When Ngegu market in Homa Bay County died 33 years ago, traders were left without hope.
But a week ago, the market was reopened at a ceremony presided over by area MCA Michael Nyang’i and the county department of trade.
The market, located in Kochia ward within Rangwe constituency, was started in 1950s and was a vibrant trading hub until 1986 when it died. In its peak, it was the place to be for traders from Homa Bay, Kisii and Nyamira counties.
Mary Ager, 64, recalls its heyday when traders’ pockets bulged with cash from sales at the market.
Ms Ager traded in cereals at the time; between 1974 and 1986.
Tuesdays and Fridays were Ngegu market days. However, traders could continue selling their goods on the other days of the week.
“Ngegu market used to attract traders from Nyamira and Kisii counties. It was growing rapidly when I began doing business here,” Ager said.
But in 1985, the market began deteriorating. So fast was its decline that by the following year, it was virtually dead.
The market’s death was linked to business rivalry and construction of the Homa Bay-Kendu Bay highway, which was located about 800m from the trading centre.
Retired Chief Samson Ang’ila blames three prominent businessmen whom he claims were behind the ejection of non-local traders who sold second hand clothes, popularly known as ‘mitumba’.
The business rivalry became perilous since sale of second hand clothes was the key driver in growth of the market.
Rerouting the road from the trading centre also interfered with accessibility of the market by people from other sub-counties.
Out of over 30 semi-permanent buildings, which existed those days, only three still stand today.
Mr Nyang’i said more than 2,000 traders will benefit from the market, which is expected to serve traders from Rangwe, Homa Bay Town and Karachuonyo.
He said they chose to revive the market as a way of empowering locals financially.
A number of traders, including Ager, who shifted from selling cereals to second hand clothes turned up for the event, with market chairman Benson Ogeno expressing joy at its reopening.
“We have begun allotment of plots to traders for construction of kiosks. I appeal to those who grabbed the market land to move out peacefully,” Ogeno said.
Homa Bay County acting Chief Officer for Trade Antipus Ng’ete expressed optimism that the market will generate more revenue.
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