Traders move to estates after markets closed

Traders who were evicted from Kibuye market have moved on the bypass connecting Busia Road and Nairobi road in Kisumu. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

After the closure of key markets in Nyanza to curb the spread of coronavirus, traders in Kisumu are now evading authorities to sell goods in defiance of the order not to crowd.

Unlike a few weeks ago when they sold their wares from stalls in the markets, the traders are now engaging in a cat and mouse game with authorities to make money. They have named their new area of operation “corona market,” in Kondele slums.

When we visited the area yesterday, traders were busy hawking foodstuff. A few minutes earlier, police officers had lobbed teargas canisters to force them out of the place.

This comes as the region begins experiencing shortage of essential foodstuff as the fast-selling commodities run out.

Sunday Standard also established that most of the traders have now resorted to selling goods in estates.

The new areas of operation are a health hazard as they lack basic amenities like toilets and water points.

Some traders said they had resorted to selling goods on line.

A trader, Mike Oduor said they were forced to move to the bypass to keep their businesses running. “Staying at home with mouths to feed is hard, we just have to come and sell,” Oduor said.

The traders lamented that the 7pm to 5am curfew will deny them the much needed money as they get a lot of customers late into the evening.

Stephen Ochieng who sells fruits and vegetables said he has been forced to open his shop early and close at 6:30 pm unlike previously when he used to operate from 10am to 9pm.

Ochieng said that he had to join heads with his wife in the fruits and vegetables business after he closed down his cereals business which was hit by the closure of Busia border.

“I had to close down my cereals business after I ran out of stock and could not go for more stocks at the border,” he said.

Ochieng explained that they wake up early to buy produce at Nyamasaria, which was turned into a bus stop after PSV vehicles were banned from the main bus terminus in the lakeside city.

The traders lamented about the increasing cost of goods, noting that a box of onions goes for Sh90 up from Sh70 while the cost of tomatoes has increased from Sh2,500 to Sh4,500.

“The prices have increased making it hard for us,” Emily Moraa said adding that onions are directly placed in the stores and they end up going bad.

A spot check in Tom Mboya and Manyatta estates revealed that some vegetable vendors were operating from deserted alleys. To avoid incurring loses when authorities strike, the traders display a few goods and leave the rest in sacks.