The Kisumu city management on Wednesday demolished container shops which they said had been erected on paths and on the drainage system.
This came as a shock to traders who had been evicted from the town last year in a bid to decongest Kisumu’s central business district and also clear parcels of land belonging to the Kenya Railways Corporation.
The demolitions, led by acting Kisumu City Manager Abala Wanga, were effected following an uproar by residents and a section of traders who read mischief in the presence of the containers which were brought in the dead of the night on Tuesday.
Word had already gone round the previous night that the company that had been awarded the tender to place the containers had waited until curfew time to bring them.
On Wednesday the morning, the traders protested what they termed as double standards by the county government which evicted them.
They also raised concern over the procurement process followed to award the tender to one Mr Newton Babior.
"Thousands of traders like me were evicted here and told that this was Kenya Railways land and we have not been given any new stalls yet one person is being single-sourced to bring containers and charge us. This is purely double standards and impunity," said Mr Munir Kirunda, a businessman.
But after hours of protest, Mr Wanga came down with a bulldozer and brought down the five empty containers housing 23 shops.
“We will not allow illegal containers to be erected on paths and sewer lines. We will remove all of them and that is what we have done,” said Mr Wanga.
Immediately after the city manager left the Akamba line, he headed straight to the shops next to Pioneer and Telkom Plaza where he did the same.
The owners of the shops were given only five minutes to remove their goods from before the bulldozer demolished them.
Another trader, Mr Fostine Omondi said the county government is treating inhumanely.
“Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o should not misconstrue our suffering in silence for concurrence with what he is doing to us. The day of reckoning is near,” said Mr Omondi as those behind him chanted “Nyong’o must go”.
‘Process was competitive’
When the Nation contacted Mr Babior to comment on the claims that his company, Spacebuster, was illegally awarded the job to install the container shops, he maintained that the process was competitive and was even completed by the acting city manager himself.
“The tender was advertised and the contract awarded to our company on November 27, 2020 after the due process was followed. I was never handpicked. The process was competitive,” said Mr Babior.
He wondered why Mr Wanga destroyed his containers yet it was the county government that approved the project and awarded him the contract.
“How can an employee of the city board overturn a project he approved? There are definitely vested interests in the action he took to gain political mileage,” said the contractor who was accompanied by his lawyer.
He pointed out that he was to supply 112 containers to Kisumu County government which were to be placed on different sections of the city.
Mr Babior said he had injected about Sh100 million into the project and would be seeking for compensation.
Sue for compensation
“We will be seeking an audience with the city board and should we fail to agree, then we shall sue for compensation because the county government has breached our contract with them,” he said.
On the issue of the location of the containers, he said the county government had given him alternative places after some of the eight gazetted areas were occupied by other projects such as the Uhuru Business Park, the national project which is set to accommodate 10,000 traders.
“In the tender document, eight places were gazetted but were unlawfully given to other projects. We agreed that I would be given alternative areas such as backstreets, opposite Imperial Hotel, Maendeleo Market, Ojina Okeu and Nyamasaria, but now Mr Wanga has gone against our agreement,” said Mr Babior.
There was also the issue of rent where they were charging Sh10,000 per shop yet the traders said they were to be charged Sh6,000.
But the contractor said that the rent, according to the tender documents, would be between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000.