Bill cushioning hawkers from harassment now in Senate

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria flanked by lawyer Edward Muriu addressing the press at a Nairobi hotel on progress of the hawkers bill he is drafting to help small scale traders and hawkers. [Photo by Wills Awandu/Standard]
Hawkers countrywide could soon be cushioned from harassment once a bill is passed into law.

The Hawkers and Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood) Bill 2018 envisions an end to the running battles between hawkers and the authorities.

The bill was received by the Senate on Tuesday and debate is expected to begin next week.

Under the bill, an authority tasked with the registration, regulation and monitoring of trade by hawkers and street vendors will be established.

Named the Hawkers and Street Vendors Authority, it will form a national bureau and maintain a national registry of hawkers and street vendors in Kenya.

This means that a comprehensive database of hawkers and street vendors countrywide will be maintained.

Active traders

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, the architect of the bill, said close to 90 per cent of active traders in the country were hawkers and it was time to decriminalise hawking.

“Hawkers as we speak are being treated as pests. The bill seeks to legitimise their business and restructure it all the way from the grassroots to the national level,” he said.

The authority will also monitor the workings of the County Vending committees in all counties that advise county governments on matters relating to hawking and street vending.

The authority will be run by a board of directors appointed by the Industrialisation Cabinet secretary, proposes the bill.

There will also be county tribunals to listen to appeals by hawkers and street vendors if they are aggrieved by county government decisions.

The bill also aims to end tussles concerning the payment of prescribed fees and charges by hawkers, and proposes that every county government in consultation with the County Vending Committee designate vending zones classified as restriction-free, restricted or no-vending zones.

Licensed hawker

Once the bill becomes law, a licensed hawker and street vendor will only be evicted or relocated after being given a 30-day notice.

Mr Iria said under the bill, hawkers will operate as co-operative societies and would also have representatives in trade unions and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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