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County shifts focus to markets to contain spread of corona virus

Traders at congested Kagio market where the county government has taken the initiative to decongest the place. Photo by Irungu Mwangi/KNA.

As  coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise, Kirinyaga County has now shifted its focus to fresh produce markets places to avert the spread of the virus.

The county hosts some of the busiest agricultural produce markets in Kenya which attract thousands of traders from all over the country and hence posing as potential hotspots for coronavirus spread.

The County Covid-19 Taskforce has stepped up efforts to decongest and decontaminate the markets.

To  ensure that the markets are decongested and that the social distancing rule is achieved, the county government has now extended the market space to include car parks and empty spaces bordering the markets.

The distance between sellers and buyers has also been demarcated and marked while traders are continuously being sensitized about respecting the 1.5 meter distance apart rule to protect themselves and their customers.

While inspecting the decongestion exercise in Kagio market, Governor Ann Waiguru stressed the importance of adhering to the laid down regulations on coronavirus.

She said that markets remained a fertile grounds for spread of the virus and therefore everything would be done to ensure that there is no crowding. She also demonstrated the 1.5 metres social distance rule to market traders.

Kagio market attracts thousands of traders from many counties, including Mombasa and Nairobi. Until the emergence of corona virus, traders observed two market days- Tuesday and Friday- which led to a lot of crowding.

The specific days have since been abolished and now traders are free to converge any day of the week as a way of reducing congestion on specific days.

The market deals in fresh produce mainly grown from the area and therefore sold cheaply. Closing the market would therefore have adverse effects on thousands of people who depend of food sourced from the market.

Kagio market banana traders have been relocated from the main fresh produce market to the nearby Kagio Secondary school grounds to enable social distancing. Law enforcement officers are also going round the markets to ensure that there is no crowding.

The  Governor said that the cabro-paved parking lot in Kagio would now serve as temporary market and urged the market traders to be in the front line in the fight against the coronavirus by ensuring that together with their customers, they adhere to the prescribed strict measures of prevention.

“We are going to be utilizing our parking spaces in Kagio, Kutus, Kerugoya and Kianyaga to expand the market spaces and if that is not enough, we are looking at utilizing empty spaces adjacent to the markets,” said Waiguru.

She further said that the county has also established hand washing points in market places and other public places. Kirinyaga county is yet to record a confirmed case of coronavirus.

“Our aim is to have at least a hand washing station in every ten meters in our public places since washing hands is one of the first line of defenses against the coronavirus,” she said.

The  governor who also led the county in fumigation of Kagio and Kutus markets said that the county has also come up with a schedule of fumigating all the markets, health facilities and other public places, appealing  to traders to allow for the fumigation exercises to be carried out as required.

By  Irungu Mwangi

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