Circumstances leading to closure of Eldoret’s Champions Market
At first, it seemed like a normal altercation between, the county askaris and hawkers. One that happens from time to time. Nov 17th 2022, however, was not business as usual. The clash between Uasin Gishu County enforcement askaris and hawkers culminated in running battles in which police officers were involved.
Evidenced by videos shared on social media, what started as an altercation quickly ignited chaos resulting in a looting spree. Hawkers are said to have been operating inside the market as opposed to their designated areas . Street families teamed up with the hawkers against the county enforcement officers who had now involved police officers.
Not knowing the magnitude of this, November 18th saw the indefinite closure notice of the Eldoret champions market. The move, which was announced by the deputy governor Eng. John Barorot was to enable them ‘sanitize’ business operations within the market and its surrounding areas.
The move as per the County’s deputy governor was to address the issue of insecurity. Doubling down was the issue of street families disturbing motorists. Traders, therefore, were urged to move to the other markets in Eldoret such as Bahati, Kahoya, and Langas.
What started as a 7-days probation period slowly turned into weeks of closure. It was not until President Ruto chimed in on the issue, that the fate of the market traders became certain. Governor Chelilim sought his intervention on the matter during a Christmas thanksgiving service on the 26th of December 2022, at the Eldoret sports club, Uasin Gishu County.
Construction of Eldoret Modern market
The president in response vouched to send Lands and Public works Cabinet Secretary in pursuit of the idea. His intention is to build a bigger-modern market that would accommodate all the 4000 traders as opposed to the 900 slots that the market previously housed.
Less than a month on, the CS, accompanied by Housing Public Secretary Charles Hinga and Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii made his tour of the County. During his visit to the proposed site, CS Zachary Mwangi affirmed the government’s commitment to implementing the project in the shortest time possible. The government is set to construct KSh. 6 billion market in Eldoret.
Furthermore, a committee consisting of county and national government officials is to be formed to fast-track the project. Governor Chelilim added that the ultra-modern market will occupy 3.25 acres of the land. The one which was formerly occupied by both the champions market as well as sixty-four market. Chelilim said the new market will have two levels of underground parking and five stories that will host different businesses.
“We have had an issue with the old market due to frequent conflicts. The new market will accommodate all traders,” the governor said.
However, Land and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary Zachary Mwangi during his visit to Eldoret assured residents that the construction of the modern market would begin by early February, contrary to which, it hasn’t.
The Process towards the Modern Market
Rather, Uasin Gishu County residents just concluded on the public participation concerning the project on Friday, 17th Feb. The exercise, as publicized by the county took place between the 15th and the 17th of February 2023. Through this, views of the stakeholders concerned from the 6 sub-counties have been received and noted.
That said, a team comprising of the County Trade Chief Officer, Mr. Mengich; official from the Government’s ministry, Mr. Dan Wasilwa as well as other county officials, yesterday concluded the public participation meetings with one at the CBD held at the former Champions market.
In the sitting, every trader expressed their concern about the speed that the project should take; for them to continue fetching their livelihoods, Dan Wasilwa assured the residents of the utmost level of seriousness that the project has attracted. He urged them that funds have already been set aside and the project is ready to kick off.
“Having noted all your views, it will take about two weeks before the tender advertisement is published on the gazette. It will be followed by procurement, and then the president will launch it to mark the beginning of construction.”
Eldoret Champions market amenities/standards
The new facility will consist of five stories that will host the different types of businesses. The stories will also be supported by a lift and ramp to ease the movement of people as well as goods. This is in addition to the two levels of underground parking.
For purposes of value addition, it shall also be fitted with cold rooms and packaging facilities for the goods.
Ultra-modern, as demanded by the president, the market building will host some of the County offices. That is the departments of Trade, Finance, and Agriculture. Other than that would be an ICT center/Youth center for empowerment as well as Sacco offices for welfare groups within. In addition to this, an advanced CCTV system, a public address infrastructure, meeting rooms as well as Wi-fi access are guaranteed.
Together with these are amenities such as a daycare for little kids, a lactation room for mothers, a clinic, and also an ambulance on standby. Another thing is accommodation units towards promoting a 24-hour economy.
Other additional support services in the modern market for traders to be accommodated are hotels to be situated in the market building, power backup, bulk storage, prayer room, and Clear vehicle access from several points as well as loading zones for packing and unpacking.
Other amenities to be featured are enough water points to be supplied by the municipal water and supplemented by a borehole, a good waste management system as well a great air conditioning and generous reach by natural light.