Deputy President William Ruto was once a chicken seller, carrying out his trade at Kambi Kuku market along the busy Eldoret— Malaba Highway.
Ruto braved the scorching sun to sell chicken to motorists at the railway crossing point then as a student. That was years before he got his big break.
But the future of Kambi Kuku now looks bleak following the re-carpeting of the road, a major artery linking Kenya and Uganda.
The Sh7.4 billion Road construction project that started two years ago has led to the elimination of speed bumps that existed on the highway — these made motorists to slow down giving the traders an opportunity to sell their fowls.
“We no longer make major sales, survival has become tough for us as the vehicles no longer reduce their speed when they approach Kambi Kuku,” said Sylvester Kiplagat, the chairperson of the chicken sellers.
“We used to sell at least 20 birds on a bad day, before the road project started. But now even selling five birds is not easy. Even doing business is dangerous as we stand the risk of being knocked down,” added Kiplagat, who leads a self-help group of 25 businesspersons who ply their trade at Kambi Kuku.
Birds at Kambi Kuku go for between Sh250 and Sh750, depending on size and among the prominent regular customers include; MPs Enock Kibunguchy (Likuyani), John Waluke(Sirisia) and former Minister Cyrus Jirongo.
Besides business slump, the traders are having sleepless nights over lack of proper shelter come the rainy season. Save for a make-shift grass thatched shade with rickety benches they made for themselves, there are neither shades when the sky opens up, nor toilets for calls of nature.
Gideon Koskey, who has sold chicken at the spot for the last two decades, says come the rains we “have to close business and rush home... most of our customers taunt us, wondering why we operate in difficulty yet our former ‘colleague’ DP Ruto is occupying the second powerful position in the land.”
Moses Kogo a political activist from the area argued that the Uasin Gishu County Government “has created market stalls for roadside traders in Burnt Forest and other areas, and that the same should be done to Kambi Kuku people.”