, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Hundreds of Eastleigh traders displayed an image of desperation, resentment and pain as they marched to City Hall in protest against grabbing of their market.
The market has allegedly been sold to a private developer and construction is already ongoing.
Chants of “Kidero must go” rent the air as the hawkers tried to seek audience with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.
They threatened that if he fails to address their issues, “they will meet in 2017.”
The hawkers, who walked from Eastleigh to City Hall, complained that they risk losing their income if the development is not stopped.
“We do not want to be employed; we already have our own jobs. We just want the market back,” one of them said.
Another wondered why “they (private developer) only target the poor?”
According to the traders, the market is now property of a rich businessman who wants to construct a mall.
“Who will rent the mall? ” One of the traders posed before proceeding with the answer, “it’s only the rich. They don’t want us in Eastleigh…we know their plan.”
As they continued with the protest, Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko joined them and went on to issue a three-day ultimatum to the County Government to address their grievances, failure to which he will seek a court order stopping the ongoing construction.
Sonko urged the traders to stay put while assuring them that he will petition the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over the matter.
“I’m willing to work with the Governor but he must fight the corrupt people in his office,” Sonko said amid cheers.
He named other markets which have allegedly been grabbed but said they will soon be returned. “I shall not allow anyone to grab public land.”
Sonko who used the opportunity to highlight some of his recent achievements in the county, like advocating against the attack of hawkers by county askaris, was quick to distance his move from politics.
“I’m doing this as your Senator. When 2017 comes, we shall talk but for now we must deliver all the promises we made under the Jubilee manifesto.”
Six representatives accompanied the Senator to the Governor’s office, in a bid to seek a speedy solution over the matter.
The market has more than 2,000 traders according to Sonko.