Kangari market readies for municipality status

Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata with Kangari town leaders launching Smart Cities programme designed to tarmac roads within the town eying to attract more traders. [Boniface Gikandi, Standrad]

In the last 10 years, Kangari market in Kigumo has been ranked among the fastest growing centres in the Mt Kenya region.

Kangari is a squeezed market with hundreds of traders operating along the road reserves, due to lack of rental space.

Recently, the market, together with Kenol, got the nod from the Murang'a County Assembly for elevation to the municipalities status.

The vibrant market has an urban population of 94,977 as of the 2019 census and earns Murang'a County Government impressive revenue running into millions on a weekly basis owing to the influx of traders.

Collaboration between the county government and Murang'a University of Technology (MUT) has established Mariira Campus for environmental and agricultural studies, which has increased business opportunities in the town.

Murang'a Municipality Manager Beatrice Gicheha says her office has been managing Kangari market, and they are waiting for the inauguration of its board.

"Kangari is one of the fastest growing markets where there are a lot of opportunities despite lack of land for expansion," said Ms Gicheha.

Surrounded by four tea factories - Nduti, Gacharage, Makomboki and Ikumbi - it also hosts financial institutions including Equity Bank, Family Bank, KCB, Unaitas, Amica and Mentors.

Bank sources say the town generates not less than Sh15 million per day, as it attracts buyers of the commodities from the region.

The market, with only a few storeyed buildings owned by the elderly who had formed groups in the post-independence era, is at the foothills of the Aberdare.

In the 1990's there were tens of saw mills, which closed after the government banned logging in State forests.

However, the town has undergone transformation owing to the ongoing construction of a modern market at Sh340 million by the national government and improving road networks under the smart cities programme by Governor Irungu Kang'ata.

In the 1980's, Kangari market was dominated by families, which were reluctant to rent business space to outsiders fearing a takeover, but with the growth of the population a lot has changed.

Peter Karanja, a resident, says the market has continued enjoying transformation as more traders from far and wide set up operations there.

Karanja, a resident of Gatundu, says he has been residing in Kangari after he shifted from Nairobi to set up a grocery shop, appreciating the steady growth based on the increased rental houses for employees in the four tea factories.

"I relocated from Nairobi four years ago and found it fit for the family to settle due to less expenses," he says.

Unaitas Sacco Chairman Solomon Mureithi says Kangari has grown to great heights with most young people seeking business opportunities.

He says after the major banks closed branches in the late 1990's, Unaitas Sacco moved in to save the locals from travelling to Murang'a and Thika for banking services.

"The market is financially stable owing to hundreds of tea farmers transacting their businesses in Kangari and its environs," says Mureithi.

Mercy Kaugo, a trader, says the county government should construct shelters for traders as many were operating along the road reserve.

"It is a pity that some of the traders transact their businesses along the road, which endangers their lives," she says.

Kangari MCA Moses Mirara says the county government is working towards improved garbage collection to match the increased revenue generation.

He says the areas in the market that were previously inaccessible are now open after roads were tarmacked, thus increasing business opportunities.

Kigumo MP Joseph Munyoro says Kangari is disadvantaged due to lack of a public primary school, forcing the children to be enrolled in private institutions.

"Kigumo NG-CDF allocated resources to buy a parcel of land. We are looking for land where the school will be constructed, with children walking long distances to Ikumbi, Mwarano or Gatimu primary schools," he says.

Construction of the market is expected to be completed in December.