Traders vow to block operations at parking lot over land grabbing claims
By Abigael Sum
| January 28th 2015
Nairobi, Kenya: Traders at Nairobi’s City Market on Wednesday protested over alleged land grabbing by a private developer.
The City Market Traders Association claim a piece of land, which is municipal property and was a proposed extension site, has been taken up and is being used as a car park.
Speaking to the Press, City Market Central Committee Secretary Antony Kuria said the market was established for only 140 traders but has since grown to over 5,000 traders with another 1,000 people, clients and suppliers visiting the market each day.
“There is serious congestion at the market which is impacting negatively on its operations hence the need to expand and accommodate these growing numbers. This might, however, not be possible because land reserved for this project has since been grabbed,” he said.
The traders have vowed no vehicle will be allowed to park there starting next Monday, until the matter is resolved.
“We will put our businesses on hold and bar any attempts to park vehicles until the market is given back this piece of land,” Kuria said.
The traders now want President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene so they can be given priority in developing the land and have asked Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to ensure court orders pertaining to the land are obeyed.
They also asked Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu to ensure the original title deeds for the two plots are issued to reflect the Government as the rightful owner.
The traders say city market was divided into two in 1992 - LR/209/1855/1 where the buildings are and LR 209/155/2, which was empty and designated as a car park.
The empty plot was however soon given to a private company called Market Plaza Ltd and fenced off, which marked the beginning of court battles. In 1992, after their case was thrown out of court, the traders joined hands with the late Prof Wangari Maathai and some opposition leaders to pull down the fence and forcefully reclaimed the plot.
According to committee member Ann Wanjira, the traders got some kind of reprieve in 2010 when on November 26, the Registrar of Titles in Nairobi issued a Gazette notice revoking the title awarded to Market Plaza saying the allocation was illegal since the land was reserved for the city council as a public market.
“The two plots reverted to Government and it stands to date. Despite this, they managed to lease the land to another faceless company, Metro Park Ltd,” she said.
The firm, through Diira Investments, charges Sh250 for every vehicle parked there allegedly earning Sh40,000 each day. The market officials said they have also reached out to Governor Evans Kidero for help, but they are yet to get any form of assistance in reclaiming their land from his office.
“The governor himself promised to look into our plea. It has been two years since he last visited the market and made that promise, but nothing has been done to that effect. We want our land back and it appears his office is not listening to us,” Kuria said.
A Gazette notice of April 2009 declared the market a national monument hence no new construction can be undertaken without authority from Kenya National Museums.
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