Kenya’s decision to halt the movement of interstate buses across its border following a surge in Covid-19 cases has left several Ugandans stranded in the neighbouring East African country.
Last week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a lockdown which stopped movement in and out of five Kenyan counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Kajiado and Kiambu.
The move has left many travellers stranded on either side of the two countries, with several businesses at the Busia border point now paralysed.
Speaking in Busia, Kenya, Mr Jafari Owour, a bus operator with Simba Coach Services, told the Daily Monitor that they are stuck with several passengers, majority of whom were travelling from Kampala.
“Most of our passengers do advance booking and by the time the travel ban was issued, many had already paid for their tickets,” Mr Owour said on Tuesday.
He added that they were forced to make refunds to 50 travellers, majority of whom were traveling to Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru. Others are still waiting to get their money.
Mr Mudasiru Bahati, a Ugandan traveller who had booked a bus from Kampala to Nairobi, said when he reached Busia, the bus was stopped the journey.
“I was supposed to be in Nairobi by Monday but l am still stranded here,” he said, adding that he had spent a night at the bus terminal.
Mr Stephen Bwire, who is among the stranded passengers, said travellers from Kampala in Uganda and Kigali in Rwanda, who were destined for Nairobi and Mombasa, are the most affected.
“We are wondering why Kenya ordered a ban on public transport in the five counties and yet they are allowing travel by air to Nairobi,” he said.
The spike in Covid-19 cases in Kenya has left several people in need of intensive care, especially oxygen support.
Mr Abas Lubega, a clearing agent at the Busia border point, said for the last two days, no bus from Kampala or Nairobi had arrived at the border, something he said has started taking a toll on local businesses.
Mr Lubega said most customers who buy cereals in Busia town are from Nairobi and that the travel ban means they are no longer going to do business with them until the partial lockdown in the five counties is lifted.
Mr David Kuka, a moneychanger, said very few travellers are arriving at the border, which has adversely affected his business.