Jua Kali Artisans stationed at the Kenya Industrial estate (KIE) in Kitale are decrying an alleged grabbing of 5 acres of the public land by a developer who has set up rental premises while limiting their workspace.
The group under the banner of the Kitale Jua Kali Welfare Association said the once large land which was set aside by the Government in 1989 has certainly shrunk to about 3 acres yet they are growing in numbers.
“We are concerned about the future of this project since we have been told by a trespasser to vacate to give room for setting up of more residential houses in place of workshops,” said Mr. Kelvin Onyango.
The artisans want government investigative agencies to swing in to action to get to the bottom of the matter before private interests hampers the initial agenda of uplifting those working in the informal sector.
“This land was meant for the JuaKali sector and not for residential purpose. We want the government to re-posses the grabbed portion to have it serve its intended goal of offering working space for Artisans,” said Hillary Atsenga.
They wondered why their various petitions to have the matter addressed has hit a snag, suspecting foul play in the matter that has seen most of their members carry their works on the roadside.
“All we want is justice. We have raised this matter for long but we have always been taken in circles by the relevant authorities. This is an affront on the government’s industrialization efforts,” said Mrs. Sella Nekesa.
They also called for fresh survey and demarcation of the parcel of land to display its original boundaries as one way of keeping off grabbers.
The Artisans include carpenters, mechanics, tailors and painters among others.
The Jua Kali welfare Association’s services are currently crippled owing to a court case challenging the legality of elections held last year.