Bill proposes pop-up markets for hawkers

A hawker going about his business. A new bill proposes setting up temporary hawkers' markets in designated areas. [File, Standard]
A new bill at the county assembly seeks to introduce pop-up markets for hawkers at least twice a week in gazetted areas in the city.

This is supposed to reduce harassment of the traders by county askaris and police and also increase revenue.

The proposal comes in the wake of a crackdown to evict hawkers and other traders from the streets of the city. Mombasa and Eldoret have also carried out evictions.

The draft bill by nominated MCA Mbugua Kabiru also seeks to protect Masai markets, which are synonymous with Kenyan artefacts.

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“The county should be able to set up designated areas for specific goods, such as farmers' produce, can be set up preferably on Tuesdays from 5pm to around 10pm in areas to be identified,” stated Kabiru.

The MCA said that through the bill, trade zones would be identified and specific operation times communicated to avoid run-ins with the authorities.

This means different markets dealing with home appliances, electronics, farm produce, and art would be operational on different streets on different days.

Traders will also be licensed for easier identification and collection of revenue.

Additionally, specially crafted structures such as tents would be set up in the designated areas where the traders would operate, with the Aga Khan Walk parking grounds being a prime target.

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Mr Kabiru is also pushing for the introduction of a pop-up markets department in the executive wing of City Hall, whose obligation will be to regulate when and where the markets can operate.

Easy identification

“The markets would not be limited to farm produce or clothes but also art, electronics, home appliances, and other goods. They would adapt to a module similar to that used by the Masai markets, which only operate during weekends,” he added.

The bill, which is still at the formative stage, will also include penalties for those operating outside the designated zones.

Hawkers' issue

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While acknowledging that the hawkers' issue was a thorn in the flesh, Kabiru said the problem was here to stay irrespective of the regime.

He observed that chasing the traders from the city was an exercise in futility since they were attracted to bus terminuses and busy streets where buyers were easily reachable

Speaking to the media last week, Kabiru said the bill had been approval by the county speaker and had gone for drafting. 

Growing the economy

The Metropolitan established that the traders contribute approximately Sh3.6 trillion annually to the country’s economy.

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However, they face harassment, arbitrary arrests, and even extortion by county askaris who have instructions to keep the itinerant traders out of the central business district.

On average, hawkers pay Sh1,000 a day as a bribe the county officers’ to be allowed to operate.

For the past one week, the county has been cracking down on hawkers and boda boda operators following an upsurge in crime that has nearly paralysed operations in the capital.

hawkersharassmentdraft billcounty assembly