Genuine traders will be allocated stalls at the newly refurbished Eldoret wholesale market, Uasin Gishu County Chief Officer for Trade, Kipleting Mengich has assured.
The market which has more than 3,000 traders was closed down for one year by the public health department for failing to comply with health standards. The closure of the facility paved way for its renovation.
“We will handle the traders directly when allocating those stalls and not through cartels and brokers who want to take advantage and by posing as representatives of the genuine traders and hawkers,” he said.
However, the reopening of the market in the next two weeks is headed for a crisis between a group of traders and the county government, amid claims that the list of beneficiaries had been altered.
The Trade Chief Officer however, assured that the county government has a genuine list of the traders who will benefit from the stalls.
Mengich gave the assurance during a meeting with representatives of the traders at Eldoret town hall on Tuesday as the county plans to reopen the market.
He said the county together with the national government will coordinate the resettlement of genuine traders, who sold their goods in the market before it was closed.
But the Chairman of the Trader’s Association Eldoret Chapter, Zachary Maina asked the county government to postpone the decision to re-open the market until a case they filed at the High Court in Eldoret is heard and determined.
Plans to reopen the market without the court finalizing on the case will cause tension and animosity among the traders, over fears that non traders have been listed as beneficiaries, he added.
Maina expressed fears that those to be allocated stalls are people ferried from outside Eldoret town, thus locking out genuine traders, who have been operating their business at the facility for many years.
He said they skipped the town hall meeting despite being invited because a landmark ruling of the court case against the county administration over the closure of the market is coming up on March 1st.
But Mengich maintained that the allocation of stalls to traders on their list will go on as planned and dismissed Maina’s group as brokers who have been fleecing genuine traders for decades at the market.
He said they have already done 95 per cent of the renovation works by ensuring they comply with all the safety and environmental regulations.
The Lands and Environment Court Judge, Anthony Ombwayo directed the county administration to comply with orders directing it to speed up renovation work to allow traders resume their business.
By Kiptanui Cherono