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Rising from ashes: Toi Market traders rebuild their businesses after inferno [Video]

This is the story of Toi Market, where for the fourth time, flames have brought destruction.

Toi Market Inferno: Unveiling The Aftermath

Days after the recent inferno that turned traders’ dreams to ashes at Toi Market, Pulse Reporter Denis Mwangi visited the scene to talk to the affected traders and find out how they are rebuilding their businesses.

In the heart of Kibera, Africa's largest urban slum, this vibrant informal market served as a lifeline for many traders, providing a source of income, sustenance, and a vibrant tapestry of diverse goods.

Now, amidst the smouldering remains and charred memories, a tenacious spirit rises from the ashes, as these resilient traders rally together to rebuild their stalls, piece by piece, and reclaim their livelihoods.

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Others stand amidst the wreckage, taking stock of the situation, grappling with the enormity of the loss, and seeking solace in collective strength.

And then there are those who are hurrying to get food rations that have been provided by the government.

This is the story of Toi Market, where for the fourth time, flames have brought destruction.

Many don’t have the luxury of re-strategising their businesses and have to do whatever it takes to get back on track, because they have families to feed and take care of.

Jane Atieno, who lost her omena stock to the fire, has had to start from scratch with only one basin of the product; a donation from a friend. It is that one basin that she hopes will give her enough returns to buy food and spare a little to plough back into the business the next day.

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For Musenya Muema, a water vendor at Toi, the inferno consumed her tanks and the entire plumbing system. The water she had bought from Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company was also used to quench the hot tongues of the raging fire.

The hotels that her water business supported are also no more.

Christine Atieno a mitumba seller finds herself between a rock and a hard stone grappling with how to raise the money required to rebuild her business and losing her livelihood altogether.

I give the stall owner Sh2,500 every month to rent this structure and after the fire, the owner said they don’t have money to build a new structure. I will have to raise the money myself or else they will get another tenant who can afford to put up another stall,” she says.

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Christine will also have to incur the cost of restocking, because the fire erupted a day after she had bought two new bales, none which she got a chance to open.

Right now I need about Sh100,000 of which Sh20,000 will go towards rebuilding the structure.”

Many traders don’t have the capital, with some having taken loans that they are still servicing.

For Evans Nyabuto, who was running an electronics repair shop at Toi, the fire signalled the end of his five-year entrepreneurial spirit.

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After losing both his tools of trade and client equipment, Nyabuto regrets that he has nothing to show after five years.

According to many traders, the food rations are a sigh of relief before their businesses can provide for their families once more. However, the food is not enough to carry them through.

We are eating with our hearts heavy with grief because even if we get the rice, there is no cooking oil, and no work to put that energy to,” Muema said.

Her sentiments are echoed by hundreds of traders whose only hope is God as they pick up the broken pieces left by the inferno for the fourth time.

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