By Flora Awinja
Faith Kavutha, a Mitumba trader in Diani, Kwale county is still counting losses following the demolition of her locally made business stall.
The demolitions were conducted last week by the Kwale county government as part of the efforts to reclaim the encroached road reserve and bring traders under one market at the newly constructed Diani market in Mvindeni.
The exercise affected traders operating in Ukunda and Ibiza along the Mombasa-Lunga-Lunga highway.
Kavutha was caught and aware and the events of the dreadful morning keep flashing back in her mind.
As usual, Kavutha would wake up early and rush to open her business but this time round, she was welcomed with scattered wood, iron sheets and specks of dust.
Her Kiosk was reduced to rubble. She barely recognized it.
“I was completely shocked seeing my kiosk destroyed. I didn’t know the demolition would take place,” said Kavutha as she battles tears.
The demolition took place within a nick of seconds but it would take time for Kavutha and hundred others to heal from their losses.
Since then Kavutha has been unable to fend for her family as the only place to run her business is destroyed.
“I just have to accept it as I do not have a choice but I don’t think I will recover soon,” she said.
Kavitha said it took her a lot of effort to put up the kiosk and all her life she has been depending on it to bring food to the table.
She still doesn’t believe it is gone and has to start fresh amid the financial constraints and high cost of living.
“Going to the Mvindeni market will be impossible because of transport expenses. Where will I get money to cater for my fare daily,” she said.
Kavutha is currently planning to take her business close to her home because of a lack of money to rent somewhere else or relocate to the new market.
However, her biggest fear is that she will never recover because all of her customers have disappeared.
In Ukunda town, it was a very busy place and Kavutha’s mitumba business was booming, now the kiosk remains a shadow of its former self.
Under the scorching sun, we find Janet Atieno and her colleagues who are involved in a collective fish-mongering business of Tilapia, Nile Perch and other freshwater fish.
She has a similar story to tell adding that she had no idea of the demolitions. She termed the demolitions as very unfair.
“I didn’t receive any notice to vacate but gladly I got wind of it from a friend,” she said.
To spare herself from emotional torture, Atieno decided to take down her kiosk. It is painful but it is better than seeing a bulldozer going through it.
At least she got time to bid farewell to the only place that had for years been putting food on the table.
“I received the information from a whistleblower that morning so, I hurriedly got to my business and did the demolishing myself. This saved me from the shock of arriving there only to find devastation,” she said.
Now Jane and her colleagues have gone back to square one as the business was supporting more than five people.
They are at the moment jobless and rents and other bills are staring at them.
As they rush to finish the remaining stock with no proper business area, losses are guaranteed.
However, Tourism and Trade Enterprise county executive Michael Mutua urged the traders to embrace county projects for their benefit.
He said that many traders from outside Kwale are requesting to be allocated space inside Diani Market while the locals are adamantly about putting up their business there.
” It is good for you Diani traders to take up spaces at the new market to avoid coming to us and complaining later when the market will be occupied because a lot of people are asking for spaces and this market is yours,” said Mutua when he met the traders.
He said the county government will not allow traders to do business in other areas apart from the new market
Msambweni MP Feisal Badar urged traders to overcome challenges facing and take up the challenge of embracing the new market just like their Mombasa counterpart operating in the Kongowea market.
“For Mombasa traders to have the Kongowea market they faced a lot of challenges and therefore we have to embrace changes,” he said.