Traders agree to move for construction of Sh60m modern fish market

A trader repackages fish destined for Kenya at the Busia Main Market Uganda. The traders have deviced tactics that see them evade Kenyan authorities and taxes. [Ignatious Odanga/Standard]

More than 500 open-air market traders have agreed to temporarily relocate to Kenya’s security strip at Soko Matope to pave way for construction of a modern fish market.

They, however, appealed to the county and national governments to assure them of their security because they are going to operate on the Kenya-Uganda border.

The county, through the World Bank, is set to start constructing a Sh60 million cross-border fish market at the Busia border after the contractor signed a tender agreement last Friday.

According to officials in the department of Agriculture, the contractor is expected to take six months to complete the project, which will enable the traders operate in a conducive environment.

The traders have been operating in makeshift structures and with no sewerage system since the market was started more than three decades ago.

Market plan

Busia Cross-Border Fish Market Management Unit chairman Francis Akech praised the county government for prioritising the market's construction.

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“We have agreed to relocate to a temporary place for six months. We are glad that the county has assured us the new site will be guarded by our security officers,” said Mr Aketch.

Aketch said the traders need clean water, toilets and electricity to ensure that they can preserve and store their fish.

Busia fish market is one of the largest in East Africa and the county government is said to be collecting more than Sh50,000 in revenue from fish traders monthly.

At least 30 tonnes of fish valued at Sh12 million, from Uganda and Lodwar in Turkana, are offloaded at the market daily before being transported to various towns in the country.

Agriculture and Animal Resources Executive Moses Osia yesterday said he will ensure the project is completed on time.

"We are committed to ensuring that our traders operate from a neat environment and soon the contractor will be on site,” said Mr Osia. 

Fisheries Department officer-in-charge of Timothy Odende said the ground floor of the building will house refrigerators for preserving fresh fish.

Plans are also at an advanced stage for the construction of the Sh1 billion Busia Jumuiya market.

Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s administration supported the construction of the Jumuiya market on condition that revenue collected from the facility would be shared between the county and national governments.

The market, to be built by the Ministry of East African Community and Trade Mark East Africa, will serve Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Donating land

Mr Ojaamong said the county had been shortchanged by the national government after donating land to set up one-stop border posts in Busia and Malaba.

According to the governor, the State reneged on a promise to construct trailer and taxi parks in return for the land.

“Even after giving out land for the two posts, the Kenya Revenue Authority has locked the county out of all revenue collected at the border points.

“We don’t want to suffer the same fate again so we will only support construction of the market if we are assured that we shall be getting a share of the revenue."

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Soko MatopeKenya-Uganda borderFrancis AkechBusia County