Walking in Nairobi's Central Business District has become a major headache for city residents. One has to carefully guard their pockets and handbags from thieves while dodging hawkers' wares on pedestrian paths.
Estates in the capitals have not been spared the hawkers' menace either. Many residents are unhappy that their dwellings have been infiltrated by hawkers whose population is ever going up.
The Kenya Alliance of Residents Associations (KARA) chief executive Henry Ochieng yesterday said they had received many complaints from residents over the past one month over invasion of their space by hawkers.
Ochieng said they were trying to reach out to the Government to find a way forward on the matter.
He said Eastleigh, Buru Buru, Donholm and Ngara were some of the most affected estates in Nairobi.
"It is a major concern for residents of Nairobi. They are complaining and the county government needs to take action urgently," said Ochieng.
He added: "Eastleigh, Buru Buru and Doonholm are some of the densely populated estates. Yet, you still find hawkers selling their wares near homes. We are trying to engage the county government to ensure the issue is addressed as soon as possible.”
"We need a long-term plan, crafted out of consultations with all stakeholders. Only then will we be able to ease the suffering of those affected by activities of hawkers who have flooded estates and city streets."
City Hall has admitted that taking hawkers off the streets and residential estates is a near-impossible undertaking.
The Director of Operations at the City Inspectorate Department, Peter Mbaya, said removing hawkers from the CBD was giving them a headache.
However, he said they had managed to remove those who had set up shops in the CBD and are now dealing with those who move around selling their wares.
"We are doing our best but they are overwhelming us because they are many. However, at least we have ensured they don't sell the whole day," he said.
When The Standard visited Ngara, hawkers were all over the place. Some had occupied a part of the road seemingly oblivious of the dangers they were subjecting themselves to.
Some even hang clothes in the gate of Fountain Gate Church in Ngara making it hard to worshippers to access the church.
"We have not gone Ngara because we know if we do that, they will return to the CBD which will make the situation more chaotic. Our plan is to deal with those in the CBD first before moving to other areas," Mbaya said.
Mbaya said they were trying to control hawkers operating near residential areas. He said plans were afoot by the county government to demolish illegal kiosks.
He said Nairobi had about 15,000 hawkers out of which 3,000 were in the CBD.
The official said they would hire about 1,000 officers to help control hawkers in Nairobi.
Mbaya said most of their enforcement officers were old which was compromising their efforts. “The youngest officer we have is 52 years old. He can’t run the whole day,” said Mr Mbaya.