Traders suffer as county market projects drag on
What you need to know:
- In the past few years, the county and national governments have spent billions of shillings setting up markets in attempts to decongest the major towns.
- But even as they strive to accommodate thousands of traders, many projects are incomplete, riddled with corruption or are located in areas that are not business-friendly.
- Many traders have kept off the markets, opting to sell their items by the roadside following delays to open the markets or due to the skewed manner in which spaces are allocated.
In the past few years, the county and national governments have spent billions of shillings setting up markets in attempts to decongest the major towns.
But even as they strive to accommodate thousands of traders, many projects are incomplete, riddled with corruption or are located in areas that are not business-friendly.
Many traders have kept off the markets, opting to sell their items by the roadside following delays to open the markets or due to the skewed manner in which spaces are allocated.
The Sh600 million Uhuru Business Park market in Kisumu constructed by the national government is one of the fruits of the handshake between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga.
The market was meant for traders displaced from Lwang’ni, Winmart, Varsity Plaza, Akamba line, Fontana, Konyando, KPLC, Bank Street and Lake Market to pave the way for the expansion of the Kisumu Port.
However, it remains unoccupied with some traders operating just outside the facility. The traders also feel the location is too far for their customers.
Even with the attempts to have the routes used by public service vehicles diverted to the market, it’s yet to attract customers.
There have also been questions on how the allotment of spaces was done as many traders claim some of those who benefited are cronies to senior county officials.
The first phase of the market complex was opened on Wednesday to 5,000 traders.
In Kisii, despite the completion of phase one of Nyakoe Modern Market at a cost of Sh107 million, traders have given the facility in Kitutu Chache a wide berth.
The only benefit they are exploiting is the street lighting and car park.
Vagaries of weather
No reason has been given as to why the traders have not started using the modern facility as they continue grappling with the vagaries of weather while undertaking their businesses.
The project encompassed the construction of traders’ stalls, water and sanitation facilities, drainage canals, a ring road, administrative offices, access pavement, waste management facilities and boundary walls.
In Kakamega, traders and matatu operators in Mumias are not yet using the modern market and bus park, four months after its official opening by then Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
The Sh180 million project was funded by the World Bank under the Urban Development Programme as a flagship project to enhance connectivity between Kakamega and neighbouring counties, including Bungoma, Busia, Kisumu and Siaya.
The facility consists of a management block, a lactation room, a restaurant, three ablution blocks and ticketing offices. The bus park can accommodate 16 buses and 36 matatus at a time and has 48 parking lots for taxis.
Mumias traders’ association chairman Yusuf Otimi said the market was opened before construction was quite complete.
“The contractor is doing final touches before traders and matatu operators move to the modern facility,” Mr Otimi said.
Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula said the contractor exaggerated its value.
“We noted the anomaly because the initial estimate for the market was Sh98 million but the valuation has gone up to Sh200 million. This is more than 50 per cent of the contract agreement. We’ve revisited this anomaly before the contractor hands over the market,” Mr Savula said.
Back in Kisumu, traders at the Kibuye market will have to wait longer for Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration to complete it.
While the traders had expected to move into a fully equipped facility, most are still struggling with substandard structures as they trade under the scorching sun.
Empty structures and makeshift stalls characterise the market, which according to the traders, was vacated three years ago to allow for an upgrade.
The traders lamented that the poor state of the facility was putting off customers.
“We’re still using the same old structures, selling along the dusty pathways and when it rains, we are forced to seek alternative shelter,” Mr Collins Odhiambo, one of the traders said.
The few traders who have been granted access are forced to lay their commodities on the ground due to a lack of stalls.
The upgrade of the Kibuye market began in 2020 at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when the traders were relocated.
The market was to be equipped with modern toilets, electricity and shop outlets under the Sh4.5 billion Kisumu Urban Project funded by the French government.
Upon completion, the modern market was to have a boundary wall with secure entry and exit gates, neat stalls and rooms for nursing mothers.
The first phase of the project, which was expected to host more than 2,000 traders, ended in February this year at a cost of Sh315 million.
Phase 2 of the project kicked off almost immediately at a budget of Sh185 million and was expected to host another 1,500 traders upon completion.
Reporting by Rushdie Oudia, Shaban Makokha, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Angeline Ochieng, and Victor Rabala