- Khayega trading centre in Kakamega County, formerly associated with bullfighting, is growing rapidly and attracting more investors, who are putting up modern buildings and setting up businesses.
- Sigalagala National Polytechnic, which is a 10-minute drive from Khayega, is also fuelling the vibrancy of the town because of its large number of students, who frequent the centre for their shopping and entertainment.
Khayega trading centre in Kakamega County, formerly associated with bullfighting, is growing rapidly and attracting more investors, who are putting up modern buildings and setting up businesses.
This has pushed up land prices in the centre, located 13km from Kakamega town on the busy Kakamega-Kisumu highway.
Five years ago, Khayega was a drab trading centre. It bubbled with activity as traders took up every available space to sell their wares.
The county government had no clear plan on how to accommodate the traders, who ended up scrambling for space next to the road, exposing themselves to the risk of being run over by speeding motorists.
The key features of the town that have stood the test of time include the Khayega post office, located a short distance from the historical chief’s camp.
Before the county government built a modern market at Khayega, motorists and residents had a hectic time navigating from one end to the other, due to congestion and the mushrooming of temporary kiosks in open spaces.
Insecurity involving criminal gangs targeting businesses and homes had scared away developers, but a police post has been set up at and patrols intensified.
Khayega, which evolved from a humble beginning as a chief’s camp in the colonial era, is rising from its slumber, becoming an attractive destination for developers.
The transformation started in 2016 when the county government built a modern market to accommodate traders who were operating in the open. Roads and other infrastructure were also improved.
There are about five modern structures that have been built at the market, transforming Khayega into a bustling peri-urban centre with modern facilities. Other buildings are under construction.
One of the new buildings was put up by tea farmers from Kakamega and Vihiga counties, and a private hospital now operates from the premises.
Khayega Primary School, whose classrooms and other buildings were condemned by public health officials, is getting a facelift after the Shinyalu National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) committee stepped in and allocated funds for modern classrooms.
A three-storey building is being built at the school because the available land is limited.
Apart from St Elizabeth and Mukumu Mission hospitals, at least three other private hospitals operate in Khayega.
Isukha South MCA Farouk Machanje attributed the rapid growth of Khayega to improved infrastructure.
“Developers are moving in to take advantage of the opportunities available at the market because of the growing population and the potential for businesses to grow, given the proximity of the trading centre to the busy highway,” Mr Machanje said.
Alive on Sundays
Khayega usually comes alive on Sundays as traders from different parts of the region and neighbouring counties bring their wares for sale.
It has more than 10 butcheries and people travel from far to come and sample the meat sold at the market.
The county’s plans to transform Kakamega into a city by 2030 have had a significant bearing on Khayega’s growth, making it one of the fastest-growing trading centres in the region.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya met officials of the Kakamega chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to brief them on the progress of the ongoing plans.
He said a special committee had been set up to monitor progress and ensure all requirements are met for Kakamega’s elevation to a city.
The infrastructural developments include tarmacking roads, installing security lights and beautifying the town.
Demand for land
In Khayega, the latest developments have pushed up demand for land as investors take advantage of the thriving business environment to relocate there.
Several Asian traders have moved to Khayega and set up businesses, including hardware shops and supermarkets.
Developers have put up several modern flats and residential estates next to Khayega, drawing traders, teachers and other professionals.
Sigalagala National Polytechnic, which is a 10-minute drive from Khayega, is also fuelling the vibrancy of the town because of its large number of students, who frequent the centre for their shopping and entertainment.
The bullfighting ground in Khayega remains dormant after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the popular sport that is usually a crowd puller in the region.