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County government and miraa traders on collision course as town upgrade starts

NEWS
By Phares Mutembei | Jun 4th 2019 | 2 min read
By Phares Mutembei | June 4th 2019
NEWS
Men at Gaciongo Market in Maua, Meru County load a Pick-up that ferries miraa from Meru to Mandera County. [Darlington Manyara/Standard]

Miraa traders in Maua town have protested the decision to block their loading bays in the ongoing facelift by the county government.

The traders said though they were not opposed to the upgrade of the town, they had not been given adequate time to look for alternative areas to operate from.

At a meeting convened by Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi, the traders said removing the miraa loading bays in Kaciongo, at the entrance of Maua town, would leave them with no place to operate from.

Phillip Kobia, the chairman of the miraa hawkers and kiosk owners, said the county government had not given them adequate time to vacate the area nor consulted them.

"While we are not against the project because we need a better environment to operate, the project must be done in a way that will not displace us. Without the sheds, miraa will be rained on and its quality affected. Maua grew because of miraa so there is need for the government to involve all stakeholders,” Mr Kobia said.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association official Kimathi Munjuri said works to enhance the image of Maua as the ‘capital’ of miraa was welcome.

“Kaciongo has looked rugged for far too long but what we seek is for the county government to offer us an alternative place as the works are undertaken,” said Mr Munjuri.

Asking the traders to look for alternative location as the works continue, Maua town administrator Timothy Mwenda said the structures had been erected on road reserve and there was need to remove them to pave way for improvement of infrastructure.

Mwenda said the structures were spoiling the face of the town hence the need to replace them with better structures.

“We have agreed that those who have erected structures to remove them as we work to improve the face of town,” said Mwenda, assuring the traders the project will not "stop" miraa trade.

Mwenda said the contractor was on site and would start laying drainage system and excavation of the area in preparation for cabro paving.

The MP said he had spoken with Governor Kiraitu Murungi and presented the traders' concerns.

Mwirigi said the traders were paying millions of shillings in cess for miraa carrying vehicles and they needed to be assured they would not suffer.

Maua Town MCA George Muthuri said the Miraa Task force Implementation team planned to build a market for traders in the space occupied by the National Cereals and Produce Board.

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