By Andrew Walyaula
Locating Kajiado market would cost some time for a person visiting Kiajiado town for the first time because the market is surrounded by a host of buildings.
During none market days the place is calm, business men and women chatting their time away, some having a quick nap as they hopefully wait for the customers to show up.
My arrival at the market with a camera hanging on my neck attracts attention as everyone wants to know who I am. Some are asking if I could offer some loans as they move closer.
After a quick introduction everybody was scrambling to share their despair at the market place.
Margaret Munyu, a mother of five and a vibrant business person at the market reveals that business is in shambles as only a few customers show up. This creates a hurdle on how to pay their bills.
“There are only a handful of customers and this makes many of us who have school going children to dive in thoughts on how we shall raise and pay their school fees, rent, electricity, and food among other bills,” Munyu says.
She regretfully says that her children who have finished schooling are moving around seeking quick jobs, something that is not forth coming.
“They cannot do business here, just from my experience they will be wasting time. I prefer when they go to search for other jobs like at construction sites, albeit being unpredictable,” the mother of five says.
Another business Woman known as Nancy Munga seconds her saying, she opens the business daily because there is no otherwise.
“From morning until noon, I have only Ksh100 worth of sales,” Munga reveals adding that even during the market day on Wednesdays, nothing substantial comes up in terms of sales.
Farmers Selling on Both Wholesale and Retail Prizes
The sellers say they also face stiff competition from farmers who carry their products to the market and sell both on wholesale and retail prizes.
“It is difficult to compete with farmers when they are selling their products to our customers cheaply” the vibrant woman says.
According to them, the farmers take their products to the market in lories and sell their commodities on wholesale prize to both the traders and the retail customers yet it should not be so.
“This is devastating. The customers now know when to come to the market to get products at cheap prizes and we are now left with no one to sell our goods to” Munyu vehemently laments.
They said farmers are clever enough to reduce the prices to woo more customers to their side so as to finish their products faster. For instance, a two-kilogram bucket of potatoes, which should go for Ksh100, is sold at Ksh70.
“This leads us to overstaying with our goods for instance a crate of tomatoes is taking more than a week to be finished. These being perishables it becomes difficult to preserve them thus chances of being spoilt are very high,” a Mama mbonga sorrowfully says.
According to her it’s a slap in the face to have the farmers directly taking over their job in the market yet they have so many bills to foot form their sales.
Another woe is dumping of litter and overstayed rotting farm produce at the entrance of the market.
“It has become normal phenomenon to have garbage of overstayed products being dumped here.” She says pointing a garbage heap at the gate of the market.
The mother of five observes that apart from the dogs, sheep, goats and cows, there are children who come to pick the wastes for their meals.
“You see a smart parent paying a visit here, after she leaves, her child comes with a bag to collect the disposals like onions, tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes. That is a true reflection of how families are suffering,” Munyu notes.
The traders lamented about the stench from the garbage. They said they were at risks of contracting diseases because of the flies which pick germs land on their commodities being sold.
The traders are requesting the county government to regularly collect the garbage and maintain the required hygiene in the market.
“We also need water in the market” They said.
Migration of Maasai Community Adversely Affects their Business
Elija Mwangi, who sells cloths in the market, says the advent of Covid-19 has adversely affected their business.
“Business has been very tough here since coronavirus erupted and I’m always counting loses.” Mwangi says.
Despite approaching festive season, he does not have any hopes of making a kill.
“It will be difficult to get more customers like other festive seasons. People are now struggling to get money for food and paying school fees,” he observes.
According to him, children contribute a lot on the purchase of cloths during Christmas season. Unfortunately, they will be in school till later in the month of December.
It was also unveiled that the Maasai Community of pastoralist have an impact to the trade.
“If the Maasai are around, we sell a lot more than when they have migrated to Tanzania. Now you can see how their absence has hit us hardest,” the Mama Mboga says.