Business as usual as hawkers defy Sonko quit order

Mercy Njoki 29-years old, sells oranges and tangerine to pedestrians along Nairobi streets to earn a living (PHOTO DAVID GICHURU)
NAIROBI, KENYA: It was business as usual yesterday for hawkers in the city streets despite a relocation order by the county administration.

The order issued through a statement by Governor Mike Sonko last week designated backstreets and Tom Mboya Street as the traders' main area of operation.

But a spot check by Metropolitan, however, revealed that the traders had not adhered to the directive and were operating as far as Moi Avenue and even Kimathi Street.

“It takes time for changes to be effected, but before we move to the newly allocated spaces we still have families to feed. When the time comes we will move,” said Silvia Mwikali, a trader.

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Ms Mwikali, a second-hand clothes seller, said the county government had not yet cleaned the areas that they were supposed to occupy and that they would stay put until the new areas were cleaned.

Ken Baraka, another trader, took issue with lack of adequate space in the designated areas, saying they could not all fit. He explained that over 10,000 traders could not operate on one street and urged the county to hasten the building of the Eastleigh market so that they could move.

Customer security

Thairu Njoroge was concerned that customers could not make their way into the backstreets to purchase their goods for fear of their security. He cited the lack of street lights in the designated areas as a risk factor.

“Customers especially during the rush hour do not want to go to the back-alleys. I am sure most will not be comfortable going to the dingy backstreets just to get an item they can at times get at the supermarket,” lamented Njoroge.

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Governor Sonko had asked the hawkers not to display their wares in front of businesses before 2pm and to refrain from hawking on both sides of the road, as well as to ensure that paths are available for pedestrians.

Nairobi Governor Mike SonkoHawkers