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Hawkers: Plot hatched to kick us out of Thika CBD

 Kiambu MPs Mburu Kahangara, Kimani Ichungwa and Kigo Njenga join traders in Kikuyu sub-county in protest over new county levies. A row has erupted between hawkers and large business owners on proposals to remove some traders from CBDs. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Kiambu, Kenya: A row is brewing between hawkers and large business owners in Thika over contentious clauses contained in a memorandum recently presented to the county government.

During a demonstration two weeks ago, the traders who were protesting high levies, presented a memorandum containing their grievances to the country administration.

The document, which was handed over in the presence of MPs Alice Ng'ang'a (Thika), Kimani Ichungw'a (Kikuyu) and Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town) has now caused a fallout bewteen the traders after it emerged that it contained some contentious clauses.

The memorandum, seen by The Standard contained radical proposals the traders say is aimed at making the business environment in the town more conducive.

But low-end traders are irked by a proposal that Tuk tuks, boda boda riders, hawkers, shoe-shiners among others, be removed from the Central Business District (CBD) to ease traffic and reduce congestion, which have been the biggest challenge in Thika town.

"The town has grown and there is a serious competition between hawkers and established businesses. A place should be set aside for the hawkers to sell their merchandise, but only in the evenings, away from the streets and CBD," reads part of the memorandum.

RADICAL PROPOSALS

The memorandum also proposes the relocation of Thika stadium to another site, either at Kiganjo or wabeni area. Where the current stadium stands, and a modern parking be constructed with underground basements, capable of accommodating 1,000 vehicles.

The traders also proposed the leasing of Thika prison land to the county government, which would then be turned into a terminus for the growing numbers of matatus, taxis and Tuk tuks.

"There has been an increase of vehicles, motorbikes and Boda bodas, making it  harder to share the available roads and walkways. Thika town management should be bold enough to make radical decisions on how to contain this growth in the next few years," says the memorandum.

The proposals have rattled small traders who have now vowed to stay put.

"The association leadership is not after the lowering of levies but only after having us removed from the town centre for their own personal benefit," said Francis Mbugua, a Tuk tuk operator.

The traders disowned the memorandum and accused a section of businessmen of hatching a plan to kick them out of the CBD in disguise of fighting the high levies.

"There is no way we would have been part and parcel of a memorandum that will kick us out of business. We call on the county government to reject it," said Jane Wairimu, a hawker.

The Secretary General of Thika Business District Alfred Wanyoike also disowned the document saying it is not the one they handed over to the county government.

He alleged that the county government had edited the original document and added the contentious clauses.

County Administration Chief Officer Dominic Gicheru said they would not implement some of the contentious clauses since they are punitive.

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