- Nairobi currently has 42 markets, which are still not enough for traders, forcing hawkers to sell on the roadsides and streets.
- Other modern markets are planned for Karen, Mihang'o, Kahawa West and Riruta in the current financial year.
Public markets in Nairobi suffer from poor construction characterised by inadequate infrastructure, limited sanitation facilities and insufficient space for traders.
Many markets lack proper drainage systems, leading to unsanitary conditions especially during rainy seasons.
The cramped and disorganised layout contributes to congestion, making it challenging for both sellers and buyers to navigate.
Inadequate waste management further exacerbates hygiene issues.
These poorly constructed markets not only hinder the growth of local businesses but also pose health and safety risks for the community, necessitating urgent attention and infrastructural improvements to enhance the overall market environment in the city.
However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Last week, the Nairobi government broke the ground for the first improved market among 20 to be constructed before 2027.
The Sh244 million Mutuini market in Dagoretti South is the first one under the administration of Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.
“The market will serve the people of Mutuini and the residents around Dagoretti and it will put an end to the residents’ grievances, which have been going on for the past four years under the previous regime,” he said.
Nairobi currently has 42 markets, which are still not enough for traders, forcing hawkers to sell on the roadsides and streets within the Central Business District.
To address the shortage, chief officer for Trade, Markets and Cooperatives Godfrey Akumali in an interview with the Star outlined the planned changes to give dignity to traders in city markets.
He revealed that the designs of the markets are modern, to eliminate certain challenges like fires.
"Our new markets are designed to have space that can accommodate both stalls and informal traders who sell where there is space allocated," Akumali said.
The adequate space will eliminate shanties that still exist in most markets.
The new designs will reduce market fires as there will be no illegal connection of electricity.
Illegal connection of power is among the causes of market fires that often raze trading spaces in the capital, with Gikomba and Toi markets being the most prone.
"Electricity will properly and legally be connected to these markets by professionals, thus eliminating chances of own wiring of power," Akumali.
The chief officer told the Star that concrete and other modern materials will be used for construction.
Akumali explained that most markets that are always affected by fires and evictions are usually built with wood and iron sheets that can be easily demolished and can catch fire fast.
"The designs are properly drawn and some of these issues will be completely eliminated because there will be order and proper structures in markets thus reducing challenges, " Akumali said.
The chief officer said land disputes won't be an issue with the markets as the county owns the land on which they will be built on.
Some markets in the city had faced land ownership challenges resulting in disruption of operations or even setting up of fires.
An example is Toi market, which has also been prone to market fires with the latest being in July last year.
"Toi market has been facing land contestation, which resulted to the market fires. But as the county government, we are addressing the issue," Akumali said.
The official revealed that the land had been grabbed and the Department of Lands is in the process of reclaiming it.
All markets will have a perimeter wall to secure them.
The walls will not only prevent land grabbers but also provide security for the traders.
The planned markets will be strategically located to serve the needs of both traders and consumers.
The roads leading to the markets will be rehabilitated to ensure easy access.
"All roads leading to these markets will be worked on and ensure that all stakeholders can easily leave and enter the market, with parking spaces being provided," Akumali said.
The chief officer said the drainages in the markets will be efficient, with proper piping to clear wastewater.
Skips will be placed in the markets where waste will be collected for disposal.
In December, the government added a fleet of 10 loaders to boost garbage collection Each loader has five skips, bringing the total to 50.
The skips will mainly be stationed across markets and high garbage points in the county.
Mutuini market project is fully funded by the county government.
However, others will be constructed in collaboration with the national government.
“The market will host 500 traders and will be both a wholesale and retail market,” Akmuali said.
The market located in Dagoretti South is known to many as Dagoretti because of the abattoir.
“The reason they know it by the name is because of the abattoir, thus one of the key features we have identifying it as a key trading activity around the area will be a butchery,” he said.
The chief officer said the butchery will boost meat business, a common trade that dominates the area.
Dagoretti provides meat to the city and is among the biggest abattoirs in East and Central Africa.
Close to 6,000 people are employed in the facility and more than 400 cattle and 100 sheep and goats are slaughtered daily.
Mutuini market will have a cold storage for meat and other perishable items like tomatoes.
The Sh244 million project is expected to be completed within the next six months.
Other modern markets are planned for Karen, Mihang'o, Kahawa West and Riruta in the current financial year.