Traders in Kisumu town have a reason to smile following reconstruction of two markets at a total cost of Sh615 million.
The National Government is putting up a new Sh350 million ultra-modern market that is nearing completion at Jua Kali area while the Kisumu County Government is reconstructing the iconic Kibuye market at a cost of Sh315million.
The Uhuru Business Complex is being constructed on a 23 acres of land surrendered by Kenya Railways following pleas from local traders to President Uhuru Kenyatta to accord them alternative land to do their business.
Through support from the World Bank (WB) funded Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP), phase one of the Kibuye market which was launched by Kisumu Governor Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o will cost Sh315 million.
Kibuye, one of the largest open-air markets in East and Central Africa has existed since the end of the colonial period.
However, it has received very little attention as a space of great social and economic significance over the years.
The market which offers goods from groceries to shoes, and services from medical treatment to carpentry is one of Kisumu’s largest revenue streams generating up to Sh 20 million during market days.
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of the project, Prof Nyong’o said once completed, the market will have four ablution blocks, a boundary wall, roads, walkways and foul water drainage.
Other facilities to be constructed, he said include offloading and customer front parking, shades and warehouse for the wholesale market, storm water drainage, elevated water storage tanks, flood lights, street lights and electricity connection.
He urged the contractor who has 54 weeks to deliver the project to stick to the timeline to ensure that the traders who were removed from the market in March are resettled.
The traders welcomed the decision to reconstruct the market saying, the two markets will create an enabling environment for them to do business.
They however appealed to the county government to ensure that only traders who were displaced when the market was closed down in March are allocated space once the project is completed.
Kisumu Acting City Manager Abala Wanga said priority shall be given to traders who were removed from the market to pave way for the reconstruction.
He asked the traders to be weary of brokers and conmen who are collecting money from unsuspecting traders under the guise of allocating them space at the market.
The reconstruction, he said was being done to ensure that traders operate in a clean and safe environment adding that all illegal stalls erected along the streets shall be demolished.
The reconstruction of the market comes under the backdrop of near completion of Uhuru Business Complex that is expected to absorb 4,000 traders in the first phase
The National Government project is set to resettle 4, 000 traders in the first phase, mainly those who were displaced from Railways land last year.
The Uhuru Complex market has designated sheds for eateries, fishmongers, butcheries, salons and boutiques, money transfer, bookshops and vegetable sellers.
On the other hand, the county government through support from development partners will complete phase two of Kibuye market once phase one is complete to ensure that all traders in the area are resettled.
Prof Nyong’o said the two markets will provide a long term solution to traders who will operate in a conducive environment complete with proper sanitation and security.
The county targets to have all traders and hawkers cleared from the streets of the town as it gears to host Afri-cities conference in November next year.
By George Kaiga /Chris Mahandara