Plans to end Nairobi’s hawkers’ menace and enhance the city’s infrastructure, including markets, are at an advanced stage, following the formulation of a bill by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Nairobi branch.
The chamber has already handed to Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko a memorandum of understanding (MoU) containing a bill that will address the acute shortage of space in Nairobi and pave the way for the construction of a modern retail market.
The (KNCCI) Nairobi Chapter’s MoU to the county boss contains the Markets and Infrastructure Bill which will open up building of retail markets to private investors if enacted.
The Bill which been okayed by the county boss now awaits county assembly approval.
KNCCI says the bill would guide the development of markets and infrastructure, where the private sector would provide capital on a build-and-operate model, adding that once the law is in place, the County Government and KNCCI will embark on the construction of a 20-storey market.
This retail market is meant to free up the streets and walkways in Nairobi’s Central Business District of hawkers. It will also accommodate the thousands of traders in Gikomba Market who have been losing millions in frequent infernos.
Initial estimates have put the total cost of the project at Sh19 billion.
The bill also aims to enforce set standards in construction and management of all retail markets across the city. KNCCI, Nairobi Chapter also proposed an amendment to the Trade Licencing Bill.
Attempts to decongest the city centre by building a retail market that can accommodate hawkers are not new.
In 2006 the then Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo commissioned the construction of Muthurwa, in an attempt to control hawking and traffic congestion in Nairobi.
But a decade later, the market has barely lived up to its expectations.
Instead of the envisioned 24-hour market complete with basic facilities like water, restrooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multi-storied stalls, a banking hall and an administration office, is chaos and rot.
This time, the county government has left the construction of retail market to private investors.
Initial projections are to have 20 markets that would be built under a public-private partnership, where individuals or companies can manage the facilities. The devolved unit has already demarcated parcels of land which includes the proposed main market near Kariobangi.
Through the KNCCI Nairobi County Chairperson Richard Ngatia, the business community said it had specific proposals to improve the working environment with traders.
It also seeks to create and amend legislation, policies and regulations to improve the business environment and establish and sustain a multi-stakeholder permanent dialogue mechanism among other issues.
“We want the policy reforms, which should be through creation or amendment of pro-business policies,” said Ngatia.
“Among the changes we have proposed are the; Development of Markets and Infrastructure Bill and Review and Amendment of the Trade Licencing Bill.”
The Nairobi KNCCI also proposed the establishment of a Public-Private-Partnership Unit to work with the devolved unit.
“We also want the establishment of a joint action forum for coordination and follow up of joint initiatives by county, national government and development partners,” said Ngatia.
KNCCI Chief Executive Nemaisa Kiereini said with the proposals would make Nairobi a 24-hour economy like Dubai where people do business freely.