Hundreds of Gikomba traders counting losses after their stalls demolished overnight


Hundreds of Gikomba traders counting losses after their stalls demolished overnight
Bulldozer demolishes stalls at Gikomba Market on Tuesday, June 14, 2020. PHOTO| COURTESY

Hundreds of traders at Gikomba market are counting losses after their stalls were demolished overnight under police supervision.

Traders say the bulldozers arrived at midnight on Monday, destroying their structures and goods worth millions of shillings.

But there is more than meets the eye in the night demolitions, with these being, the second to be witnessed in less than a month not forgetting perennial night fires begging the question, who wants a piece of Gikomba?

In all this, is there a plot to slowly kill Kenya’s historic market?

70-year-old Teresia Njeri a trader of more than 15 years in this market is among those counting their losses as she picks the pieces of what remained of her banana stock, uncertain of what the future holds after this sudden displacement.

What remains unclear to the traders is why the demolition exercise is happening at night. The answers to their questions scanty and in between, the government insisting it gave them a notice on Sunday to vacate.

According to Kamukunji Deputy commissioner Moses Lilan, the demolitions are for a good cause, aimed at paving way for road construction and preventing further destruction in the event of a fire outbreak.

The second round of demolition exercise happening even before some traders can fully heal from the fire that broke out and gutted a section of the market on the 25th of June.

The subsequent demolition two days later, begging the question on what exactly is going on in the largest second-hand market in the country—are there cartels behind the misfortunes of Gikomba traders or could there be a plot to slowly kill the historical market?

During a visit to the scene after the fire outbreak, Interior PS Karanja Kibicho warned those behind the fires that the Gikomba market will not be privatised per their desires.

As the traders continue to salvage what remained following the demolition their cries are directed at the government to get them an alternative place for their business.

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Story By Ben Kirui
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