Embu is losing an average Sh200,000 daily in cess revenue as traders refuse to pay levies over failure to upgrade Kiritiri Market in Mbeere South sub-county.
The boycott entered its second week with traders crying foul over lack of key services.
They said funds to improve the market that serves about 100,000 people from Embu and the neighbouring Machakos were allocated two years ago, but no work had started.
Mavuria MCA Joseph Nyaga said the county assembly had allocated Sh4.7 million for the upgrade of the market during the 2013/14 financial year with an additional Sh5 million set aside for the completion of the project this financial year.
“The money was set aside but has been lying idle. The market has no water or shelter, it is not paved and toilets are not maintained, yet it’s the largest in the sub-county,” he said.
“As the chairman of the county assembly budget committee, it pains me to see this happening. It is immoral to pay levies to this government if they cannot deliver services. We cannot pay for services that are not being rendered.”
He said the county government collects at least Sh200,000 during market days and urged the county not ignore the facility.
At the weekend, market traders chased away police officers who had accompanied county askaris to forcefully collect gate fees.
According to Joyce Wainaina, a trader, the county government had promised to rehabilitate the market but failed to honour the pledge.
She expressed fears that, with the outbreak of cholera in many parts of the country, the market posed a health risk to residents.
“We had contributed Sh50 from each trader to connect water but the county government said they would pay for it. It has now been disconnected due to a Sh13,000 bill,” she said.
Mr Kenneth Ngari, a loader, said goods at the market go to waste due to poor sanitation.
But governor Martin Wambora said the county assembly was to blame for the state of the market because MCAs had refused to approve a supplementary budget that would have paved the way for implementation of the project.
He said the market upgrade would take less than two months to complete if money was released.