President Uhuru Kenyatta has rolled out a Sh2 billion facelift of city markets, targeting informal traders as he escalates the battle against Deputy President William Ruto.
The DP has fashioned himself as the saviour of small traders whom he has called hustlers, saying his administration will deliver economic redemption for them.
However, Uhuru has taken the battle for Kenyans at the bottom of the economic pyramid in Nairobi a notch higher by charming them with modern markets.
Uhuru’s think tanks have hinted that the multi-billion shilling projects dotting the city would be a game-changer in affording informal traders dignity and enhancing their fortunes.
Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga on Tuesday said the markets are targeted at ‘hustlers’.
Hinga alongside Uhuru’s technical assistant Mutahi Ngunyi led a host of government officials on a tour of the markets on Tuesday.
The PS said the hustlers have been forced for a long to endure unfriendly weather and an untidy environment.
Hinga said the state has constructed 59 markets from scratch across the country during the Jubilee administration.
Some 33 more have been given a facelift, he said.
He said “unlike some ambiguous slogans and economic models” by people he did not name, the Jubilee government was making tangible investments to the informal traders.
“You have to vote wisely on August 9 for leaders who have made impacts on your lives, not people peddling theories that make no sense. Your vote will make these projects continue,” Hinga said.
The team was assessing their (markets) level of completion and also collecting views from the traders on how best the markets will be utilised to enhance their business fortunes.
Anne Mutahi, who is the president’s advisor on medium and small enterprises, was part of the delegation.
Some of the markets include the City Park market along Limuru road, City market at the heart of Nairobi CBD and Gikomba.
The City Park market facelift cost Sh142 million, involving putting up a storey market and installation of security and sanitation facilities.
The market used to be a muddy open-air establishment without essential amenities and its improvement was started in 2014 by the county.
When the initiative failed, the facelift was taken over by the National government.
According to a brief by the Housing ministry, the new market will accommodate 1,300 traders.
It has modern facilities, including modest grocery stalls, digital money booths, cyber cafes, restaurants, beauty parlours, spacious parking and a car wash among others.
“The rehabilitation of the City market is part of the rehabilitation of the green spaces initiative by Uhuru,” he said.
The second phase is yet to be concluded.
For the City market, the facelift also involved improvement of the sewerage and drainage amenities, rehabilitation of the stalls, floor and perimeter wall.
The government also installed floodlights and other facilities that were lacking.
The Gikomba market improvement involved the construction of a six-floor-storey establishment that is already occupied.
The PS said the project was mooted in October 2017 when a fire razed the market which used to be an open-air establishment.
The project cost Sh490 million.
The second phase of the face-lift involving the construction of an eight storey market is at an advanced stage at a cost of Sh749 million. It is set to be ready for occupation in three months.
The rehabilitation of the informal markets was part of the drive to widen the revenue generated from the informal sector and improve the lives of the traders.
He said works have fostered public participation and that the views of the traders were sought to inform any improvement and designs implemented.
The traders highlighted their complaints to the PS that they want to be incorporated as the works get completed.