By THE COAST NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENT
Hundreds of traders trooped back to Taita Taveta County markets in Wundanyi, Mwatate, Taveta and Voi sub counties after Governor Granton Samboja decided to open them after a five-month closure.
The markets were closed in March when Kenya declared its first case of coronavirus victim on March 13, 2020 that brought business at a standstill forcing many traders to face untold suffering and economic hardships.
Those depending on the sale of vegetables, cereals and other agricultural products were forced to seek for alternative businesses to survive with the majority depending on County relief food for livelihoods.
However, last week Governor Samboja directed the trade department to work with the administration and the public health officials so as to reopen the markets in the four sub counties.
On Tuesday (August 18, 2020) while opening the Taveta market, the Trade, Tourism, Industrialization and Co-operative Development executive Vumi Ringo said her department had put measures to avert possible spread of COVID-19.
“All the protocols must be strictly adhered to so as to sustain the running of the market as enforcement officers have been deployed to ensure that the rules are observed to the letter,” she added.
According to her the resumption of business in the markets will help stabilize small scale traders who had been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic.
The two-month tax waiver imposed by the County government last month, she said, would not only go a long way to boost trade but also to cushion their trades’ operations after the five-month break.
“The directive on levies and cess waiver is in line with county government’s commitment towards empowering farmers and small scale traders,” she added.
Traders and farmers engaged in agricultural produce in the County shall not be subjected to agricultural cess or market levies for a period of two months.
She pointed out that the directive is aimed at easing the economic burden placed on the shoulders of small-scale traders and farmers engaged in agricultural produce.
The waiver will apply in all the major markets in the four subcounties, trading centers, shopping centers and village centers.
A trader Japheth Kililo said the reopening of the markets had put to an end month of loss-making business to traders and livelihood miseries.
“Things have been tough since the markets were closed because we depended on them for our survivals,” the vegetable vendor said.
For them to remain in operation under the COVID 19 threat, Mr Kililo urged his fellow traders to corporate with the County and national government officials to ensure sanity prevails in the market management so as to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Edited by: Mwakera Mwajefa