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Traders win battle against rise in market rates

Fresh produce traders have successfully lobbied for a reduction of rates, bringing to an end a two-day stalemate at the Wakulima Market.

Deputy governor Jonathan Mueke on Tuesday said the office of the Governor had agreed to waive the rates outlined in Finance Act 2013 and instead rely on a list of proposed ones.

“We’ve spoken to your leaders and members of the County Assembly and we’ve agreed to suspend the rates in the Finance Act so that you may go on with your businesses. You will not pay the old rates, but those that have been agreed upon,” Mr Mueke said.

Negotiated rates

The negotiated rates will now be in force until June when the Assembly passes the Finance Bill 2014 which will include rates for the next financial year. 

Mr Mueke promised that the county would take their views into consideration during the drafting of the Bill.

The traders had earlier in the day camped outside County Hall for a second consecutive day, demanding to be addressed by Governor Evans Kidero regarding the rise in market levies proposed last January.

The traders, drawn from six county-run fresh produce markets said imposing new charges on them was ill-informed and would worsen their already high operating costs.

The new service fee demands that traders pay a daily fee of Sh50 to display produce up from Sh25 initially charged.

A trader carrying a sack of carrots will now part with Sh80 instead of Sh40 just to take the produce into the market.

Muthurwa carrot trader Mercy Nyambura said: “Remember we are also paying the boys carrying the merchandise for us Sh100 per bag for their services.” 

In January, the traders had staged protests opposing implementation of the new charges, compelling the county government to put the process on hold.

County executive member for Trade, Ms Anna Othoro met representatives of the traders at the time.

Dishonest officers

Ms Othoro promised to get rid of corruption at County Hall, blaming dishonest officers for collecting unreceipted levies.

And last Friday, county officers collecting levies demanded that the traders starts paying the new fees as stipulated in the County Laws of October 2013.

Pineapple seller Samuel Mbugua said: “We feel cheated since the county government promised us dialogue on the matter but to date they have been avoiding us.” 

The traders from Kibera, Muthurwa, Kangemi, Marikiti and Quarry Road markets demanded that the governor and not his junior officers at County Hall address them on the new charges.

Additional repoting by Lynet Igadwah