Kisumu County has vowed to dismantle cartels who are illegally occupying Kibuye market and resisting attempts to modernise the oldest and most popular open-air market in East and Central Africa.
This comes after the devolved unit announced that they will advertise tenders for the construction of the market at a cost of Sh500 million.
City manager Doris Ombara said over 300 permanent residents have illegally settled in the 13.6 acres of land and are resisting attempts to refurbish the market.
“These people abandoned their homes and villages to come and stay in the market,” Ms Ombara said, adding that several others have constructed iron-sheet stalls for which they are collecting rent.
She pointed out that some unscrupulous individuals have also invaded 1.5 acres of land and running illegitimate businesses like brothels and chang’aa dens.
The county government has already relocated over 3,000 traders from the open-air market and put up a chain link fence and beacons to demarcate the facility.
She revealed that the county has already received Sh197 million funding from the French Development Agency (AFD) under Kisumu Urban Project, part of which has been used for fencing and drawing the design of the market.
“We used Sh49 million to do a comprehensive design which encompassed environmental and strategic impact assessment and a relocation action plan,” she said.
Another Sh35 million was used for fencing and mapping of the 12-acre piece of land which was one of the conditions set by the donor agencies before giving out the funds.
Ms Ombara stated that the city will start with the parking area where vehicles will be loading and offloading produce, and where customers will also park.
She also noted that the wholesale market will be considered in the first phase of the project since it was the most affected after traders were relocated.
The displaced traders are currently using the Moi Stadium parking lot to sell their wares.
“We are going to do sheds, pave the ground, do drainage, lighting and ablution block so that the sanitation is taken care of,” she said.
The city boss indicated that they have opted to construct a one-story building where traders dealing in furniture and second-hand clothes will be placed on first floor while cereal and other fresh produce sellers will be segmented on the ground floor.
“Experience of other facilities such as Muthurwa, Kongowea and Karatina markets have shown that traders don’t prefer operating upstairs,” Mrs Ombara said.
The market will give allays and routes for firefighting engines and trucks to go inside and five revenue collection booths to be placed in each gate.
“We are currently losing up to 90 per cent of our revenue due to cartels who have deeply entrenched themselves and resist any attempt to modernize the largest market in East Africa,” she said.
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