The construction of a Sh367 million retail market in Karatina, Nyeri County, touted as East Africa’s largest, has stalled again.
Some 1,200 businesspeople, who have been waiting to be allocated stalls for the past eight years, said work stopped in December 2017.
The traders’ association vice chairman, Mr Maina Karuri, told Senator Ephraim Maina that the contractor stopped working without notice, throwing them into confusion.
“Construction started in 2010 and was to be completed in three years. Since then, we have been trading under the scorching sun in the open air market with poor drainage and shelter,” Mr Karuri told the senator during a crisis meeting on Sunday at the market.
The contractor’s representative, High Point Agencies, declined to speak or comment on why the construction stalled.
Senator Maina said the delay was an embarrassment.
“I am very sorry for the delayed completion... I will take personal commitment to push for the construction to be finished in the shortest time possible before heavy rains start,” the senator said.
He further directed the contractor to restore a plaque that was erected at the new market in honour of retired President Mwai Kibaki, who launched the project and laid the foundation stone on November 2010.
Before the construction stalled, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua had toured the facility alongside officials from the department of Housing and Development and assured the traders that the market would be completed by March, this year.
One of the officials, Mr Lawrence Mwangi, attributed the delay to inadequate funding and change of contractors.
The contract was first awarded to Uchumi International Ltd but was terminated and given to the current contractor.
Construction of the market, which was a project of the Economic Stimulus Programme, was relaunched in 2016 by then Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, Governor Nderitu Gachagua and Senator Mutahi Kagwe.
The project had stalled in 2012 before it was revived in 2016.