The ministry of trade in Nakuru County is on the spot for taking too long to complete a hawkers market which was started almost three years ago.
The ground breaking for the construction of Nasher Square market was done in 2015 by the then Governor Kinuthia Mbugua and the construction was planned to take one year but up to now the already occupied market stands unfinished.
The idea of the construction of Nasher Market was arrived at as part of the County government’s plan of de-congesting the central business district which involved relocating small scale traders and hawkers who were initially operating within the central business district.
The initial estimated cost for the market was Ksh 80 million but the county government indicates that only ksh 45 million was used on the market which is uncompleted but occupied.
A reliable source in the county ministry of trade who requested anonymity said that the previous administration failed to effectively account for the amount of cash which was spent on the market agreeing that it might have cost more than what the records are showing.
“As you understand the project was started by the previous regime and the records we got when we assumed office indicated that only Kshs 45 million was used but the allocation was Kshs 80 million but it does not say where the balance of the money went to,” said the source.
“It is clear that some money was either misused or went missing because out of the Kshs 80 million only Kshs 45 million can be accounted for,” he added.
Nakuru County Executive in charge of trade Peter Ketyenya indicated that the county government was forced to expel the contractor and source for a new one after he abandoned the works despite being paid for works he had not done as well as doing shoddy works.
“When the new administration came in we decided that we needed to change the contractor because the one who had been given the work abandoned it despite having been paid and you look at the works he did they are way below the standards,” he said.
However on his part the contractor is accusing and blaming the county government for the delayed completion of the market saying that the county has been reluctant t release money for the works.
“I was forced to use my own money after the county delayed the release of funds and I had no otherwise than abandoning the project after my money got exhausted and as we speak the county government still owes me money,” Said the contractor.
The previous regime was on the spot during the tendering process of the market after it emerged that the tender was issued to a local member of parliament through a proxy something which as evident when the MP was seen fighting the county government when it tried to re-award the tender to a different contractor.
The county Government is yet to advertise for the new tender for the completion of the market.
The market had initially been planned to accommodate 800 hawkers but as at now at least 1500 traders are being housed in the incomplete market.
To add salt to injury the incomplete market has no basic amenities like toilets, water and electricity with traders being forced individually source for electricity and water for their stalls.
Some traders were forced to dig into their pockets to fund the completion of their individual stalls after it became clear that the county administration was reluctant at completing the market.
“The stall I own now was put up using my own money, what I got from the county as just space and that was all. I had to hire and pay my own contractor to put up my stall and that cost me money which the county cannot refund,” said James Maina, a trader at the market.
In this financial year the county government has allocated Ksh 8 million for the construction of modern toilets at the market.
Nakuru small scale traders association chairman Simon Nasieku said that traders and clients at the market have been finding it hard to operate due to the poor conditions at the market.
He however lauded the current administration for prioritizing the completion of the market which has taken too long.
“At least we can see some steps being taken to complete the works and with money to put up toilets having been allocated we are confident that the current county government will see the completion of this market because we have been losing customers due to the poor condition of the market.,” said Nasieku.
Nakuru County trade Chief Officer Edith Kimani said that the county government is in talks with the National housing cooperation to see if they will agree to help them complete the construction of the market
“We are holding talks with the housing cooperation and we are hopeful that they will agree to our request and help us complete this market,” said Ms Kimani.