For a long time, traders in market centres in Matungu, Kakamega County, relied on tin lamps and mobile phone torches as the only sources of light when darkness fell while serving their customers.
Now, up to 50 markets and shopping centres and schools are being installed with solar street lighting to beef security in the race for a 24-hour economy.
The lights, to be erected at Munami, Shiakula, Mirere, Lung'anyiro, Wananchi, among other markets, will help extend working hours in efforts to boost cash flow among small traders in the region.
The beneficiaries include mama mbogas, shopkeepers, butchers, salon and barbershop operators as well as boda boda riders, who faced insecurity in the dark.
The solar streetlights were donated by Hamptons Hospital, a healthcare provider under Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) in Butere, Kakamega.
Matungu MP Peter Nabulindo with some of his constituents received the Sh15 million lighting consignment from Hamptons Hospital at the MMTC facility on Monday.
“We are glad to work with Mwale Medical and Technology City. These solar lights will end darkness at our markets and it will allow a 24-hour economy,” Mr Nabulindo said.
Traders who would close businesses as early due to the darkness are now able to extend their working hours as late as midnight.
Julius Imonje, a barber at Mayoni market says he had been closing shop at 7.30 pm but is now able to work till 10 pm.
“I used to close my business at exactly half-past seven due to lack of proper lighting, attacks from stray dogs and the fear of walking in darkness going home. Since the installation of the solar street lights I can now extend my business working hours without worrying about my security or even power blackout,” he said.
He says is now able to serve customers who come from work late.
Ms Janerose Anyango, a vegetable seller at Munami market, says she registers minimal losses in her business because she sells up to late hours.
“I used to go home as early as 7 pm because of insecurity. A lot of my vegetables used to go to waste. The street lighting has greatly improved security in the area,” she said.
The solar lights, with rechargeable batteries, usually charge during the day and automatically switch on as the sun sets. They turn off at daybreak.
“We are targeting a 24-hour economy and the project is a move towards that direction, we want to drive away the darkness that has restricted business hours in our towns,” Mr Nabulindo said.
“The mama mbogas and boda boda operators will extend their business hours without worrying about their security,” he added.