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Govt mulls support for Westgate mall traders

11 October 2013, 15:15

Nairobi - The government on Thursday announced plans to assist traders whose properties were destroyed by the Sept. 21 terrorist attack at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie who met the traders in Nairobi announced plans to support and facilitate business owners to re-establish their businesses at the upscale shopping mall.

"The government of Kenya is sincerely committed to ensuring that Westgate Mall operations do resume within the shortest time possible through a public private partnership model," Kandie said.

The government's move comes after Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) said businesses that had not insured against terrorism including those at the Westgate mall will not be compensated.

AKI CEO Tom Gichuhi said the uptake of terrorism cover in the country, which is being offered by about 20 companies, is still low.

This has led to huge loss of properties damaged in terrorist attacks. "In the Westgate Mall incident, if vehicles and businesses were not insured against terrorism they will not be compensated," Gichuhi reportedly said.

Both local and foreign investors lost millions of shillings in revenues and in destroyed property following the terrorist attack that left over 70 people killed.

Most shopping malls within Nairobi were closed for almost a week while shoppers opted to remain indoors.

During the meeting, Kandie said her ministry has put in place measures to facilitate the rapid restoration of the shopping mall following the terrorist attack a fortnight ago.

The government, Kandie assured, will spearhead an integrated business recovery strategy that will ensure the speedy restoration of the iconic mall.

She announced that her ministry would be establishing a working committee comprising of mall stakeholders, who will be tasked to consider and advise on the immediate action and partnership necessary between the government of Kenya and Westgate mall stakeholders geared at facilitating a rapid restoration of the mall and businesses.

The meeting sought to explore ways and means of mitigating economic losses arising from the shopping malls closure while considering avenues to rapidly restore normal operations at the mall.

Prior to the attack, the Westgate was supporting an economic ecosystem, valued at more than 1.18 billion U.S. dollars annually.

The proposed committee will also identify the immediate actions by the government to safeguard on possible loss of more than 2,000 direct jobs resulting from the terrorism attack.

"Through this partnership, we shall be further seeking to ensure the overall national economic resilience following the tragic events by reducing levels of business collapse, investor apathy and job losses," she said.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance CEO Carole Kariuki said the business community has suffered a huge blow in the attack.

"Whereas it is too early to quantify losses, a lot is going on in there. From what is being destroyed to the general closure of the mall and other shopping outlets and the many employees that have lost their lives, it's going to be a big loss to this nation, " Kariuki said.


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