affected if the riots continue.

Mr John Karanja, a truck driver attached to Busia market, said traders, who usually hire his truck to transport maize from Uganda to Nyeri  in Kenya, feared to take risks. 

Mr Peter Macharia, a Kenyan trader, said more than 70 Kenyan-registered trucks had arrived in Busia market to load various cereals by presstime, which was in contrast to Monday which registered less than 10 trucks.

He said: “If the situation continues like this, we should be back to normal business before the end of the week because traders from Kenya have started crossing to Uganda to buy maize and other cereals.”

Normalcy returns to border
At the Busia border, trucks and fuel tankers were seen doing their runs yesterday, including three interstate buses destined for Kampala from Nairobi.

Mr Godfrey Oundo Ongwabe, the chairman of National Cross border Traders, said three buses had arrived from Nairobi yesterday, while fuel tankers and cargo trucks from both sides had started crossing the border.

Mr Michael John Amodoi, a clearing agent, said business was slowly getting back to normal, adding that more than 100 trucks were queueing to cross either side of the border.

However, Mr Yahaya Kamba, a clearing agent at the border, said whereas there was some semblance of normalcy, it was mainly empty trucks crossing the border into Kenya, while those with cargo remain parked because the situation in Kenya remains uncertain.


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