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Muthurwa a failure, admits County Hall

Muthurwa market is a failed project, County Hall has admitted. Change of use by the traders is to blame, said County Executive in charge of Trade, Industrialisation, Co-operative Development and Tourism, Anna Othoro.

“Even when Muthurwa was handed over, it wasn’t in a state to be used fully as a retail market. It was supposed to be a hawker market where they would walk in, place their wares and sell. They have, however, turned it into a retail market with permanent structures which were not designed with it,” Othoro said.

When the market was being designed, its plan included a 24-hour market with basic facilities such as water, rest rooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multistorey stalls, a banking hall and administration offices.

Though its construction did not include all the plans, the Sh700 million market, opened in 2007 by the then president Mwai Kibaki, was hailed as a trendsetter by many.

Currently, Muthurwa is a crowded mess of matatus jostling for a place to park, dusty and muddy roads, burst sewers, pickpockets and lack of clean water for the hawkers, which  contribute to the chaos that has become synonymous with the market.

Othoro, however, says the county government has major plans to rehabilitate the trading centre as a retail market for its current use to become sustainable.

“Once the hawkers turned it into a retail market, we had to go back to the drawing board and I am pleased to say we have approached the World Bank to fund its rehabilitation. We are now at the design stage. Once the architects complete this, we will have a time line for the market’s rehabilitation,” she says.

Othoro admitted that the revenue County Hall was currently collecting from the market could not even meet its maintenance costs.

That is why, she said, the market is falling apart. “Whatever the traders pay to use this market is too minimal to ensure the basic market standards are met,” she said.

It cannot pay for its maintenance; leave alone its rehabilitation. We hope that in the next two years, the situation shall have changed,” she says.