Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui has said the devolved unit will source for finances from the World Bank funded Kenya Informal Settlement Project (KISP) to construct a market for over 1,000 small scale traders set to be evicted from the oil pipeline way leave in Kaptembwa.
Mr. Kinyanjui affirmed that he supported relocation of the traders as encroachment on the pipeline that conveys high inflammable oil fuels to Eldoret and Kisumu puts the businessmen and thousands of their customers at great risk in case of a fire outbreak.
The governor who was accompanied by Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga and Nakuru Town West Member of Parliament Samuel Arama said the County government will prioritize the proposed new market when making an application for the second phase of KISP funding.
Mr. Hinga asked the traders to be patient as the first phase of KISP funding of projects countrywide had ended while the second one will be launched within a few weeks.
Traders who attended the meeting at Soko Mjinga market in Kaptembwa said though they knew the risks involved they were only ready to move from the dangerous site if allocated alternative trading spaces.
Kenya Pipeline Company head of security Walter Ochieng said an eviction notice issued two months ago had expired, and they are engaging the Interior ministry on the next course of action.
Ochieng expressed concern that even though the firm has held several meetings with the traders, they have remained adamant that they will not move.
“The traders are also exposed to high electricity voltage as they are operating under the power line” he said.
Mr. Hinga said that the National government was encouraging counties to set aside funds disbursed under various programs towards constructing alternative markets for traders operating in high risk areas.
The governor said his administration was committed to empowering small scale traders by setting up markets in areas that were safe, secure and accessible.
He cited the upgrading of the Nakuru Main market, construction of a fish mall in Naivasha and building of a farm produce market in Kihingo in Njoro as areas of priority.
He said that an audit of the projects conducted under the first phase of KISP had established the works were carried out to specified standards and that funds were used in a transparent manner.
“In the past three years, Sh. 471 million from KISP has been spent on refurbishing and putting up ultramodern facilities at Heshima and Kaptembwa primary and Nakuru West Secondary schools.
Investments in Education sector under the Kenya Informal Settlement Project (KISP) are targeting to improve access to quality and affordable education,” said the governor.
The governor said a further Sh. 471 million had been spent on upgrading of non-motorized roads
Mr. Arama who said that he supported the town’s elevation to city status called on the residents to maintain projects that had been carried out under the programme.
“It does not make sense that a few months after drainages were constructed some residents are deliberately clogging them with garbage. We have all seen the consequences of flooding and it is our duty to take good care of these investments” said the MP.
The MP also appealed to traders who have encroached footpaths within the Central Business District and estates to relocate as they were exposing pedestrians to road accident risks.
Hinga noted that during the first phase of KISP funding, Nakuru County had been allocated Sh. 1.2 billion.
He said that the government was putting an enabling environment for investors in the housing sector by improving infrastructure and connecting many parts of the country to water, sewerage and electricity services.
Onesmus Otakwa Mundele, a carpenter and father of ten, said he has operated in the area for 25 years. “I have been eking out a living from this place for the better part of my life, if I will be evicted there must be an alternative,” he said.
Mary Maina, a vegetable vendor said the issue should not be used for political gains and that the county needs to fulfill its obligation to provide an alternative site for small scale traders.
“It is our right to have a safe market before being evicted. Politicians have been using the issue to gain mileage while failing to provide sustainable solutions. They should keep off as measures are put in place to construct a new market,” she said.
By Anne Mwale