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Thika Traders Decry Kiambu’s Punitive Rates That Are Now Stifling Their Businesses.

MC  Sam addressing the press during the Thika Business Trade Fair at Mama Ngina Gardens

Thika business community are up in arms with Kiambu County Government for introducing very ‘unfriendly’ rates in the proposed Kiambu County Finance Bill 2016-17, a move they say that if not checked, will render young entrepreneurs out of business and also discourage investment in the county.

C.E.O. Wide Horizon Promotions Mr. Sam Chege says that some of the proposal by the executive would eventually suffocate their businesses and render the county unbusinessworthy.

“One of our greatest concern about these proposals lies in advertisement rates that have been revised upwards to about 6 times their previous levels. How do you explain the rise in advertisement banner rates from sh. 5,600 to sh.30,700 per month. This has drastic negative impact on the business community. New businesses in town are the most hit as they cannot afford to announce their presence to the members of the public,” said Chege, who is popularly known as MC Sam.

He said that the Thika District Business Association (TDBA), the umbrella body that brought together Thika traders, was receiving numerous complaints from its members with such concerns.

“How do you tell the public that you have set up a new shop in town if the medium of communication has been limited to the affluent and the well-to-do in the market? We are asking the county government to at least reconsider scaling down these rates a bit, even say sh. 10,000,” he said.

He also lamented about the lack of parking spaces within the C.B.D. which was another factor that was sending away potential clients and possible investors to the town. He accused the county government of not being supportive to the business community as its presence was only felt while they harassed the traders for licences.

“The county government has not been very supportive. We would like to see more presence especially of their departments. They should demystify the notion that they are not competitors in business but rather partners. We would like to see the licensing desk for instance, in business gatherings such as the trade fairs,” he stressed.

In reference to the same, Alfred Wanyoike, the TDBA Secretary General added that as the business community working in Thika Town, they had detected various discrepancies in the Finance Bill especially concerning the rates that were charged as per the different zoning.

“There are very major discrepancies in the fees and licences especially between Zones A, B and C. Thika CBD being in Zone A, contributes about 50% of the county’s revenue. Though we are charged the highest, we never receive the same in returns from the county government,” said Wanyoike.

He proposed to the Kiambu Government to either reduce the range gap between the zones or give the town a proportional return in allocation of funds during their distribution of resources to the sub-counties.

The traders also pointed out an anomaly where Kiambu County Government was double-charging Conservancy Fee to its residents. It was noted that this fee was reflected in both business licences as well as in their water bills. 

There was also this complaint that water rates have been hiked, rising by 100% in some instances especially in the domestic consumption. This, Wanyoike said, was making water less affordable to majority of Thika residents and in another way, discouraging investors into this town.

The traders have warned that if at all their grievances were not put into consideration, they may be forced to employ other avenues to have the county government reconsider their decision.

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