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Kisumu traders count losses as demolitions continue

Traders in Kisumu are counting losses after the government moved in to demolish structures erected on Kenya Railways land.
The demolition which kicked off two weeks ago seeks to pave way for the expansion of Kisumu Port which is expected to be reopened soon.
So far shops, hotels, business stalls, restaurants and eateries within the city and on the shores of Lake Victoria have been demolished.
According to Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCC) Kisumu Branch Chairman Israel Agina, over 3, 000 businessmen have been affected.
Agina added that 2, 000 people who were employed directly and indirectly by the establishments have been rendered jobless.
Traders at the populous Winmart Business Centre are crying foul with some lamenting that the notice issued to them had not expired.
Patrons at the popular eateries lamented over the move to demolish them saying they could not afford food at high end hotels within the Central Business District.
“Food at Winmart was cheap compared to other hotels like Acacia and Kisumu which are the only ones available,” said Billy Graham, a boda boda operator.
He added that the business centre provided them with a ready market since he could ferry passengers from the centre to various destinations.
Peter Opundo, a manager at The Lake City (TLC) restaurant which is owned by former Gem Member of Parliament (MP) Jakoyo Midiwo said it was unfortunate that the establishment was demolished before the expiry of a notice issued to them.
According to Opundo they were issued with an eviction notice by the Kenya Railways Cooperation on July 30 which stated that they had ninety days to vacate the premises.
The port of Kisumu which is being refurbished and expanded at a cost of Sh 3 billion is set to revive transportation of goods through Lake Victoria.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to lead his counterparts Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), John Magufuli (Tanzania), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Felix Tshisekedi (DRC), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) in reopening the port late August.
The port closed shop in 1978 after the collapse of the East African Community (EAC) crippling lake transport.
Whereas the port is touted to boost the economy of the lake region, the affected traders have expressed concern saying they were not certain that the facility will create jobs for thousands of youths rendered jobless.
By Kaunda Maxwell

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