Occupy Kibos Ong'wano

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#Occupy Kinos Ong'wano

On February 9, Market Traders organised #OccupyOng'wanoMarket an event meant to highlight the grabbing of the local market by a company.

During the #OccupyOng'wanoMarket event, a company claiming ownership of the land, Akyda Two Thousand Limited, showed up with the Deputy OCS Kondele, Mr. Ekirapa and arrested the protesters. 

The question of ownership of the KIBOS/ONG’WANO Market has been a vexing one for the locals.. 

The market predates Kenya’s independence by 15 years and was started by Chief Matengo the colonial administrator in charge of the region. He set aside ten acres for a permanent market. For years the market drew locals from the surrounding community. They used to bring their wares from as far as the Rift Valley and Kisii. It has served several generations as a place to trade and work and has been an invaluable part of the local community.

Vincent Odhiambo, Chairman of the Traders Association at the Ong'wano Market said that the land had been acquired irregularly and the new owner had begun building on it. 

“We woke up one day to find the fence we had put up removed and the land had been sold to a local Bishop,” Odhiambo said.

When confronted by the traders the Church said that they had been sold the land by a councilor who in turn denied involvement in the matter. Even before the traders could get to the bottom of this transaction, the land was sold once again to a company. The company also began to erect buildings.

The journey to reclaim Ong’wano market gained momentum in 2015 when IFA’s Kisumu Field Team organised the traders in a Community Action Team to champion their needs. 

The group has successfully petitioned both the County Assembly and the Land Task-force in Kisumu appointed by the County Government in 2017 to investigate irregular allocation of public utility lands. 

The matter is currently in court after the developer of the land sought administrative orders confirming ownership of part of the market’s land. In the suit, the investors listed County Assembly of Kisumu as the respondent and six of the CAT members as interested parties.

“The market is ours and was left to us by our ancestors. The County government has promised to help us with the matter and the National Land Commission will nullify whatever claim anyone else has, Odhiambo says of the matter.

He remains optimistic about the future of the market. “We have challenges, there is no water, no toilets but we will not wait. We will be here and agitate for the council to bring us those amenities. In the meantime we have started collecting funds from the locals to build stalls.” 

The market serves more than 800 traders.