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Busia traders to benefit from Sh30.6 million market

Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) in collaboration with the State Department for East Africa and the County Government of Busia have embarked on construction of a Sh30.6 million Safe Trade Zone with a view to cushioning traders from Covid-19.

East African Affairs PS Dr. Kevit Desai handing over a jerrican of hand sanitizers to one of the Cross Border Women Traders at Soko Posta Grounds in Busia. Photo by Salome Alwanda

The facility, with a capacity of 300 stalls will accommodate traders whose businesses were interrupted by Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Kenyan government to ensure social distance with a view to containing of the virus.

Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony for the facility at Posta grounds in Busia, East African Affairs Principal Secretary Dr. Kevit Desai expressed the government’s commitment to raise trade levels in the region from the current 15% to 60%.

“Cross border traders are key to the region attaining the desired levels of inter-regional trade. As a government we are committed to build the capacity of cross border traders and facilitate them more. I thank Trade Mark East Africa and donors, the EU, Canada and Ireland for the Safe Trade Zones Project that is greatly supporting this agenda,” he said.

Dr. Desai stated that Busia Safe Trade Zone Market will be constructed and managed in strict compliance of health protocols to ensure trade continues without the risk of Covid-19 transmissions to traders, customers and authorities operating within the markets.

The PS disclosed that the facility will be funded by a consortium of donors among them the development agencies of Canada, European Union, Netherlands and Ireland through regional trade agency, Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) and its construction is expected to take 4 months.

Trade Mark Country Director for Kenya Ahmed Farah reiterated that the Busia Safe Trade Zone would enable many small-scale traders to continue with their businesses in a safe and hygienic market that observes all Covid-19 protocols.

“Whereas the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected every segment of our economies, the impact among small-scale traders who have to physically carry out their trade has been disproportionate.

The Safe Trade Zone we are launching today and other components of the Safe Trade Emergency Facility that we have been implementing are geared towards alleviating these interruptions,” he said.

Busia Deputy County Commissioner Kipchumba Ruto urged the women to utilize the opportunity to enhance their living standards.

Ruto urged TMEA to empower the women with their own means of transport with a view to reducing the cost of public transport.

The Chairperson of Cross Border Women traders Florence Atieno hailed the initiative, adding that the women have been looking forward to it.

Atieno stated that the facility will address numerous challenges currently being faced by traders like health and accidents while carrying out their activities.

East African Affairs PS Dr. Kevit Desai during the ground breaking Ceremony for the Safe Trade Zone Market at Soko Posta Grounds on Friday July 23, 2021. Photo by Salome Alwanda

“The market will support women by reducing accidents, providing storage facilities and day care centre,” she said.

She further stated that the facility will provide more job opportunities for youth and women by enhancing economic status of those who were affected by the Covid- 19 pandemic.

“We want to thank TMEA for its continuous support to women during this covid 19 pandemic,” she said, adding that the organization supported 1,500 women with PPEs at the beginning of this year.

Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi thanked the National Government and other partners for supporting Busia County through the facility.

Mulomi said that the facility will be constructed in two phases at a total cost of Sh53 million with the first phase costing Sh30.6 million.

He further thanked TMEA for supporting traders at Nambale and Matayos, adding that 1,200 traders have been supported financially to enhance their trade.

“As a department of trade, we will ensure that the programme is extended to support more traders,” he said.

By Salome Alwanda

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