Kenya: COVID-19 Market Carnage – Buyers Keep Off Gikomba

 Kenya: COVID-19 Market Carnage – Buyers Keep Off Gikomba

For the 10 years Ms Purity Gachu has been selling mitumba clothes at Gikomba market in Nairobi, nothing has posed a greater threat to her business than Covid-19.

Although high political temperatures during election campaigns and frequent fires at the market have been trying, for the first time businesses have taken a massive hit, with some considering temporary closures.

Most traders started feeling the pinch last week as some moved their families to their rural homes while others considered temporarily relocating to the village.

“I am ready to take my children home. They came back from school on Tuesday. I cannot guarantee their safety here,” Ms Gachu said.


The Nation established that the main challenges resulting from the fear of the spread of Covid-19 were a sharp decline in the number of customers, as well as lack of stock.

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“The number of customers has gone down. We are also no longer getting clothes from our usual sources. We deal in clothes from China, which are preferred by customers because they can get small sizes. Currently, we are getting them from the UK, which are usually big and don’t sell,” said Ms Gachu.

She said that a few days after the virus began spreading, stocks from China disappeared from the market, only to be replaced with those from the UK.

She added that many customers are also afraid of going to the market because of crowding, while others want nothing to do with products from China.

Ms Monica Mugure, another mitumba seller, said her profits had gone down drastically: “Usually, by such a time (noon), I would have sold clothes worth about Sh2,000, but now I barely get half the amount. There would be many customers but, as you can see, this place is practically empty. It’s tough,” she said.

“But we have to persevere because we depend on what we earn here to cater for our daily needs. We must work in order to eat.”


When the Nation visited the area last Friday, there were no hand sanitisers or soap and water for washing hands as is the case in many establishments in the city.

Many of the traders told the Nation they had no option but to continue working.