Irony of Kondele, a peri-urban centre that lacks a public toilet

An aerial view of Kondele roundabout in Kisumu County. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

For several years, Kondele has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It is usually the hardest hit during political upheavals leading to deaths and untold destruction of property. Locals consider it a crime headquarters that is best known for looting, extortion and political intolerance.

On the flip side, it is one of the fastest-growing peri-urban centers in Kisumu County that has attracted several investments and is the only area that is considered a 24 hour-economy due to its vibrant activities.

Kondeleis a bustling dusty estate in Kisumu. It is near here where the first President Jomo Kenyatta was pelted with stones in 1969 during the launch of the New Nyanza General Hospital. Several people were killed and many others injured. 

In the just-concluded polls, Kondele surprised many as no incidents if violence were reported after the announcement of the presidential results that went against the expectations of residents.

And, as its economy continues to thrive, all is not well in Kondele despite the huge number of people who ply their trade there as it lacks a public toilet.

Traders at the congested Kondele business centre have called on the county government to remove the shame by putting up public toilets in the area.

Most of them have been forced to relieve themselves in dark alleys and isolated corners while others pay bar operators to use their toilets.

Speaking to The Standard, the traders said that their efforts to get the county government of Kisumu to intervene have been futile.

Isaiah Okello, a second-hand clothes trader and also Secretary General of the Kondele Market Traders Association says they have had several meetings with the county government but are yet to get a solution.

The traders have also been lobbying with the Kenya National Highways Authority which owns a huge chunk of the land where the trading area sits to build them a toilet but that too is yet to bear fruit.

According to Okoth, the traders especially female ones have a difficult time in the conducting their businesses there due to lack of public toilets. 

“It is really unfortunate. We have been suffering. Bearing in mind that there are women here who work here the whole day but have nowhere to relieve themselves," Okoth said.

Lack of public toilets has forced Okoth in his capacity as the secretary general to rent a private premise for the members of his trading group where they can go to relieve themselves, though this eats into the traders' profits.

"I'm appealing to Governor Anyang' Nyong'o to build for us at least three toilets. One to the Mudasa side, Police lane and Transport Sector area," Okoth stated.

His call was echoed by Joshua Owino, chairman of Kondele Bunge la Wanainchi who asked the county government of Kisumu to solve the standoff with KeNHA.

“When KeNHA were repairing the roads in Kondele, they took down the public toilets near the police station, and those were the ones we were using,” Owino said.

Attempts to get a comment from the city management were, however, futile.

According to area MCA Joachim Oketch, it has been difficult to put up a permanent structure because the area lies mostly on a road reserve.

"We have bought three mobile toilets which we will be handing over to the traders in January," claimed Oketch.