At the heart of Kenol township, Murang’a county lies a lucrative sand business enterprise, whose owners are currently hard pressed by low business, despite the town’s rampant growth.
Packed in more than 50 trucks on any given day, the sand traders who try to persuade passerby’s in anticipation of potential buyers, now remain hopeful that the county government will lower their daily levies as a way of cushioning them from the difficult times they are experiencing.
One of the traders, Samson Muchoki confirms that since he joined the booming business in 2010, it was all bliss until recent years, when their profit margins started dropping at an alarming rate.
“Since I joined this trade, I have never experienced such a difficult time like today. Initially we made huge profits since the commodity is very popular here, since Kenol is a centralized place and people from Thika, Sagana, Nyeri and other areas of central Kenya find it an ideal location to purchase sand for their construction needs,” observes Muchoki.
However, things changed drastically after coronavirus pandemic hit the country and other parts of the world.
“We source the sand from rivers Tana and Dera in Machakos County and in the past I could make up to three trips in a week, cashing in more than sh4,000 per trip, but now even making one trip surely passes for a great week” he says.
“There are drivers who have not left the parking lot for weeks as we speak. Some have been here for two weeks, and others even three,” lamented Muchoki.
“The high government levies have not made things easier for us, but we are optimistic that our newly installed governor, Irungu Kang’ata will reconsider the current taxes and reduce them, since they were by far too high for our already struggling trade,” he noted.
Yet another trader, Boniface Nyoike recounted that they used to pay Sh200 to the county government per trip, but now are being charged Sh700 making it difficult for them to make any profit.
Like the rest of the traders, Nyoike remains hopeful that the new county administration will move with speed and reduce the levies, so that the concerned sand traders can continue earning a livelihood from the dwindling venture.
By Florence Kinyua