Booming business for Kenyan bus firms as voters go upcountry

Saturday August 05 2017

There has been an exodus of residents from the capital Nairobi, a boon for bus companies that have raised fares.

Easy Coach and Guardian Bus companies that operate from Nairobi to upcountry destinations reported full bookings between August 2 and 10.

“Business is booming because many people are travelling out of Nairobi. We’ve been forced to turn away hundreds of travellers who had not made prior bookings,” a customer care officer at Easy Coach told The EastAfrican.

Mololine and The Great Rift transport companies have also reported a sharp rise in the number of travellers leaving Nairobi.

A spot check by The EastAfrican among travellers in bus stations showed that some were leaving town because of fear that the election could result in violence, while others said that they were travelling to vote in the rural areas where they registered.

“I am a registered voter in Embakasi where I work, but my family has pressured me to travel to our home in Kitale,” said Abel Wanga, 26.


According to an opinion poll by Ipsos released on Monday, 38 per cent of Kenyans living in Nairobi believed that the presidential election would result in some form of violence.

Calls to stay put

Political leaders have been calling on the residents to stay put.

Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero urged residents not to flee their voting regions because of fear of violence.

At a political rally in Nairobi last week, Nasa leader Raila Odinga said, “Every vote counts. We are calling on all our supporters to remain where they are registered and cast their votes.”

Cases of fleeing in major towns and identified post-poll violence hotspots were also reported in the run-up to Kenya’s 2013 General Election.

Joshua Kiptoo, a Nairobi-based lawyer and political analyst, said the growing anxiety among Kenyans is fuelled by tension amid claims of planned vote rigging and the murder last weekend of the ICT manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Christopher Msando.

“These add to the existing fears from the fresh memories of chaos in previous elections,” Mr Kiptoo said.

Mr Msando was found dead on Monday after he was reported missing on Saturday, just days before an election that will rely heavily on electronic systems.

“Many city residents had registered to vote in the rural areas, but we must acknowledge that many people are fleeing,” Mr Kiptoo added.