CAN'T GO, WON'T GO

Food shortage fears as traders, Mombasa officials clash

Kongowea market traders say move to relocate them is a plot to grab spaces.

In Summary

• The county government has closed the wholesale section of the market and ordered the traders to move to Tononoka grounds — a temporary market.

• However, the traders, led by wholesale market chairman Biasha Hamisi and Kongowea MCA Mohamed Abrari, say they will not step into Tononoka grounds.

Kongowea MCA Mohammed Abrari addresses wholesale traders in the Market on Monday.
NOT MOVING: Kongowea MCA Mohammed Abrari addresses wholesale traders in the Market on Monday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Mombasa residents could suffer an acute food shortage following a stand-off between Kongowea market traders and the county government.

 

The county government has closed the wholesale section of the market and ordered the traders to move to Tononoka grounds — a temporary market.

This is part of the efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, according to the county government.

 

However, the traders, led by wholesale market chairman Biasha Hamisi and Kongowea MCA Mohamed Abrari, say they will not relocate to Tononoka grounds.

The two said the move has nothing to do with the coronavirus but is a plot to have them move out of the Kongowea market so their spaces are taken by the county.

The traders said they will not bring products to the market until the county reviews its stance.

“There are people eying the spaces that these traders take. They want to sell the spaces to the highest bidder. If the traders make a mistake of moving out of here, they will not come back,” Abrari said.

 

Hamisi said it does not make sense to remove wholesalers from the market and leave retailers and claim to be decongesting the market.

“Wholesalers are about 4,000 and retailers about 6,000. We are fewer than the retailers yet they are being allowed to stay as we are moved,” Hamisi said.

Abrari said the renovations in the market are illegal as the county assembly did not approve the works.

 

“First, there is no signage indicating who is funding the renovations and the duration they are expected to take. Let them show us the approval from the county assembly. We haven't approved any of this,” Abrari said.

Workers on a section of Kongowea market.
IN PROGRESS: Workers on a section of Kongowea market.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Before the move, the wholesalers had been told to relocate to allow for the renovation of the market.

County communications boss Mudathir Abdulkarim told the Star the renovations are meant to make the market more organised.

He said the county had designated areas where the traders can sell their products in the meantime.

“Some went to the cemetery, which is wrong,” Mudathir said.

Hamisi and Abrari said the Tononoka grounds cannot hold the over 4,000 traders.

“Kongowea market has a total of 80 toilets. Tononoka has none. Traders are told to use the two toilets at the Tononoka Social Hall. Is that practical? Two toilets for over 4,000 traders?” Abrari asked.

Hamisi said: “We have stopped our products from upcountry from coming to the market until the county sits down with us.”

Abrari said he will organise day-long sports activities in the Kongowea market.

“We will organise football matches, netball and volleyball matches and spend our days there,” the MCA said.

MCAs Charles Kitula (Frere Town), Athman Mwamwiri (Likoni), Mohamed Abrari (Kongowea) and Raphael Sumba (Junda) inspect the Tononoka temporary market.
INSPECTION: MCAs Charles Kitula (Frere Town), Athman Mwamwiri (Likoni), Mohamed Abrari (Kongowea) and Raphael Sumba (Junda) inspect the Tononoka temporary market.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Already, the county has installed lights, water tanks with taps and subdivided the Tononoka grounds into smaller sections in readiness for the traders.

The county said it will take drastic actions against the traders should they defy the county directives.

A senior official from the inspectorate department told the Star the traders are in for a surprise.

“We do not need such confrontation in such times of the coronavirus. We need full cooperation from them,” the official said.   

 

(edited by o. owino)