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Scramble for upcountry travel after Kenyan travel ban lifted? No, photo from 2017 

Kenya’s economy would be gradually reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown, president Uhuru Kenyatta announced on 6 July 2020. Travel restrictions from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties were lifted the next day. 

Minutes after the announcement, a photo was posted on Facebook with the claim it showed people scrambling to board vehicles home.

The photo, of a crowd next to a bus, is described as travellers at Machakos country bus stage. The station is one of the biggest in Nairobi, the capital, and used for travel to the north of the country.

“That's how the situation is here at country bus wakisii wa shags sasa kwisha,” the description reads. The Kiswahili translates as: “That’s how the situation is here at country bus station. Woe unto you Kisii tribes people living in the countryside.”

Some rural residents and leaders appeared to oppose lifting the lockdown, fearing infection by travellers from counties reporting high numbers of Covid-19 cases, particularly the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa.

But does the photo show travellers scrambling to board a bus minutes after the announcement allowing travel? We checked


Fear of election violence

A reverse image search reveals that the photo is three years old and unrelated to the announcement. It was published by the Daily Nation newspaper on 30 July 2017.

Its caption reads: “Travellers boarding buses at Machakos Country Bus terminus in Nairobi on July 30, 2017. They are heading to their rural homes. Nasa does not want its supporters to leave the city.”

The newspaper reported that a fear of violence in the city leading up to the general elections on 8 August 2017 prompted the people to head home. – Dancan Bwire


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