As the county government of Nyeri mulls over relocating traders and hawkers who have occupied the Dedan Kimathi Kamukunji stadium for the last two years, the occupants have registered mixed reactions saying it will dent their gains.
The traders had been moved to the stadium in 2020 at the height of Covid-19 as a measure to control and mitigate the spread of the viral disease.
There were also complaints of congestion at the CBD as they operated along the busy Gakere Road. The move, as thus, was also an attempt to allow ease in movement of both people and vehicles.
Governor Mutahi Kahiga has stated that once the contractors are done with the final touches on the Sh600 million bus terminus, the traders will be given first priority.
“We shall relocate everyone to a slot where they can sell their wares by allocating stalls… and for those that do not fit in, we shall look for other places to have them conduct their business,” he said.
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The bus terminus, which was constructed in conjunction with the national government and World Bank, has about 590 stalls, three eateries, 36 bus ticketing points, cyber cafes and over 200 parking bays.
The traders had earlier on opposed the move saying there was low foot traffic at the stadium but as time passed, their business have flourished and they are now at crossroads with the administration’s decision to move them, seeing they have established a clientele base there.
“We would like to request the governor not to close down the stadium completely as a market much as we are ready to move,” said Mr Benson Kariuki, a trader.
The stadium has previously served as ground for prayers and crusades, hosting government events, matches and other social events.
It now has about 734 traders who occupy the premises that attract hundreds of people from across the region on each market day on either Wednesday or Saturday.
Their presence at the stadium has affected hosting of government events who are forced to hold their events at the adjacent DEB Muslim primary school grounds.
The traders have urged the county government to relocate them to a permanent ground where they will not have to be moved around.
“We are ready to move… there will be no demonstrations or push and pull between us and the county government. However, we plead that they take us to a permanent ground where we will not have to keep moving around every now and then,” said Mr Josphat Kamau.
Other traders felt that the county government should allow them to utilize the stadium once it is free of hosting events or games.
“When the time comes, we will move. But the stadium will be serving other purposes and remain idle thereafter. We should be allowed to continue selling our wares here,” noted Ms Anastacia Waithera.
Traders will be moved once the bus terminus is completed and though not all of the 1, 000 people will secure stalls, the county government has assured them that allotting space will be fair and transparent.