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Gikomba traders count losses after demolition of stalls

 Aftermath of a fire in Gikomba market on December 1, 2023. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Gikomba traders whose stalls were demolished by the government have expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the exercise is being carried out.

This came following the government directive to demolish structures on riparian land.

Traders who spoke to The Standard termed the demolitions inhumane and out of touch with the reality of the suffering Kenyans.

They said they have lost their livelihoods and will not be able to sustain their families.

"We feel betrayed and neglected by the same government that we elected to champion and protect the hustlers. This is painful, they told us about bottom-up and we believed. Personally, I have incurred a loss of over Sh500,000 worth of stock that was inside the stall," said Pauline Ngumbi who was unable to salvage items in the stall.

Traders at the Nairobi Handicraft, which was partly affected, said they were not given adequate notice before the demolition.

"We have a problem because our structures were demolished without adequate notice and we incurred huge losses. We appeal for the authorities to help us restore the lost livelihoods. We do not live here, it is just business," said Justus Mutuku, a committee member of the Nairobi Handicraft.

Sammy Kimuna, an artisan and a trader, wondered why the state demolished their business premises yet they had not encroached on riparian land.

"If they would have given us notice, we could have safely removed the stalls and our products. We have been planting trees along the river and we are away from the river reserve. Why then would the government abruptly destroy our businesses and ruin our lives?" Posed Kimuna.

Patricia Kamene, a person living with disability and a trader, said she had lost her livelihood of 13 years.

"We educate and feed our children as a result of the craft that we do here, it has been our source of livelihood. I am not the only one affected, all of our property was destroyed by the bulldozer," she lamented.

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