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Showers of blessings: City boda boda riders, hawkers making a killing

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In the wetness, they thrive. Boda boda riders, hawkers and shoe shiners all have the same prayer: May the heavens open for more rains to pound the city.

This is because the rainy season is harvest time for the lot.

Traders selling wet weather products like boots, gumboots, umbrellas, waterproof jackets, and jumpers have registered improved sales these past few days.

Amos Githinji, a hawker in the Nairobi city centre who sells umbrellas for Sh250 each, says sales have increased more than tenfold.

Mr Githinji normally displays slow-moving merchandise until the heavens open up and he dashes to stores for the ‘hot cakes’.

“Many people have been buying umbrellas. It is that time when it rains, I look up and whisper ‘thank you’ … because my sales will go up. In the past two days, I have sold more than 100 umbrellas, which is not the case with other products,” he says.

Mr Githinji’s modus operandi is a stroke of genius.

He has running agreements with large retailers, from where he obtains the umbrellas.

“Normally, I sell glasses, socks, watches, pens and a few umbrellas but there are moments when I switch to selling what is moving,” he says.

“I sell umbrellas because that is what is moving, and considering women have their hair and makeup on, they are 80 percent of my customers, while 20 percent are men.”

The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census indicated that Nairobi has 4.4 million people, with a significant number living in the metropolitan area.

Sells jackets and hoodies

Paul Mwihaki, who sells jackets and hoodies in Roysambu, says as the weather changes, the demand for certain items spikes.

“People want to keep warm and at the same time look fashionable. So as much as it is the season of people buying warm clothing, I have to sell what is pleasing in the eyes of my customers so often that I tend to go for the clothing that looks presentable and classy considering my customers are women,” Mr Mwihaki says.

Meanwhile, boda boda riders in Nairobi and its surroundings are doing just fine with the rain.

Moses Wafula, who operates his motorcycle taxi business, in Kasarani, says he decided to install an umbrella on his motorbike to allow him to attract more customers.

“Most customers are specifically going for riders who have umbrella covers because of the rains. Those without them tend to struggle when it is raining.

That’s because even the pillion seat gets wet in the rain. No one would want to sit on a wet surface,” offers Mr Wafula.

He says he has been ferrying more passengers these last few days because of the rains compared with the dry season.

“Many people are resorting to boda boda to reach their destinations faster and avoid being rained on or getting stuck in traffic, and the more the rains, the higher the prices,” he giggles.

The rains have come as Kenya grapples with a serious drought.

The drought had worsened in most parts of Kenya as a result of four failed seasons and the late onset and poorly distributed 2022 short-rains season, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said in a press statement on November 14.



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