Kisumu jua kali artisans given alternative land to ply trade

Kisumu, Kenya: Jua kali artisans, who had occupied a piece of land owned by a businessman within Kisumu city’s central business district, have been relocated.

The 250 artisans, who mostly comprise of mechanics and motor spare-part dealers, had been occupying the plot along Otieno Oyoo Road in the CBD, where thugs used to masquerade as mechanics and con unsuspecting motorists.

The relocation comes months after a report by The Standard, detailed the antics used by the tricksters to steal spare parts and vehicles from motorists.

The expose led to ejection of the fake mechanics by their genuine counterparts, with some of them being frogmarched to Central Police Station and prosecuted.

The group is said to have even had a chairman with an office.

The plot has been at the centre of an ownership dispute between Manjeet Sembi and the artisans, with a civil case filed at the High Court in Kisumu dragging on for eight years.

On October 2, Sembi obtained a court order to forcefully evict the mechanics, before Kisumu City Manager Doris Ombara intervened and managed to convince the two parties to settle the matter out of court.

“This is a big group of people who are working hard to fend for themselves. They include mothers who operate food kiosks and we didn’t want to throw them out without offering them an alternative,” Ms Ombara said.

She added: “That is why the county government has given them an alternative piece of land located near the Kisumu Cotton Mills for them to continue with their businesses.”

Ombara confirmed that the county government will soon build toilets and erect floodlights to make the area conducive for business and secure.

Sembi pledged to help murram the new location.

“Peaceful co-existence is necessary for business to thrive. I am happy that we have agree to work together. I have donated 400 lorry loads of murram to level the new piece of land. I will also pay the artisans a goodwill sum of Sh2 million so that they are able to inject more money into their businesses.

No disruptions

The artisans also lauded the move, saying it will ensure minimal disruption of their operations.

“We are happy that we finally have a place we can called ours. We are grateful to the county government and Mr Sembi for their help. Our only challenge is to let our customers know that we have moved to a new location,” said Mohammed Odhiambo, the traders’ co-ordinator.