Nakuru County government is banking on the construction and refurbishment of markets across its 11 sub-counties, at a cost of Sh1.5billion, to spur the region's economy.
The markets being constructed by the county include the Sh600 million Naivasha Wholesale market, Sh600 million ultra-modern market in Nakuru City, Sh240 million Naivasha fish market among others.
In Naivasha sub-county for instance, construction of a Sh600 million, three-storey Naivasha Wholesale market that started early last year, is underway.
The first phase of the construction that was estimated to cost Sh149 million is now about 70 per cent complete. The market is being constructed under the Kenya Urban Support Programme.
The construction of a Sh600 million ultra-modern market and a modern matatu cum bus terminus, that is underway along Landhies Road, in Nakuru City, has raised hopes of thousands of traders from the nearby informal settlements of Kivumbini, Bondeni and Kwa Rhonda.
The multi-million projects are being constructed, on a 10acres parcel of land bordering the slum areas, at the Old Fire Station grounds, in Nakuru east sub-county.
The five-storey ultra-modern market, being constructed adjacent to a state of the art bus terminus, will house over 4000 traders.
The market is expected to be complete in one year, with progress of works entailing concreting and casting of the first floor slab, already complete.
Next to the market, will stand the bus terminus that will host at least 450 vehicles.
The facilities are part of the multi-billion grand projects lined up by the national government that would promote trade in Nakuru City.
Apart from decongesting the Nakuru town's largest and oldest markets-Top Market and the Wakulima Wholesale and fresh produce market, the ultra-modern market is set to boost fortunes of slum dwellers and spur economic development in the informal settlements.
In an interview with Nation.Africa, a number of slum dwellers expressed optimism that the market and bus terminus will boost trade in the areas.
"We have depended on the already congested Top Market and the Wakulima Wholesale and fresh produce markets in town for our business activities. The new market will provide us with enough space to do business and uplift our living standards," Ms Hellen Otieno, a resident of Bondeni Estate told Nation.Africa.
According to the Nakuru Trade Executive Raymond Komen, the projects are part of a wider plan to increase business opportunities, to spur the region's economy and create employment opportunities to dozens of people from the informal settlement areas.
"We want to make the market one of the major city markets and enable traders from various places to sell their wares to uplift their lives," said Mr Komen.
Once the much awaited expansion of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway begins, a four-kilometre bypass will be constructed to run from Nakuru's Frea to the lower side of Nakuru Town near Kingdom Seekers Church, where the market is being constructed, before re-joining the Nakuru-Eldoret highway at Eveready area.
Various slums including Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni are viewed as crime zones, but the establishments are set to change lives in the areas.
The Nakuru County government is also banking on a Sh240 million fish market to be constructed at Karai area in Naivasha to end the 'unhealthy' fish hawking along the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway as well as revolutionise fish business in the region.
The modern multi-purpose market will be constructed under a partnership between the Nakuru County government and two development partners-the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and The Rockefeller Foundation through its Food Initiative Programme in the country.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui commissioned the construction of the multi-million smart fish market early last month.
The first phase, according to the county boss, will be built at cost of Sh80 million, with the county contributing at least Sh10 million with partners giving Sh70 million.
“The project will alter the economic landscape of this area and provide jobs to hundreds of locals who depend on fish farming in the region. It will be a game changer for the youths who have been selling fish by the roadside. They are exposed to dangers of fast moving vehicles and the fish is exposed to irregular temperatures and contamination," said Mr Kinyanjui.
For long, traders have been hawking raw fish at low prices on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
Many fish hawkers have also lost lives after being knocked down by speeding vehicles on the busy highway.
Top on its agenda, the Lee Kinyanjui administration is giving a facelift to the aging markets besides constructing new ones in the county.
"The county government is constructing new markets, besides rehabilitating the old ones, some of which are aging and can no longer cope with the increasing business activities around them, to spur the region's economy and create employment opportunities," county Trade Executive Raymond Komen told Nation.Africa.
"We have seen the growth of the number of traders operating in our markets and that calls for more of those markets to be built in the county. Of course there are those which we are renovating, but in some areas, we want to build new markets,” Mr Komen revealed.
In Nakuru City, the county has refurbished its largest markets and oldest markets- the Top Market and the Wakulima Wholesale and fresh produce market at a cost of Sh50 million.
The markets that have been operating since the 1980s, host hundreds of traders.
The Wakulima market currently houses about 7,000 stalls, frequented by over 5,000 people daily, making it the busiest market in Nakuru City.
Part of the refurbishment included; modernization of the chicken and fish slaughter houses, renovation of worktops and re-carpeting of the market.
The county government has also given the Wakulima Market a major facelift at a cost of Sh20 million.
The market has modern stalls that have transformed into a major wholesale and fresh produce centre in the town.
Thanks to the face-lift, the market is slowly taking shape, with a revamped sewerage system, modern roof and toilets among other improvements.
For years, traders at the market have been grappling with burst sewers, the scorching sun, insecurity and inaccessibility during heavy rains, which is now a thing of the past.
The county is also seeking to construct a Sh47 million market in London ward, along the Nakuru-Kabarak Road.
This will bring reprieve to traders in the London area and its environs who travel all the way to Nakuru's Wakulima and Top Markets to buy or sell their commodities.
It will also serve as a get away from the agricultural rich Rongai areas.
According to Mr Komen, the market will accommodate fresh produce traders and dry cereals among other commodities.
Renovations are also ongoing at the Molo, Subukia, Gilgil, Kabazi and Naivasha retail markets. The county also seems to build new markets in Kuresoi, Njoro sub-counties.