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Moses Kuria deletes tweet on China Square as owner closes shop indefinitely

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria on February 16, 2023, deleted a tweet he shared saying that he will aid the China Square owners to set up a manufacturing plant in Kenya.

The deleted tweet was posted hours after Lei Cheng, China Square owner announced he had indefinitely closed it citing public safety challenges.

Cheng announced the move after hours of escalating drama following deportation threats by Trade CS.

“As a supermarket, we are unable to handle the high volume of traffic, which has become a severe concern for the public safety of all our customers, we are arranging more security guards onsite,” China Square said in a statement.

While closing the supermarket the owner cited the inability to provide sufficient payment processing facilities, a situation it noted had resulted in long queues which had negatively impacted customer experience.

China Square has come under fire from local traders over claims of selling inexpensive imported items, hence driving them out of business.

But Cheng maintained that his business is legal and is centered on healthy competition. He added that his company strategy is approachable and appealing to many Kenyans who are struggling with the high cost of living.

“We have cooperated with all government directives for opening a business in Kenya and we are here to break the monopoly. The people who are fighting us feel threatened because Kenyans now know we exist and we are not exploiting them in pricing,” Cheng told Nation.

Earlier, the CS had said that President William Ruto’s government was keen to welcome Chinese nationals in the country as manufacturers other than traders.

“I will assist China Square Owner Mr Cheng to set up a manufacturing plant in Kenya and work on a distribution partnership with Gikomba, Nyamakima, Eastleigh, Kamukunji, Muthurwa and River Road Traders,” a tweet that the CS has since deleted.

The announcement comes after Kuria earlier said he had made an offer to Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina to buy out China Square’s lease at Unicity Mall on Thika Road, which is owned by the institution.

“I’ve today given an offer to Prof. Wainaina the VC Kenyatta Uni to buy out the lease for China Square, Unicity Mall & hand it over to the Gikomba, Nyamakima, Muthurwa and Eastleigh Traders Association,” Kuria said on Friday.

Kuria pointed out that Kenya welcomes Chinese investors as manufacturers rather than traders and blamed former Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, questioning why he issued work permits to Chinese traders.

The mega supermarket, which opened in January, has attracted a lot of clients, but some Kenyan traders have complained about how it is undercutting them.

The retail shop sells household items, clothes, electronics and other commodities available on the streets of Nairobi.

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