#Occupy Ong'wano Market
On February 9th 2018, Market Traders organised #OccupyOng'wanoMarket in Kisumu County and held an event to highlight the grabbing of the local market by a company.
During the #OccupyOng'wanoMarket event, the company claiming ownership of the land, Akyda Two Thousand Limited, turned 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 frustrating 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 and for years the market attracted locals from the surrounding community, who brought 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 started to build.
“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.
The traders confronted the church who claimed the land was sold to them by a local con councilor - he denied involvement in the matter. Before the traders could get to the bottom of this transaction, the land was sold again to a company. This company started to build on the land.
The journey to reclaim Ong’wano market gained momentum in 2015 when InformAction’s (IFAs) Kisumu Field Team organised the traders into a Community Action Team (CAT).The CAT has successfully petitioned both the County Assembly and the Land Task-force in Kisumu. The task force was 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 land. In court the investors listed the 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.” said Odhiambo.
Odhiambo 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.