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Construction of Uhuru Business Complex faces uncertainty amid land ownership row

A site plan of the Uhuru Business Park Market Complex which is projected to host about a thousand traders once completed/Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing Urban Development

KISUMU, Kenya, Dec 4 – The construction of Uhuru Business Complex by the national government in Kisumu is facing resistance from Juakali artisans who have laid claim to a section of land earmarked for the hub.

The complex whose design is now out is meant to absorb all the traders who were affected by recent demolitions within the lakeside city to pave way for the modernization of the port.

Kisumu Centre Juakali Artisans Association Wednesday said their land had been included in the plan without their knowledge.

The association’s Treasurer David Odanga said the land was given to them by former President Daniel Moi as part of the pivotal role they were playing in employment creation.

“We were issued with allotment letter in 1994 and a lease the same year, January 1994,” he said.

He said the association owns the land as they always pay the necessary land rates to the county government of Kisumu.

Odanga said the association had conceptualized its own design as it planned to set up a structure to accommodate the rising number of juakali artisans with the association’s membership now standing at 37,000.

Addressing a press conference in Kisumu on Wednesday, juakali members accused the national and county governments of locking them out of the plan to construct the proposed market complex.

Kisumu Centre Juakali Artisans Association Treasurer David Odanga (pictured) said the land was given to them by former President Daniel Moi as part of the pivotal role they were playing in employment creation/CFM – Ojwang Joe

Odanga said the design for the industrial park is meant to take away the land that was given to them through a Presidential decree.

“Today we have seen the plan and we confirm that the plan does not suite juakali artisans, so therefore we refuse and dissociate ourselves from the plan,” he said.

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The members said there was no public participation conducted and the artisans will not allow their land to be taken away.

He said they will allow the National Government to help them built their design and not hiving off the 8.2 acres of their land to put up a modern market to house all traders in the city.

Odanga said the engagement they have had with the Regional Commissioner’s office and that of the Governor has bore no fruit and they will not entertain any development until they sit down and reach amicable solution.

Francis Otieno, a member of the Association says they have been working in fear for the last two months after a plan to put up a market was mooted.

Otieno said public participation is enshrined in the Constitution and it was wrong to include their land in the 23 acres of Railways Corporation land that will host the market.

“There is no way we will allow our land to be taken away without any consultations with us,” he said.

Jack Kopako, a juakali artisan said initially they were told the market was to be set up in an adjacent land where eviction of tenants had been done.

Kopako wondered why the idea has been shelved and now they are straining their eyes on land belonging to juakali artisans.

“This is a private property, there is no way that Railways Corporation can hand over this land to the County Government,” he said.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the construction of the market in the coming days.

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