The government will set up an intra-government committee to seek solutions to management challenges facing Karatina Market Hub in Nyeri County.
Traders at the Sh. 475 million facility which is the largest open air market in East Africa and also the second largest in Africa after Kano in Nigeria have in the recent past raised concerns over some challenges which they want the government to address in order to allow them operate efficiently and realize benefits from the modern market.
The development comes in the wake of a media report last week alleging that the traders had shunned the market leading to two of the three floors being unoccupied and turned to a playground for children who join their parents after school.
Another issue of concern to the traders carried in the report was unregulated business where some traders operating from upper floors claimed they were disadvantaged because similar commodities are sold in the open-air area.
The report further alleged that traders were staring at a possible disease outbreak due to poor hygiene occasioned by lack of drainage and uncollected garbage.
Speaking after a fact finding mission on Tuesday, the Nyeri County Commissioner (CC), David Kipkemei said the government was committed to ensuring that the traders occupying the market operate in a conducive and business friendly environment and would go out of its way to resolve any challenges facing the market.
He said a team comprising of officers from both the County and National governments would be formed and tasked with the responsibility of tackling operational issues being raised by the traders.
Kipkemei noted that although the facility was put by the national government, the day to day running of the market was in the hands of the county government in conformity with the requirements of devolution.
While appreciating there could be issues requiring intervention, the CC who was led a team of County Development and Implementation Coordination Committee (CDICC) said the issues were not as serious as alleged.
“From our initial findings, the challenges here are not as much as were indicated in the report,” said the CC, noting that the problems had been blown out of proportions,”
He said the issue of some traders being disadvantaged by virtue of their location was as a result of the county government failing to enforce products zoning structure.
“If zoning was done properly and you come here and find that the only place to get what you want is in the third floor, you will definitely go there,” Kipkemei said.
He said if the county government implemented and enforced zoning appropriately, every trader would enjoy equal chance of doing business smoothly.
The CC continued that business environment was not a ticking time bomb for diseases outbreak as alleged, noting: “from our tour, there was no indication of an open sewer.”
Kipkemei said their findings will go a long way in bringing a lasting solution to the problems facing the market that was officially opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year after eight years wait.
By Kiamah Wamutitu