Urban Retail Market Transformationa a Case of Gikomba Market, Nairobi.

Abstract

 

This study is about urban retail market transformations. Market transformations are the changes that occur in all market spheres be it trading activities, the market built form, encroachmenst and social aspect of the people involved in a market. (Kinyanjui, 2009)Due to the high unemployment rates in these cities, many of these unemployed (and underemployed) residents have turned to the informal sector to earn an honest living. In most cases, it is the market that plays host to these informal activities.

Markets in the developing countries therefore often start as informal markets: places where people meet to exchange goods and services in a rather casual and unlicensed manner. Overtime, more and more people join the trade and these markets spontaneously transform into chaotic environments. And because the traders were left to their own devices, nobody controls the construction of market stalls; resulting in marketplaces with a weak typological definition where everything more or less looks the same. Increased traders on a limited space lead to transformations and horizontal expansion on non-designated areas (riparian way-leaves, junctions, road reserves and circulation routes.)

Consequently, the market image becomes distorted. Despite these (and many more) challenges, these markets defiantly continue to thrive. It is these challenges that necessitated the following study which intends to investigate and understand these transformations in large undiffer entiated surroundings such as the “informal” marketplace. This study is also interested in finding out the factors that influences these transformations. It also discusses the evolution of markets overtime and across different cultures.

Through literature review, it was established that urban informality, urban informal housing, human social behaviour and cycle of poverty as well as government policies influence market transformations. Through fieldwork analysis, it was established that the area lacks a distinct and coherent image and is therefore congested and almost impossible to navigate. This is as a result of the presence of a highly complex over-spill on pedestrian circulation network, an expansion and encroachment on Nairobi riverfront.

Due to this, it was realised that transformation encompassed all sections of the market.

All these collectively contribute to urban market transformations that impact negatively to the shopping experience and the environment. To mitigate this problem, the author proposes several strategies.

There needs to be a clear spatial articulation of stall design to prevent overspills into circulation spines and strict enforcement of existing zoning by-laws. Designating functional use of zoned off/perceived empty space to dissuade trader colonization .The whole Gikomba riverfront is recommended for re-development/re-organisation to easen the pressure on Nairobi River riverfront. It’s paramount to engage the urban designer and architects in developing solutions for the transforming m

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