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New market charges to stay, says County Hall

The county government has defended the increase of charges at its fresh produce markets saying traders were aware of the move before implementation.

The government also said reversing the decision would take an amendment of the county laws that brought the charges into effect and not through a single individual’s intervention.

“The increment was through an Act of the County Assembly and it is only through an amendment that the fees can be revised,” said Ms Anna Othoro, the Nairobi County Executive Committee member for Trade, Industrialisation, Cooperative Development and Tourism.

Without receipts

Ms Othoro further said though the new rates were effected in October 2013, corrupt officials who have since been weeded out continued to apply the old charges without offering official receipts to traders based at the Toi, Wakulima, Kangemi, Marikiti and Quarry Road fresh pruduce markets.

“That is why the traders are now feeling the heat, “she said.

But the traders would have none of it and warned of a major crisis in which city consumers would be the biggest losers should the county government fail to amend the County Finance Act 2013, that created the new charges.

The new service fee by the county government demands that traders pay a daily fee of Sh50 to display merchandise up from Sh25 initially charged.

A trader carrying a sack of carrots on his/her back now parts with Sh80 instead of Sh40 just to bring the produce into the market.

On Monday, the traders armed with their merchandise and placards, held demonstrations outside City Hall chanting slogans and demanding to meet Governor Evans Kidero.

The traders drawn from six county-run fresh produce markets said the move was ill-intended and bound to worsen their already high operating costs.

Challenged

Margaret Kimani, an onion trader at Marikiti market, says the new service charges will surely destroy the business from which she draws her daily bread.

“Schools are opening and I depend on my onion trade to finance my children’s tuition fees,” said the mother of three who is physically challenged.

She says it was unfair that she should part with Sh90 to get her onions into the market, then another Sh50 to display it.

“Remember we are also paying the boys carrying the merchandise for us Sh100 for their services,” says Mercy Nyambura, a carrot trader at Muthurwa market.

“It makes no sense hiking the service fees yet sewer lines are broken, the market is rarely swept and there are frequent electricity blackouts which cripple trade at night,” said Nelson Githaiga, chairman Muthurwa Traders Association.

Mr Githaiga said the various market representatives had resolved that traders should default paying not only the old but also the new rates.

“We will paralyse operations of the county government until they tell us whether they are reversing the service rates we are agitating for,” he said.