Kongowea market has become a significant hunting ground for two governor aspirants in Mombasa. Incumbent Hassan Joho and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti are battling for the 10,000-plus votes.
The two have been to the market severally to ‘check on the traders’ welfare’. Governor Joho has instructed acting Trade executive Tawfiq Balala to ensure traders’ issues are well taken care of after complaints of leaders interfering with the stall allocations.
Awiti has also been to the market and is already planning how to help install new lights.
The traders complained that they are forced to use their phone torches to find their way through the market when it opens at 3am daily. Both Joho and Awiti claim the Kongowea votes are what catapulted them to victory in the 2013 election.
At the time, the two were not in direct competition. However, the August 8 election is a different game altogether as they will be direct rivals fighting for the county’s top seat. On March 10, Joho said Kongowea, one of the largest open-air markets in East and Central Africa, is his political stronghold.
“I was elected Kisauni MP because of this market in 2007. In 2013, I won more votes than any other in the governor race here. I have faith in 2017, things will be like that,” he said.
“I walk freely here because I know I am at home. It was not the same some time back. It was hot here. The politics was hot. But people have been united now. And that is the responsibility of leadership. My responsibility is to unite people.”
Last Wednesday, Awiti said Kongowea is his stronghold. The market is a symbolic place for Awiti.
It was at the market that he launched his successful 2013 campaigns. He moved to the market a day after announcing his departure from Wiper, where he said he encountered ‘unnecessary hurdles’.