A section of Daraja Mbili Market Kisii County which is under construction for more than 10 years. (Sammy Omingi, Standard)

Traders have protested against the slow pace of construction of a Sh204 million market begun 10 years ago.

Construction of the new Daraja Mbili market was started by the defunct Kisii Municipal Council in 2008.

The project was meant to replace the present old, congested market that currently accommodates more than 5,000 traders, most of who have spilled onto the Kisii-Isebania highway.

Daraja Mbili, the second largest open-air market in western Kenya, is situated along the busy highway that connects Kenya and Tanzania.

Traders say the slow pace of construction is endangering their lives.

They say a number have been killed by moving vehicles as they sell their wares on the roadsides for lack of space inside the congested market.

“We have been pushed right to the edge of the road and most customers are unwilling to take such a risk,” said Mary Onsomu, a vegetable vendor.

She is among the many traders crowding both sides of the highway next to the market to sell vegetables as matatus and boda boda riders drive past.

The stench of uncollected garbage in the market and puddles of dirty water pose another risk for the traders.

“Raw sewage flows across the road whenever it rains," said Cecilia Moraa, a fruit vendor at the market.

Even the lucky ones who manage to get space inside say business has been going downhill, especially during the rains.

“The entire market gets flooded almost every afternoon. We no longer open for business at 5am as usual. Maybe the county government should stop collecting taxes until they fix this mess,” said Onesimus Mesesi.

10 workers

When The Standard visited the construction site yesterday, only 10 workers were present. Site manager Chris Mweke however said the new market would be complete by September.

“We will do plastering and roofing in the remaining five months,” he said.

Deputy Governor Joash Maangi admitted there was urgent need to complete the market and move the traders.

“Inasmuch as we want to collect revenue, these traders must do their business in a good environment," he said.