Kisumu traders defy authorities, starts "Corona Market"

Traders who were evicted from Kibuye market have started a market along the bypass connecting Busia Road and Nairobi road in Kisumu. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]

Hit by coronavirus restrictions, traders in Nyanza have come up with methods to evade authorities and sell their goods.

They have now built a makeshift market they have dubbed “Corona Market” to counter the decision by the county government to close all markets on the wake of the coronavirus.

Yesterday, as police officers stood guard at Kibuye market to prevent anyone from accessing it, the traders were busy selling their goods in their new market along Kondele-Nairobi road.

This as authorities unsuccessfully tried to evict them from the new imarket that is exposing more residents at the Covid-19 risk. 

When The Standard visited the market yesterday, several of the business people were busy hawking foodstuffs.

Police officers had lobbed teargas canisters moments earlier and dispersed them, but they quickly regrouped as the cat and mouse game continued.

Authorities yesterday admitted that they were experiencing challenges with removing the traders from the illegal market.

Kisumu County Commissioner Susan Waweru said authorities are planning to move the traders to four other markets within Kisumu.

He stressed that action will be taken on those violating the social distancing order.

 She noted that the markets will enable the traders to only handle one customer at a time.

 “We have tried to tell them they are also at a risk of contracting the virus but they are refusing to move,” said Mr Waweru.

 His sentiments were echoed by Kisumu county director of communication Aloyce Ager who lashed at the traders for refusing to observe health directives. 

 “We have engaged them, but they are not listening. They will be forcefully dispersed,” said Mr Ager.

This comes as the region began experiencing a shortage of essential foodstuffs.

The Standard also established that most of the traders have now resorted to selling their goods at makeshift sites in a number of estates in Kisumu that are always jammed with customers.

The developments is set to provide a fresh headache in attempts to implement health directives against.

Mike Oduor, one of the traders, said that he was forced to move to the new market to feed for his family. 

“Staying at home with mouths to feed is hard, we just have to come and sell,” Mr Oduor said.

Stephen Ochieng, another trader said that he had to adjust to the new rules and open his shop early compared to previous days when he would open late.

Mr Ochieng said he had to join hands with his wife in the fruits and vegetables business after he closed down his cereals business in Busia.