Stalled dream as ‘bad politics’ isolate Sh27m modern market

The abandoned Nyambambo market on the border of Nyamira and Homa Bay counties. INSET: Michael Saoke, a tax collector in the market for over 40 years. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]
A market in North Mugirango funded by the European Union remains abandoned, nearly 12 years since it was built.

Nyambambo market built at a cost of Sh27 million has never been used by the local traders. It has over 100 stalls, which were allocated to traders who have never used them, and sits on two acres of land.

A metal plate bearing the flag of the European Union remains pinned at the entrance of the market to remind locals of the wasted donation.

Right after the main entrance on the left hand side stands a plaque whose surface has bleached out except for the faint inscription of the name of former North Mugirango MP Wilfred Ombui who officially opened the market when it was complete.

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Mr Ombui claimed some politicians incited residents against using the facility so as to win supporters.

“Politics infiltrated the market and some politicians incited locals to abandon it and move to Nyamusi market instead,” he said.

Nyamusi market, which is about 10km away opens on Sundays and Thursdays and has all the vibrancy missing in Nyambambo.

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Daniel Yongo, one of the traders whose stall has been reserved for the last 10 years, says the market was abandoned following inter-tribal conflicts during the 2007/08 post-election violence.

“Local politicians succeeded in paralysing business at this centre by inciting our Kisii counterparts to move to Nyamusi,” Yongo says.

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Nyambambo market stands on the border of Nyamira and Homa Bay counties. Sharing of market revenue between the two counties has also been blamed for the market’s collapse.

During its days of yore, the place was vibrant, with traders from as far as Kericho, Kisumu, Nandi and even Migori flocking to the centre on market days.

That was long before the new stalls were built.

As it grew, incidents of traders being subjected to double taxation by the defunct local authorities of Homa Bay and Nyamira, according to some of the traders, made them leave.

The Homa Bay side then started running Karota market, which even today is not as vibrant as Nyambambo used to be about a decade ago.

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The two markets are separated by a road running from Nyamusi to Misambi which connects to the Kisii-Kisumu road.

According to Michael Saoke, a resident who has worked at Karota market for more than 40 years as a revenue collector, stagnation of Nyambambo market started long time ago due to strife for revenue between the now-defunct Gusii and Homa Bay county councils.

“Revenue officers from the two areas would always clash over tax collection, with traders ending up paying twice the same day,” Saoke recalls.

The Nyamira County government is yet to give its full commitment to revival of the market, but according to Trade Executive Johnston Obike, normalcy may be restored soon.

“We are considering giving incentives towards reviving the market but it will require a lot of effort,” Obike says.

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North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko says construction of Ekerenyo-Misambi road will automatically awaken the market.

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European UnionNorth MugirangoNyambambo market