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Bill seeks to shield hawkers from city askaris

By Josphat Thiongo | December 11th 2019
Boda boda operator arrested by Nairobi county Askaris during a crackdown. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Hawkers in Nairobi will sell their wares in pop-up markets at least twice a week if a draft law before the Nairobi County Assembly is adopted.

The Nairobi City County Pop-up Markets and Street Vendors Bill, 2019, is proposing the introduction of pop-up markets for hawkers in areas to be gazetted in the city.

City authorities say that if passed, the law will protect the famous Maasai markets synonymous with Kenyan traditional artifacts and also a crucial tourist attraction destination.

It also seeks to cushion itinerant traders who are victims of extortion and harassment by county authorities and administration police.

First reading

The bill is currently in the first reading stage. Its sponsor, Mbugua Kabiru, said the county would designate specific areas for specific type of goods ranging from agricultural produce to clothes and even electronics.

“The zones will be identified and specific operation times communicated to the traders to avoid confrontations with the authorities. Different markets dealing with home appliances, electronics, farm produce, and art will be operational on different streets on different days,” he said.

Data from City Hall indicates that traders contribute approximately Sh3.6 trillion annually to the country’s economy.

To facilitate the traders and shield them from the sometimes harsh climatic conditions, specially built 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.

The bill is 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 operate.

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