Dirty markets the bane of counties

Friday June 1 2018

A woman sells arrowroots in Kakamega.

A woman sells arrowroots at an open-air market in Kakamega. The county’s Sh120 million modern market, which was opened in 2013, is in bad shape, with a leaking roof and blocked overflowing manholes, making it inaccessible. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION \MEDIA GROUP 

By BENSON AMADALA  
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By DERICK LUVEGA
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Disused or unrepaired markets in the counties could be adding to the challenge of low revenues since traders keep away from the facilities, which are meant to boost business.

In Kakamega, leaking roofs and blocked sewers have turned the modern  market into a nightmare for traders.

The stench from the blocked  manholes is keeping away customers, thus taking a toll on revenue collection.

According to the Controller of Budget,  Kakamega’s revenue dropped  by 30.9 per cent in the first half of the 2017/18 financial year. The county raised Sh132 million, compared with Sh191.07 million for a similar period in the 2016/17 financial year.

The report does not indicate the reasons for this decline,   but the county executive for the Treasury, Mr Geoffrey Omulayi, said the prolonged electioneering period last year adversely affected business in the region.

ELECTION CAMPAIGNS

“Most of our markets were not operational because of issues related to last year’s election campaigns but we are back to the drawing board to address the shortcomings,” he said.

But the condition of the  markets is another problem. When the market was opened in 2013, it was considered one of the key projects that would boost revenue collection for the county government.

But in the last four years, infrastructure at the Sh120 million facility has crumbled, making it unattractive to both traders and residents who might want to shop there. 

Traders have complained of poor sanitation and the county government’s failure  to improve the conditions.

The heavy rains have only  made things worse, after the blocked manholes started spewing sewage, making the market inaccessible.

The chairman of the Kakamega County Traders Association, Mr Benard Oundo, said traders were incurring losses as a result.

RENOVATIONS

“The county government has carried out some renovations on the leaking roofs but most of the infrastructure is in poor condition, making it difficult for traders to operate smoothly,” said Mr Oundo.

Maintenance of the facility has been erratic.

“We have complained to the county government to fix the blocked sewers and manholes but we have been asked to wait for money to be released before complete repairs can be done,” said Mr Oundo.

In the last three months, traders have threatened to stop paying levies if their grievances are not addressed, but little seems to have been done to make things better.

The situation is no different  in Vihiga, where rehabilitation of major markets is yet to begin, even as the financial year draws to an end, despite a Sh135.1 million budgetary allocation for repairing them.

For instance, work on the stalled Luanda market – the county’s main revenue earner – is yet to start despite a Sh10 million allocation.

MUDETE MARKET

Mudete Market was built by the National Government at a cost of Sh250 million and handed over to the county government late last year. But it continues to suffer power supply cuts due to a Sh50,000  bill. This has affected water supply, leading to poor sanitation.

Besides,  plans to erect mast floodlights at the markets in Mbale, Majengo, Gambogi, Luanda, Chavakali, Cheptulu, Serem and Shamakhokho have yet to be effected. The estimated cost of each floodlight was Sh5 million.

 On Thursday, Trade Executive Geoffrey Vukaya said the county government had mapped all the businesses in the county.

He said this will help track the status of every market and classify businesses, as well as improve revenue collection.