CONGESTION, LACK OF HYGIENE

Baringo market traders stay put despite virus threat

Demand relief food, stipend if they are to stay indoor and feed families.

In Summary

• Ask the government to supply them first with relief food or monetary stipends so they can feed their families during the quarantine period.

• Refused to move, despite congestion and lack of sanitisers in open-air markets. 

Kabarnet town market traders sell their goods on Monday..
WE WON'T GO: Kabarnet town market traders sell their goods on Monday..
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

More than 1,000 market traders in Kabarnet and Marigat towns, Baringo county, have refused to obey the ban on public gatherings to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

We are not ready to clear off from here and lock ourselves at home because if we do so with our current poverty levels, then hunger will kill us, leave alone the coronavirus.
Trader Rebecca Kibiwott 

They demand the government to pay them stipends or give them relief food so they can feeed their families if they leave the market.

On Monday, the vendors were congested in the market and busy selling their horticulture and vegetables, tomatoes, onions, fruits, maize and beans. 

“We are not ready to clear off from here and lock ourselves at home because if we do so with our current poverty levels, then hunger will kill us, leave alone the coronavirus," trader Rebecca Kibiwott said.

She said they will only submit to the lockdown if the government provides alternatives for them to feed their families.

A woman waes her hands at Kabarnet town market, Baringo county, on Monday.
A woman waes her hands at Kabarnet town market, Baringo county, on Monday.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

She was backed by Gladys Cheboi, Mary Chepkwony, Sophia Kandie and Rose Amdany among others.

Cheboi said they understand the disease is so dangerous, “but it won’t make any difference if we go home and die of hunger”. 

"Failure to which then we are ready to die and perish here of coronavirus,” Kibiwott said.

They also cited congestion and lack of sanitisers in the market. "We just trade by the mercy of God," Amdany said. 

They said the majority of them have availed water in improvised plastic containers to serve their customers with the usual washing soaps before buying their goods. That is all we can afford,” she said.

They said even if they left their customers want to come and see and select vegetables for themselves

If an order has been issued, every person must obey but our people are so stubborn. This now calls for security officers to apply force.
Former Sacho MCA Zachariah Kipkut,

The market administrator was absent from his office but a security guard told the media that the vendors have been warned three times to vacate, “but they have totally proved stubborn," he added that he fears for his own life.

Elsewhere, business was going on as usual in Kabarnet market despite the county ordering closure of all open-air markets and hawking on March 17.

“I declare all markets, animal auctions, slaughterhouses and social joints like bars and gambling avenues closed immediately,"Governor Stanley Kiptis said.

On Monday, county government communications vehicles were moving arond Kabarnet, using megaphones to tell people to vacate and stay home unless they have pressing business in town.

However, second-hand clothes vendors and traders in remote markets such as Barwessa and Mogotio, Kipsaraman have already down, while Marigamarkets were operating.

“If an order has been issued, every person must obey but our people are so stubborn. This now calls for security officers to apply force,” former Sacho MCA Zachariah Kipkut, known as Ramacha said.

(Edited by V. Graham)