Around Kenya: After the violence
BBC - 12. February 2008
After six weeks, Kenya's violent ethnic and political clashes are
easing, following disputed elections.
Here is a snap-shot of the situation in what have been some of
the worst trouble spots:
RIFT VALLEY, WESTERN
Relative calm is returning to the opposition strongholds of Rift
Valley and Western provinces, particularly to Eldoret town, after
weeks of bloody clashes.
Government statics show that of the 1,000 people killed in the
violence, almost half were killed in Rift Valley and Western
The worst incident came when armed youths set ablaze a church on
the outskirts of Eldoret, killing at least 50 people, mostly women
and children, who had sought shelter there.
An estimated 150,000 people, mostly members of President Mwai
Kibaki's Kikukyu community, have left the two provinces to move to
their ancestral homelands in Central province and Nairobi.
While some 20,000 people, mostly Luos like opposition leader Raila
Odinga, have moved in the opposite direction.
Business in most towns, such as Nakuru and Eldoret have reopened.
Banks, shops, hotels and petty traders are operating without fear.
All the roadblock, where gangs had dragged Kikuyus from minibuses
and hacked them to death with machetes, have been removed and
armed police are keeping watch.
But life in camps for the victims of the violence is harsh owing
to the rains that are now pounding the region.
Many people, especially the elderly and children, run the risk of
contracting diseases. There is also an urgent need for supplies of
food and medical services.
Public transport has resumed and minibus taxis are doing well
again, as they no longer need a police escort.
But a heavy police presence remains in Eldoret and adjacent towns.
Trucks full of the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) are now
a common feature on the streets.
Residents no longer shy away from this squad that used to be known
for ruthlessness and brutality.
Eldoret police boss Bernard Muinde Kioko told the BBC that the
security officers will remain in town as long as former UN chief
Koffi Annan's mediation talks are still in progress.
"We are not taking anything for granted, including the calm that
Eldoret is enjoying - things can change very first and we must be
prepared at all times," he said.
Kisumu, which featured prominently during the post-election
violence with people looting and burning shops, is now calm.
Some businessmen have even started reconstructing their business
premises and painting them, hoping that life will soon be "back to
normal" in the capital of Nyanza province.
But the economy of the city on the shores of Lake Victoria has
been badly hit.
Fishing, which is the region's main economic venture, has
collapsed since most of the buyers and factory operators fled
following the ethnic clashes that followed the 27 December 2007
Taxi driver Oiro says: "While in the past I made up to 5,000
shillings ($71, £35) per day, I am today lucky when I make
Sh1,000. I hope that Kofi Annan pushes [President] Kibaki and
Raila [Odinga] to make peace so that we can continue with our
Maseno University, which is about 50km from the city and should
have more than 10,000 students, cannot open because the management
cannot guarantee the security of students and workers.
Some of the halls of residence were destroyed and are still being
Tension remains high in Nairobi's Kibera and Mathare slums, which
experienced serious post-election violence.
The violent scenes that forced thousands of people to flee have
gone and some families have started returning to their homes but
they are exercising extreme caution.
Some parts of the slums have been divided along ethnic lines, with
many people choosing to live in areas dominated by people from
their own community.
In both areas, some landlords have had their houses taken over by
strangers who refuse to move out, contributing to on-going tension.
In Kibera, where many shops and houses were set on fire during the
violence, police and government officials held a meeting with the
residents at the weekend in an attempt to resolve the simmering
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said most slum areas have remained
calm since the mediation talks led by Mr Annan began.
At the weekend, police chief Hussein Ali lifted the ban on holding
public rallies across the country, citing a return to normalcy.
Residents are now pinning their hopes on Mr Annan's ability to
mediate a political solution.
The tourism sector, based on along the Indian Ocean coast, which
last year contributed 15% of Kenya's national income, has been
devastated by the post-election crisis.
Most holiday-makers have cancelled their trips to see the world
famous safari resorts and beach hotels, with a few lucky hotels
recording 30-40% bed occupancy.
The Coast province alone has more than 120 world class hotels, 20
of which have been closed down, with about 20,000 workers sent
Rufus Mwachiru, chairman of the Kenya Association of Tour
Operators (KATO), says about 20,000 of their members have also
been rendered jobless.
Kenya Tourism Board managing director Ong'ong'a Achieng' says that
the industry, which last year earned the country a record 65
billion shillings ($1bn), is now expected to lose about 5.5
billion shillings ($84m) per month during the first quarter of
He warns that the situation will get worse and the economy will be
severely hurt if a solution to the current political impasse is
not found soon.
Mombasa's port has suffered an unprecedented cargo pile-up.
This was caused by the unavailability of trucks, as transporters
were not willing to travel up-country due to fighting in Nairobi,
Rift Valley and the Western region.
By mid-January, the port which has a capacity of 14,300 20-foot
containers was overwhelmed by 18,472 containers.
At that time eight ships were floating at sea as there was no
space to dock.
Some ships got tired of waiting and changed course to Dar es
Salaam in neighbouring Tanzania.
The railway is operational once again, after sections of line were
ripped up by protestors.
Some of the cargo back-log is now being moved but at a snail's
The crisis at the Mombasa port has also badly hit Uganda, Rwanda,
eastern DR Congo and South Sudan.