Governor Paul Otuoma has denied claims that the ongoing reorganisation of towns is meant to undermine traders.
The governor said restructuring of mainly Busia and Malaba towns aims at ensuring the business is conducted in an orderly manner while guaranteeing traders’ safety.
Busia and Malaba are the county’s main towns raking in approximately Sh5 billion, each, yearly, for the national government in cross-border trade between Kenya and her landlocked neighbours.
There are, however, thousands of informal traders in the two towns supporting the county government in taxes.
The county in January embarked on an ambitious plan to reorganise Busia and Malaba, a development that led to the demolition of hundreds of structures particularly those located near the main roads.
The exercise attracted widespread condemnation with critics describing the order by Lands, Housing and Urban Development chief executive Peter Odima as a ‘painful and costly’ decision.
But Otuoma, speaking on June 20, while opening Soko Posta market in Busia town said although the demolition came with costs on traders, the bringing down of buildings will help improve working environments for the affected traders.
“It is our duty to make sure that our markets work, and our markets cannot work when we undermine,” the county chief said.
“We are going to support business. I know we are investing a lot of effort in trying to reorganise Busia town and there are those who feel that we are hurting them, yet that is not the case. What we are doing is giving you better ways to do your business.”
When the demolitions began in January, Odima said the county government had only one option; to knock down structures that he said were choking Busia towns.
“Every development venture has some pain component hence Busia county especially the urban areas must transform no matter the pain,” the CEC said.
“We must bring some order in the county.”
During Soko Posta’s opening, the governor ordered all residents in Busia town to buy particularly foodstuffs at the newly launched market.
There are efforts, the governor said, to modernise other assistant markets within the town in a move he said will ensure traders are confined in safe zones.
Soko Posta which cost Sh40 million to put up is an initiative of the county government, the national government, the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, TradeMark Africa and development partners.
“From today, we want everyone to shop from this market. We must promote business in Soko Posta because it is a safe zone,” Otuoma said.
The market that opened doors to women whose businesses were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic has clean running water, an ablution block, space for breastfeeding women and a parking yard.