Joy and pain over Sakaja's city hawking ban

And it gets busier during the afternoons and evenings when the petty traders take over most streets in the Central Business District (CBD).

After a consultative meeting with inspectors manning the CBD and representatives of hawkers last week, Governor Sakaja directed that there will be no hawking on Moi Avenue and Tom Mboya streets.

He, however, allowed them to sell their wares from 4 pm to 10 pm on downtown streets such as Luthuli Avenue, River Road and Ronald Ngala.

He also waived parking fees during the weekends.

And speaking on Friday, Sakaja expressed joy that the ban on hawking was progressing well.

"I am very happy that as you have seen, the hawkers and traders are following what we agreed. The county government will see what to do for hawkers who are disabled," said Mr Sakaja.

The governor said the county government would continue to improve urban mobility to make it safe, healthy and orderly to walk and do business.

"We are increasing street and public lighting by putting up high masts," he said.

On organising hawkers, the governor said the petty traders would be confined to selling certain goods in specified streets so as not to compete with shops selling similar products. In addition, the hawkers will don uniforms, while using makeshift tables outfitted with umbrellas.

The county has given hawkers 90 days to gauge the efficacy of the new measures, before holding a review meeting.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja and Acting County Secretary Patrick Analo during a meeting with representatives of hawkers at City Hall on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. [Samson Wire. Standard].

A spot check by The Sunday Standard on Tom Mboya, Moi Avenue and Ronald Ngala streets revealed that there was general compliance.

City dwellers walked freely without interruption on the pavements, most of them commending the county government for the move.

"I am happy that I can walk freely without brushing shoulders with other pedestrians due to limited space... The city now looks pedestrian-friendly," said Mr John Warui, a city dweller.

He added: "What the governor should now do is work on ensuring order in the transport sector by coming up with measures to reduce vehicular traffic." Shop owners were equally ecstatic.

"We can now breathe a sigh of relief because the entrances were crowded and there was nothing we could do about it. These people were denying us customers yet we pay rent and licensing fees," said Ms Risper Gatwiri, a shop owner on Ronald Ngala Street.

Mr Daniel Mutinda, a salesman in one of the electronic shops on the same street, expected business to now pick up.

Entrances to Naivas and Quickmart supermarkets on Ronald Ngala and Mfangano streets were also free of hawkers. There was a slight standoff on Haile Selassie Avenue near Wakulima market as inspectorate officers clashed with hawkers who mostly sell fruits.

Yesterday, traders said the move will restore sanity. They complained that hawkers block their businesses yet they comply with City Hall regulations.

"We want to tell Governor Sakaja not to give in to pressure from Members of Parliament whose aim is to appease the electorate while we get affected,'' said Kevin Njoroge of Nyamakima Business Community.

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