By Flora Awinja
Kwale county government has constructed a state-of-the-art wholesale, fresh produce and retail market at Mvindeni in Msambweni sub-county.
It will be the largest after the Kongowea market in Mombasa county built at a cost of Sh46 million at its first phase.
The market will include a modern bus park, business stalls, stores, lavatories and a proper drainage system for better hygiene.
Once completed it will accommodate more than 2000 traders.
Traders from Ibiza, Ukunda showground and Calyspo are set to occupy the market by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
The traders are now being allocated spaces in the market.
They have lacked a proper market to operate from since 2018 after they were displaced along the Mombasa-Lungalunga highway by the Kenya National Highway Authority (KENHA).
The market is aimed at improving small-scale business trade and the region’s economy.
It is strategically located along the Mombasa-Lunga-Lunga highway, targeting daily commuters and the Kwale population.
The residents are optimistic that the new market will change the area’s economy.
A trader Japhet Njeru said business activities will boom and open up the area that has been lying dormant for years.
“The market will bring a lot of benefits including the growth of the town,” he said.
Njeru said the market provides a good working environment for traders who depend on small businesses for livelihood.
He said the facility is a game changer to the locals’ lives since it will promote international trade.
Catherine Robert said visitors from Tanzania and Nairobi will be making their way to the market for trade.
She said it will strengthen a good relationship and spark more business activities.
Robert said the market is a time bomb adding that within a few months, various businesses will arise.
Another trader, Mary Ayuma said the market has eased transport costs.
She said before traders had to walk for long distances to buy goods in Mombasa.
Ayuma said now the cost of operations will be very cheap since goods shall be brought to their doorsteps.
“There will be no need of going to Kongowea. Tanzania and Nairobi traders will be bringing commodities here,” she said.
The traders, however, are pleading with the county government to provide them with shades and tents to protect them from harsh weather and hasten the completion of the market for a conducive business environment.
Diani municipal manager Hamisi Mwandaro told Coast Times that the traders are free to occupy the market without being forced.
“Stalls will be done in the next phase as you can see construction is still going on,” he said.
Director of communications Nicky Gitonga said that the county government has not issued any notice until Govenor Fatuma Achani gives a way forward.
“Traders are free to occupy the market but nobody is forcing them for now until a direction is given from the Governor’s office,” he told Coast Times Digital.