The Chief Public Health Officer at the Ministry of Public Health, Kepha Ombacho, ordered the move on Monday after the market famous for its meat failed to observe the expected hygienic standards.
He pointed out that the conditions there were deplorable and not fit for traders to sell food for human consumption.
“You have seen the sanitary conditions in the market… the waste water; the facilities in terms of the rooms and the traders need to be subjected to medical examinations because it is not proper for Kenyans to be running away from them,” he said.
“The toilets must also be clean and City Hall must continue to collect the garbage from this place. These are basic issues.”
He emphasised that the bustling market will only be re-opened after thorough cleaning has been done.
“If it is three days that you want (to clean the market), you cannot continue running the business as well as cleaning. So if you are telling me that from tomorrow you are not working and you are cleaning for the next three days, then you are talking my language,” he said.
Ombacho stated that cleaning should start on Tuesday and that their officers will be monitoring the exercise.
“The place must be cleaned to the standards that we are giving but you cannot be cleaning and at the same time sell food here,” he said.
The traders at the market are however blaming the City Council of Nairobi (CCN) for not doing its job properly in cleaning up the market.
Speaking following an inspection tour by health officials, the traders said they observed strict hygiene and that they handled meat there under clean conditions.
“Burma is clean according to us but you know that there has to be a lot of politics in the management of the market,” Benson Makau one of the traders said.
“The people who open up clogged sewage here are only three. That is why if you look outside there, the pile there normally looks as if it is never collected but we as individual traders ensure that our stalls are spick and span,” stated Andrew Kariuki.
“When the notice came, we thought that there was something fishy. A notice is not an order. These people came with a letter that they have closed the market. Is that how we normally operate?”
City Hall’s Chief Public Health Officer David Ngugi however differed with them saying they had a responsibility of ensuring a clean working environment.
“The responsibility of cleaning up this area lies with both the landlord and the tenant. If we begin the blame game, then we will go nowhere. You as businessmen, you have seen that indeed there needs to be changes to be made. Let us focus on this so that we can make the market a better place,” he said.