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Life in Eastleigh since lockdown 14 days ago

• Eastleigh and Mombasa’s Old Town were locked down on May 6 after they became Covid-19 hotspots. 

• Eastleigh is both a business hub and a residention area populated mainly by Muslims of Somali extraction.

LIFELESS: Eastleigh’s First Avenue, one of Nairobi’s busiest business thoroughfares, during the lockdown

Eastleigh’s 15-day partial lockdown ends today, with residents praying that it will not be extended.

Opinion of those the Star spoke to was divided. Some said the lockdown was illogical and that it served no purpose.

Boda boda rider Geoffery Omondi said the residents depended on motorcycles to take them out of the estate to estates like Kariobangi and California.

“Nowadays, if I’m lucky, I get Sh200 a day,” he said.

Community youth leader Javan Ochieng’  said about 500 young who touted at Eastleigh’s 16 bus stages were out of work.

He regretted the upsurge of gender-based violence in the estate since the outbreak of coronavirus. According to him, the problem became worse soon after the lockdown.

“In less than two weeks, I have referred three cases to relevant organisations. Ordinarily, those are the numbers I refer in a month,” Ochieng’ said.

There also cases of police brutality, forcing some people not to venture out of their houses.

Michael Maina, a boda boda rider, lost an eye after he was allegedly clobbered by a police officer with a baton.

“He was hit on the eyeball as he left the 10th street headed to Melawa where he lives about 10 minutes to curfew time. He was taken to Mama Lucy Hospital, operated on but he never recovered his sight,” Odhiambo said.

Most residents have been reluctant to be tested for Covid-19, attributing this to ” brutality” during contact tracing.

“When the team comes for you, it appears like a criminal operation. We witnessed one near Marie Stopes Hospital and I doubt the pain the lady was subjected to will go away even if she tested negative,” he added.

Covid-19 response team member Mohammed Ismael said only 1,684 people had been tested in Eastleigh by Monday. The estate has an estimated night population of 170,000.

When Eastleigh reopens, people from the rest of Nairobi will come for business and there are fears of a spike in Covid-19 cases if containment measures are not strictly adhered to.

Odhiambo fears that the extension of the lockdown will count for nothing without enhanced civic education on Covid-19 and humane but strict enforcement of prevention measures.

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