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City market traders fight eviction order

Traders at the City Market are banking on its classification as a national monument to block eviction.

They fear that the planned move to pave way for renovation will change the market’s nature as a monument, says Meshack Mbuthia Macharia, chairman of City Market Stall Holders Association .

The market which was put up in the 1930s between Muindi-Mbingu and Koinange Street in the city centre was declared a National Monument by a Kenya Gazette Notice dated April 29, 2009.

Mr Mbuthia argues that the County Government has irregularly allowed Vineyard Holdings Limited, a private company, to develop land reserved for the market’s expansion intended to cater for increased number of traders and consumers of their goods.

“In the lease agreement, it was agreed and intended that Vineyard Holdings Limited takes control of the premises in exclusion of the traders and the general public for whose use and benefit the property was intended,” said Mr Mbuthia.

Vineyard Holdings Limited, they claim is seeking to construct a storey building and to achieve this, in coalition with the County government, has attempted to evict the traders from their stalls.

They have since paid rental and license charges to pave way for the demolitions.

He adds that in addition to unlawfully allocating a public property to a private entity, the traders were not offered alternative places to move to.

In addition, the traders blame the county government and the investor, for putting up unlawful structures at the market on spaces reserved for toilets, loading, offloading bays and fire exits. “This has congested the market and made it hazardous,” say Mr Mbuthia.

Nairobi County Acting Legal Affairs Director Karisa Iha, however, says that the county authority’s relationship with the traders is contractual – between a landlord and a tenant.

He adds that Vineyard Holdings Limited won the renovation tender of the City Market and traders were issued with notices to vacate with a promise they would be given the first priority to occupy the new stalls.

“The traders have not challenged the validity of the notices and we have no intentions to transfer the property into private hands or subdivide it for private development,” affirms Mr Iha.

The case will be mentioned on December 10, 2013.