Market projects that became costly monuments of shame

By Caroline Chebet | Thursday, Aug 16th 2018 at 21:50
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Kiratina market in Nakuru County. [PHOTO: Harun Wathari/Standard]

A rusty gate leads to a series of iron structures, struggling to remain upright.

One of the structures has since caved in, turning into a hideout for criminals by night and an open toilet by day.

The facility’s stores have since been vandalised and a thicket is slowly swallowing the fallen structure.

Welcome to Kiratina market in Nakuru East sub-county, one of the stalled markets started under the Economic Stimulus Programme projects introduced in 2009.

The ambitious project, just like Subukia Market that passers-by have turned into  a place where they relieve themselves; in the facility’s almost overflowing toilets, is a sad tale of how a huge chunk of Sh22 billion went down the drain, almost literally.

Just behind the stalled facility, second-hand clothes traders are squeezed in makeshift kiosks lined on the roadside, fighting for clients who are struggling to dodge vehicles.

“This market has stalled for years now, we do not think that there is any hope that it will be completed,” says Joseph Kariuki.

The only stock that sells in this stalled market is crime and filth.

“This place is not safe at night,” says Kariuki.

Similar scenario

The scenario is replicated at Subukia market. Behind its massive but empty structure, traders line up on the roadside in their makeshift kiosks.

“We can no longer wait on the government to complete the market because we will be the losers,” says Jane Njeri.

Unlike Kiraitina, the market’s main structure seems to have stood the test of time. It was designed to accommodate over 700 traders and cost about Sh25 million. Today, there is nothing to show for the money.

At Katembwa’s market, in Nakuru West, only one thing ‘is in stock’ in the incomplete structures-idleness. Here, the empty structures have become a haven for idlers who chat the day away.

“I think the government forgot that this market project ever existed,” says Prisca Chepkorir.

The story is the same at the Mau Narok and and Sachang’wan markets where traders operate from makeshift sheds next to incomplete structures.

“We pay taxes but everyday we end up staring at this massive structure that we do not use,” says Francis Karemi.

Only one market offers some hope that these white elephants might someday come to life. Opposite Kiratina, stands the Free Area market, partially complete with toilets, stores and a roof.

The floors however, have not been done, and traders line up outside awaiting the market’s opening.

“We stay because we want to remind the county that we still need space to operate,” says Jane Wanjiru.

Open air

The traders move their produce into the half-complete market whenever it rains and move back to the open after the last rain drop.

Despite this, they remain optimistic that one day they will freely sell their produce inside Free Area market.

Trade, tourism and industrialisation Executive Peter Ketyenya said the county had taken up some of the stalled market facilities.

“We are planning to finish them once funding is allocated,” he said.

 

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