BOOMING ECONOMY

Bad politics to blame for delayed Sh400m Thika market, says Wamatangi

The Kiambu governor says infighting among leaders keen to take credit for the project is scaring away funders like the World Bank.

In Summary
  • On November 21, 2015, about 5,000 traders operating at Madaraka market suffered one of their worst setbacks after the facility was set on fire. 
  • Since then, traders have been operating in a derelict environment as their stalls are made of old worn-out timber with nylon-paper.
Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi.
BAD POLITICS: Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi.
Image: JOHN KAMAU
A view of Madaraka market in Thika.
CONGESTED: A view of Madaraka market in Thika.
Image: John Kamau

Confrontational politics pitting leaders are to blame for the delays in construction of Sh400 million Madaraka market in Makongeni estate, Kiambu governor said.

Kimani Wamatangi said that the market was earmarked to be upgraded to a modern facility about nine years ago but infighting among leaders, who were after credit for the project, scared away those who were funding the project.

Speaking while officially opening the newly rehabilitated bus park in Makongeni on Monday, the governor said that the market was among six major modern facilities that were earmarked to be built courtesy of the World Bank.

Other markets which have since been constructed are in Githurai, Ruiru, Juja, Kihara and Kikuyu.

Wamatangi, who was then chairperson of the Senate Transport and Infrastructure Committee, said that he actively lobbied for the projects and managed to have the market included in the programme.

 "I went with my committee to the US and met with the team that was funding the project and they told us that they were pulling out due to corruption and bad politics. I however pleaded with them to reinstate the funding for the sake of innocent traders who were suffering and they agreed," he said.

On November 21, 2015, about 5,000 traders operating at Madaraka market suffered one of their worst setbacks after the facility was set on fire leading to loss of property worth millions. 

Since then, traders have been operating in a derelict environment as their stalls are made of old worn-out timber with nylon-paper roofs, making it uninhabitable during both rainy and sunny seasons.

The governor, who was accompanied by a host of MPs, expressed his worries over the recent wave of political wars over construction of markets and especially within Thika subcounty involving MP Alice Ng'ang'a and local ward representatives.

He singled out the recent standoff over construction of Kiganjo market, in an event attended by MP Ng'ang'a (Thika), Gabriel Kagombe (Gatundu South), Elijah Njoroge (Gatundu North) and National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), that turned chaotic leading to several injuries and the death of a boda boda operator. 

"I realised that our people are missing such crucial projects due to bad politics and I decided I'll keep quiet for the sake of such developments. And for this reason, I announce that this market will be constructed so that our traders can have a decent place to operate from," Wamatangi said.

The plan to upgrade the market to a modern facility includes fencing, construction of drainage and lavatories, lighting, establishment of children-nursing rooms, pavements and good operating structures.

Traders welcomed the project, saying reconstruction was long overdue. 

Traders, Mary Wambui and James Nzuki, said construction of a modern market in the area will ensure all business people get space to sell their wares, hence boost the region’s economy.

“At the moment, the market is very congested and some traders have been forced to sell their goods on the roadsides. A new modern market will be a reprieve to many of us and will accommodate everybody,” Nzuki said.

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