They argue that they pay high licence fees and other costs like water and electricity, unlike their small-scale rivals.
City traders have appealed to Governor Mike Sonko to reconsider his decision to allow hawkers to sell their goods in the central business district from 2pm. The traders said the decision would greatly affect their businesses as the hawkers sold similar goods at cheaper prices.
“We will organise ourselves as the business community and go to the governor’s office to oppose the plan,” said Elizabeth Kamau, a trader along Tom Mboya Street.
On the other hand, some of the hawkers are opposing the new rule requiring them to be voters registered in the city before they can be registered to operate their businesses.
When Metropolitan walked around the CBD at 11am, the pavements were already flooded with hawkers and their merchandise.
Those interviewed said they moved to Nairobi to earn a living and usually go back to their rural homes for the holidays and to vote.
James Kikavi said he was a voter registered in Machakos, who lived and worked in Nairobi. He expects to be registered as a hawker.
“The plans sounds like it is politically instigated if it involves voter registration. We want such moves (to help hawkers) to enhance the welfare of residents, not for some to gain politically,” he said.
Traders opposing the plan said the hawkers were blocking their window displays and causing congestion around the shop entrances. They also said the hawkers were grabbing customers making their way into the shops.
“We pay rent, which is higher than the shops inside the buildings because our displays face the road, yet we are the most affected. Apart from that, we also pay licence fees and other costs including water and electricity, unlike the hawkers,” said Duncan Wachira, an electronics shop owner.
The traders complained that the tough political period had seen businesses negatively affected, and allowing traders back on the streets would only worsen the situation.
“We will soon close down if this continues. The political atmosphere has stalled our businesses but worse is yet to come if the remaining few consumers are scared away,” said Elizabeth Kamau, another shop owner.
"I have already lost some of my customers who fear being mugged by thieves posing as customers buying from the hawkers."