Roadside traders put lives at risk as they seek to put bread on table

By: GEOFFREY RONO

A casual observer can easily tell that Rose Naliaka is an experienced businesswoman. With a smile on her face, she spares time to exchange pleasantries and jokes with her clients.

The fish vendor says she has been doing business on roadsides and at the Bomet bus stage for 15 years.

Vehicles are speeding past her market as the Nation interviews her, but she seems unperturbed. The location is risky as there is a possibility of being hit by speeding vehicles.

The woman, however, sees no danger in conducting her business on the side of the major highway. She is happy with the location as it enables her to reach more customers as opposed to operating in a closed market.

“What matters most is not how comfortable one is in doing business but how much he or she generates at the end of the day,” she says.

“Due to the heavy rains, a modern marketplace would be ideal for us,” says the fishmonger.

“However, we should also be allowed to cash in on travellers along the highway in order to boost our earnings,” she adds.

BOMET’S ROADSIDE MARKETS

Mr Michael Sang, another vendor at the roadside market, says: “We pay taxes to the county government and see no reason why we should continue to do so given the deplorable state of these markets.”

Bomet County is home to a number of roadside markets.

Traders conduct their businesses oblivious of the danger posed by vehicles on the busy roads.

Some of the open-air markets are found at Chebunyo, Ndanai, Chebole, Kapkwen, Bomet Town central business district, Silibwet, Kapkoros, Mogogosiek, Goitab-Silibwet, Youth Farmers, Kembu , Longisa and Mulot trading centres.

The region has no single covered market.

During market days, local traders make do with road reserves to sell their wares, risking their lives in the process.

The possibility of accidents caused by speeding motorists on the busy highway remains real.

Ms Naliaka, however, does not imagine a situation where a vehicle whose brakes has failed ploughing through the sea of humanity at the busy marketplace.

Seven people died and several others were injured when a lorry full of building posts hit traders during a market day at the shopping centre a month ago.

The tragedy has, however, failed to deter roadside traders from conducting their business since they are closer to their customers here.

Bomet has decent market stalls, including ones for fresh produce, spread across the five sub-counties. They were built by the national government under the Economic Stimulus Programme but none of them is yet ready for use.

Governor Isaac Ruto has on several occasions appealed to the national government to hand over the structures to his administration for completion to facilitate the relocation of the roadside traders.

To date, his appeals are yet to bear fruit.

According to Urban Planning Executive Patricia Lasoi, the county government has plans to complete the structures so that they can be used by the roadside traders.

Ms Lasoi said the county government had used Sh100 million in the construction of additional stalls at the Bomet and Sotik trading centres.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION