Residents of Kisumu Central business district for a month now have witnessed the operations of Sany excavators, bulldozers as buildings and other temporary structures erected on Kenya Railways Corporation land within the city center were being brought down. This they do to progressively acquire the city status and open the lakefront for the operationalisation of the port.
The popular places that have already been demolished include Lwang’ni Beach eateries, Akamba Lane shops, Winmatt Business Centre, Lake Market and all the temporary establishments within the central business district.
Mixed reactions over this demolition exercise have since come up. For Hezron Otieno Mc’Obewa, the runners up in the 2017 gubernatorial seat for Kisumu county, said he is alive to the fact that “these operations have surely tested our trust and belief in the integrity of the system but my passion, commitment and conviction to work with other leaders to improve the lives of all residents of Kisumu remain alive and kicking.”
Adding that he is talks with the Kisumu county governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o over this matter to find a lasting solution. “As a business leader within Kisumu, I have actively engaged the county leadership and continue to do so with a view of finding along lasting solution to this perennial issue- which is a permanent, secure and guaranteed home for all traders. I am optimistic that my direct engagement and input with Prof Nyong’o and his team will bear fruit and lead to a positive outcome.”
He asked residents to remain calm as consultation continues, “I urge and plead for calm and patience from all of us as we navigate this difficult and trying time in the hope that we can crack it through consultation and sustained positive engagement with the authorities.” His statement read.
For Lilian Omolo, the idea to develop Kisumu is noble and “I believe it is for the growth of this town. But I have my reservations at the manner that it is done without relocating these business persons where to fend.”
This she explains that, “After Kicomi and Kenya breweries closed down years back, there was only the Asian community that offered employment to majority of natives. Luos were not tailored for business, we were pro secular jobs. I grew up when commercial business was left for those who didn’t perform well in academics by our parents preserve. But when we realised that job opportunities were not available, the current generation learnt to diverse in business . so far Kisumu has built an empire on business opportunities that should not just be taken lightly.”
“Some of these businesses brought down are pegged on loans and just bringing down the structures without alternative land allocated is inhuman but then I remember that the government at times eats its own people whereas a witch spares its own” Ms Omollo concluded.
For Irene Akish, there is no need for compensation “As long as one is operating in/on temporary zones such as road reserves and government property. I don’t think it’s up to the county government to compensate or relocate them.” Expounding that, “the only reason they are levied while occupying the temporary structures is to contribute to things like security, sanitation, disposal of waste, land rates (the bona fide owners will pay the rates, no?…).”
For Dan Arawo, “I’ve said this before. Kisumu was a mess. Someone had to come and uplift it. When doing that, some people had to be trampled on along the way. For a good thing to come, some must feel the bad side of it. But ultimately the end product is going to be appreciated by many if not all. Wacha kisumu ijengwe (Let Kisumu be built, developed)”.
“If there was a notice and those people knew they were operating on government property, then they only have themselves to blame.” Omollo Waudi