By Ugas Ahmed Ugas:
Dear Mandera county government, I hope this will find you well and it is also my prayers that you will rescind your decision to evict the peasant mothers of Mandera Miraa Market.
While we know that the consumption of Miraa has both social and economic effect, this very market has indeed shaped the destiny of many Manderians, established almost 4 decades ago this market remains the undisputed bread basket of many peasant Manderians it’s through this market that they raised their children and educated them with some of those who were raised through this market currently making an impact in the society and these are the professionals of today.
The market has more than 570 traders mainly women who are either widows or single mothers and this market remains their prime source of livelihood. Unfortunately the traders’ cooperation with the previous local governments on paying taxes as well as public Heath compliance is unmatched with the current impasse with which the County government of Mandera is handling them. For the Three years since the Mandera county government has been in office, the administration has been issuing countless eviction orders with the last one being pasted on the notice boards on January 22, 2016.
We thought Devolution was a heaven sent prize for the peasant but Alas! on this end of Kenya it’s turning to be an anti-peasantry tool of economic destruction. Some years back while addressing Strathmore University business school on the opportunities available on devolution Senator Billow Kerrow was quoted saying devolution will help put Ugali on the table of the peasant. The good senator meant that fixing issues like water, roads, agriculture e.t.c will ease the burden on peasants and give them opportunities but in this case the Miraa traders who are continuously not getting value for the tax they pay are on the road to losing one of the factors of production at their disposal.
It is said the County is planning to turn the market into a modern parking zone for vehicles in the name of developing Mandera. On whose wish? But what is development? a development that will zoom out the peasants from where they make their daily bread is doomed to fail. Any development that is threat to the living conditions of the peasant is not a development and of course it’s a common knowledge that public interest comes first.
The writer is a social justice activist.