Traders cry foul after empty promises of relocation
By Mumo Munuve | July 23rd 2020
Agnes Wangui looks nervous as she prepares to open a bale of second-hand clothes popularly known as mitumba.
The mother of three is among small scale traders whose stalls were demolished by Kakamega County government with a promise to relocate them.
Six months down the line, the traders have been forced to operate from pavements or makeshift structures.
“They promised that we would be relocated to a new market after a short while. Six months have elapsed but nothing has happened,” says Wangui.
The affected traders operated from Juakali region, Musingu, Somken, and the bus park centres in Kakamega town.
Jane Njoki, a small scale retailer accuses the county government of neglecting them in hard times.
Njoki says selling the goods under the scorching sun has denied them, customers.
“Sometimes customers decline to buy from us claiming that the products do not look fresh. Profits have really gone down as a result of this,” she laments.
Juakali Traders Association Chairman Moses Musundi faults the county government for misplaced priorities, saying traders should have been considered first before allocation of land for the burial of Covid-19 victims.
“Up to now, the county government has not communicated to traders whose kiosks were demolished. We are wondering whether this was a scheme to chase away small scale traders from the town,” he says.
Musundi wants the county government to compensate traders whose wares were destroyed during the demolitions.
“We want the issue of resettling the traders to be given the attention it deserves. We were not consulted on demolitions. The county should take responsibility and compensate those whose goods were destroyed in the process,” he says.
But the county government blames some traders for illegally subletting the stalls allocated to them.
“We decided to halt the process of giving out stores because some of the traders were illegally renting them out. We formed a special kiosks audit committee to investigate and determine genuine traders for allocation,” says an official of the county.
The official assures that plans are underway to build a bigger market under the Kenya Urban Support Programme in Sichirai for the affected traders.
“The county has constructed 30 more kiosks, which will be given out after the special committee gives recommendations," he says.
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