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Largest livestock market re-opens after closure over Baringo insecurity

On average, 300 cows and more than 3,000 goats are sold each week. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The bleating of goats as herders led them to pens signified the coming back to life of Nginyang market in Tiaty subcounty, Baringo, after almost one year of closure over insecurity.

The country's largest livestock market was closed following the killing of security personnel in January.

On January 17, a General Service Unit commander, Tebakol Emadau, 53, was gunned down by bandits at Kapedo on the border of Baringo and Turkana counties.

Four days later, a chief inspector of police, Moses Lekairab, and his driver, police constable Benson Kaburu, were shot dead at Amayan bridge.

It would take meetings between Tiaty leaders led by MP William Kamket and the Rift Valley regional security team in Nakuru on July 6 to have the market reopened.

A week after the security meeting, Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis announced the market's reopening, saying its closure had crippled the livelihoods of locals who fully relied on livestock.

On Monday, traders crowded the livestock market as locals expressed their joy following its reopening.

"We are happy that the government saw it better to reopen the market. During the security operation, people sold their animals in the bush.

"At least the market has come back though the prices are still low, I am sure next week things will be back to normal,” said Locham Topongole, who was among the traders.

Topongole, a commissioner at the Baringo county public service board, said the prices were disappointing.

He had brought 30 goats and more than 10 cows for sale to raise school fees for his children.

Topongole, however, was forced to drive some of the animals back home because the market is yet to pick up. But the prices of goats had improved from Sh1,000 a few months ago to Sh3,000.

“I will bring back the animals next week knowing the prices will have stabilised,” he said.

The market attracts traders from as far as Nairobi, Eldoret and Kakamega that troop in on Mondays. On average, 300 cows and more than 3,000 goats are sold each week.

Boniface Ayabei, who was in the market to buy goats, said life was not easy for the period the market was closed. Ayabei buys and sells livestock to slaughterhouses.

He said police officers manning roadblocks took advantage of their desperation and demanded that they pay them to be allowed to the area.

Prisca Atolim, the chairperson Nginyang market, said locals would now afford a meal as they make money from livestock sales.

Locals, he said, were yet to believe the market has been reopened, noting that buyers from Nairobi and Turbo were yet to resume.

The county government of Baringo, she said, was also affected revenue-wise.

She disputed claims by a section of government officials who said the market encouraged cattle theft.

In April, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said they wanted to sanitise the markets and were on a mission to ensure bullets and stolen cows were not being sold there.

Baringo County Trade Minister Clement Lomaring’oria said the county also suffered following the closure of the market.

Lomaring’oria said the county would collect up to Sh1.1 million in revenue monthly from sale of goats alone. For the seven months, he said the county collected only Sh100,000 a month.

“Every Monday, locals sell around 2,500 goats and around 300 cows, which is a very good income to our county when it comes to revenue collection. We lost a lot,” he said.

The county, he added, is also pushing to have the Mogotio tannery completed. The tannery construction started in 2009 was established under the Economic Stimulus Programme.

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