Dozens of buildings have been demolished in Keroka as Nyamira County government moves to repossess grabbed public land.
The land was set aside for the construction of a market in the town. The demolitions have been ongoing for a week has left traders and residents counting heavy losses.
Those affected had developments on a road reserve leading to the market. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is undertaking the demolitions as it also seeks to upgrade the Sotik-Kisii road.
The rehabilitation of the busy road is part of works being done as Kisii County prepares to host the Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.
Those who have encroached on the market land have also been affected. A statement by Governor John Nyagarama ordered the opening of several backstreets within Keroka town and reclaiming of a site for a market. The governor also ordered the resettling of traders whose shops have been affected.
“I also direct that my county government officials secure boundaries within Keroka town,” read the statement.
Keroka is shared by Kisii and Nyamira counties. At the advent of devolution in 2013, the two county governments scrambled for the town.
But concerted efforts by elders and various leaders from the region brought to an end the border row with a road boundary put in place to separate the two devolved units.
Nyamira County Roads Executive John Omanwa is coordinating the demolitions.
The new market is expected to accommodate over 2,000 traders. The demolitions have been projected to take two weeks.
Mr Evans Mokua, one of the affected traders said they were served with eviction notices in the last minute.
“They served us with eviction notice and then descended here with heavy machinery that brought down our businesses. We are now fighting many battles besides the coronavirus threat. We have no money to sustain our livelihoods and no homes. We are now beggars in our own land,” said Mr Mokua.
But county officials have maintained that the land belongs to the government and must be repossessed. They said the move is for the benefit of Nyamira residents who will eventually gain from the long-term growth.