MP faults Governor Otuoma for failing to resettle traders

Busia Fish traders sorting out salted fish from Lake Turkana before they repackaged them and export them to the Democratic Republic of Congo on December 1, 2021. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga has criticized Busia Governor Paul Otuoma for failing to resettle small-scale traders whose stalls were demolished nine months ago.

In February, the county government demolished illegal structures along major streets in Busia town and promised to resettle the affected traders, however this is yet to happen.

Odanga now wants Dr Otuoma to fast-track the construction of new stalls and resettlment of the small-scale traders.

“We want the county government to move with speed and construct new and modern stalls for our business people. You cannot demolish people’s structures even if they are illegal, then fail to offer an alternative for them,” he said.

The MP claimed that failure to resettle the traders has led to insecurity cases in the border town.

“We are experiencing high cases of insecurity because people are jobless, they do not have a place to operate from. We want our MCAs to petition the governor to move with speed and ensure business people who were affected have a conducive place to do their business,” said Odanga.

“We cannot be talking of uplifting those at the lower cadre and encouraging the culture of saving when small traders have nowhere to do their business and earn a living, and yet it is now almost a year down the line since structures were demolished and people were promised that they would be resettled,” he added.

The MP also challenged the governor to make public his one-year development scorecard.

“We are all leaders, and our mandate is to serve the people, but as we end one year in office for accountability, we want our governor to tell the people of Busia his performance and how he used own source revenue and equitable shareable revenue from the national government,” he said.

“Our governor should learn to take criticism. We just want him to give us his scorecard so that the people of Busia can rate and judge his performance. He should stop lamenting and fighting back when he is put to task on matters of development,” he added.

Matayos Deputy County Commissioner Chaka Nyamawi acknowledged that there are high cases of insecurity in the border town, especially motorbike theft and promised to employ a multi-agency approach to tame the menace.

In March, Otuoma said the affected traders will be resettled once the town is reorganized to ensure order.

The reorganization was done in all towns within Busia county, from the town to Bumala, Malaba, Nambale, Port Victoria, Funyula, and Sio Port.

“We must change to enjoy the fruits of devolution, and this is why we have started with the reorganization of Busia town to open opportunities and promote business for our people. After reorganization, we will then resettle our traders and those affected to promote their business and trade in Busia county," he said.

"We must take a painful decision if we want to upgrade our county and uplift the lives of our people economically, and that is why we have decided to go on with demolition despite few outcries from traders," he added.

The governor said the reorganisation of the town was geared towards having dual carriage roads because Busia is a border county, yet it has dilapidated structures and is congested, making it difficult for smooth operations of the transport sector and trade.

Otuoma noted that the town has no parking space for long-distance trucks going to neighbouring countries, leading to a snarl-up in town, which has denied the devolved unit the chance to effectively collect revenue due to confusion and lack of order.

The County Executive Committee Member for Lands and Urban Planning, Peter Odima, said they plan to construct parking lots, build modern lockable kiosks in earmarked areas, improve green gardens and free government land to attract investors.

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