The hawker menace in Nairobi is getting out of hand. It is now close to impossible to take a walk in the city because hawkers have literally taken over any available space within the Central Business District (CBD).
The streets are not safe because you can never know if all those posing as hawkers are genuine hawkers or not. On many occasions, crooks use the the confusion caused by hawkers to steal from people.
This state of affairs has left traders who own supermarkets, large scale shops and small kiosks hopeless. The hawkers come and occupy the space outside the entrances of their premises and sell the items sold in their shops.
This is bad because while the traders with premises pay levies, the hawkers don’t. Again, the hawkers occupy roads in the process endangering their lives and those of motorists. The good examples are the hawkers found in Ngara. Some of them have occupied any space within the Ngara Estate, even blocking entry to some homes. The result is that some of the home owners are scared and can’t live peacefully.
Some of the hawkers there have taken over the Ngara matatu stage and use the waiting spaces as open kitchens to cook food. Politics is over and what Governor Mike Sonko’s administration should do is to immediately throw out all hawkers, clean the city and renovate it so that we can use Nairobi as a tourist attraction as it is with other cities in the world. After all, the city bylaws are against hawking.
The crackdown should be extended to the matatu and bodaboda industries. The matatu crews have become a law unto themselves and block all streets, now allowing pedestrians or motorists to sue some of them.
The boda boda riders have also become a menace and as never observe any traffic rules. They drive on wrong sides of roads, knock down people and sometimes ferry lawbreakers keen to escape the long arm of the law.
Esipisu is a journalist based at Nairobi, working with Reuters Thomson Foundation.
Evicting hawkers from Nairobi CBD is not a solution. Short-term solutions affecting Kenyans in the informal trade can’t be the answer to the challenges we are facing.
We have over a half million people in the informal trade in Nairobi and if you put them out of business we are likely to witness the level of insecurity increasing.
The cation will also disenfranchise them and leave them with no source of income.
In short term we need to re-organise people in the informal trade by designating areas and times where those in the informal trade can earn a living .
In the long term we need to build markets on public private partnership (PPP) model which will create enabling environments for these traders. More strategically growing our industries will certainly absorb those looking for jobs. I hope that the new administration will move fast and create necessary infrastructure that is required to solve this problem.
Mr Kisia is a Former Nairobi Clerk