While taxes imposed on business people and traders in various markets and towns forms the main source of revenue for devolved units,the county government of Tharaka Nithi might be losing a substantial amount of revenue from traders in various markets who have vowed not to pay market levies until their places of work are made serene for operation.
In our quest to substantiate the allegations,we made a spot check at Gatunga market in Tharaka North sub county in the section of livestock where traders ascertained that they have gone for about 3 months now without paying market levies to county council officials over poor state of their market.
According to the market chairperson Mr.Silas Kimathi,they ganged up together and agreed as traders in the livestock market not to remit any amount of money to county council officers from a number of things that they are not comfortable with including the poor hygiene and lack of fencing of their market.
“In our market there are no washrooms that traders can use while in the market as the ones that have been existing have since collapsed and no one has bothered to replace them.Lack of fencing also has been a great challenge where our animals have severally gone missing since every point of the market is an exit and that is why we resolved not to pay levies to county until our pleas are heard,” Kimathi said.
The traders therefore said the situation of the market is posing health hazards to them especially a time when the cases of covid-19 are surging as the market has no single hand washing tank for the traders.
Situation in the cereals section of the same market is not different either.Although traders here pays levies still complained over poor hygiene of the market alleging that traders are forced to clean their own places as responsible people lies idle. Also they complained of the field being too small leading to congestion of the traders making it hard to adhere to covid-19 guidelines put by ministry of health.
Shelter in the market is another challenge.Traders turns to erecting structures for shelter during hot days which cannot with stand the rain forcing their businesses to end once the rain pours.
Speaking to News Flash 254 on the same,area MCA Mutegi Rugia said it is being disrespectful to Gatunga traders to be working in such horrible environment yet it is the leading market in terms of revenue generation in the entire Tharaka North sub county.
“Gatunga market generates an approximate of Sh 50,000-60,000 thousands per market day followed by Kathangacini market.I therefore fail to understand why the county government fails to improve the infrastructure of such a market and instead gives priority to markets generating Sh 7,000 per market day.This underrating Gatunga people ans i will stand with the traders until their complains are heard,” said the MCA.
Another market is Tumbura which traders says the market has turned into a bush where no one bothers with clearing the growing bush around despite the county council asking for market levies each market day.Traders here also revealed that due to missing county council toilets,they are forced to relieve themselves in the nearby Ngunga bushes which puts them at risk of contracting diseases resulting from such unhygienic conditions like cholera.
Our efforts to reach the sub county administrator M.s Gatwiri to get her comment on the same were futile as she was missing from her office and did not either get back to our calls.
This being a replica of situations in many markets in the county,the administration of the day has an uphill task to straighten operation of the markets for traders to feel appreciated and have value for their taxes.