The National government has kicked off construction of a modern Sh700 million municipal market and BusPark at the Old Fire station in Bondeni Estate within Nakuru East Sub-county with the objective of decongesting the Central Business District and boosting agriculture in the region.
The five-storey complex, which is expected to handle at least 150 tonnes of fresh produce, will complement Nakuru’s Top Market and Wakulima markets which are located within the Central Business District a kilometer away and the Sh47 million market still under construction at London trading centre, within Nakuru West Sub-County.
Speaking when he inspected construction works, Nakuru Municipal Board Manager Gitau Thabanja said the facility will also be fitted with sections to cater for textiles, cereals and jua kali sheds and will serve at least 100,000 residents, 6,500 of them being farmers from surrounding areas.
Mr Thabanja said the Sh600 million market which will be the largest in the County, will also serve as a wholesale source for bananas, mangoes, avocadoes, potatoes, passion fruits, water melons, sukuma wiki and cabbages which are produced in neighbouring Sub-Counties.
Phase two of the project will involve putting up a Sh 100 million modern bus terminus and parking lot for private vehicles at the site.
“We decommissioned the Old Fire Station and its adjoining County slaughter house to create space for a modern market and bus terminus.
The relocation of these social amenities will decongest the CBD and lead to orderly development and expansion of the town,” said the Municipal Manager.
He said the project will be completed within 18 months.
Mr Thabanja stated that construction of the market is set to provide a favourable environment and alleviate the problem of lack of enough selling space for over 3,000 traders.
Once complete he affirmed that a joint committee will be set up to come up with a list of traders who will be allocated spaces as well as establish the mechanism by which traders will be selected and how the market will be operated.
He said the committee would avert cases where impostors con innocent citizens through fake sale of market spaces and issuance of stalls in the proposed facility.
The Municipal Manager noted that the two markets under construction were strategically located for easy access by farmers from Rongai, Bahati, Njoro, Molo and Subukia Sub-Counties which are major producers of vegetables, fruits, cereals, poultry products, meat and milk.
“We are also glad that once operational, the new facilities will ease congestion of the markets at the town centre as well as contributing to the development of Nakuru as the county gears to attain City status,” Thabanja added.
He said the devolved unit was constructing similar markets in other Sub-Counties to boost earnings of rural populations by minimising exploitation by brokers.
Thabanja observed that the new Sh10 million market at Subukia trading centre was already operational.
The market, which handles on average 40 tonnes of fresh vegetables, complements the Kabazi Market 8 kilometres away.
Subukia market is about 22 kilometres from Nyahururu Town in Laikipia County which is a major source of farm produce that is consumed in Subukia Sub-County.
The market started operation after more than a decade of wrangles, which had stalled the project.
The construction of the project, which was commissioned 12 years ago, had been affected by politics and constant change of contractors.
In 2008, the then coalition government under the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) mooted the idea to upgrade the market, a key economic lifeline of Subukia town and its environs.
Since it’s commissioning, the multi-million rehabilitation project has been dogged by endless controversies that led to its stalling. Its rehabilitation was meant to be a key achievement of former President Mwai Kibaki under the ESP.
The idea was to boost economic growth and lift the economy out of a serious recession that hit the country after the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
However, the project has taken almost a decade to be completed, longer than the multi-billion standard gauge railways from Mombasa to Nairobi which took only three years.
The County has also acquired land at the Gate House roundabout that was previously occupied by a private company and has plans to establish an ultra-modern PSV park.
By Jane Ngugi