NAIROBI, September 16 – Traders at Nairobi’s Maasai Market were violently dispersed by the police on Tuesday after they staged a protest march to City Hall.
The curio sellers were demanding an explanation for their eviction from the open-air facility along Slip Road where they had been based for years.
Carrying twigs and placards, the protestors first converged at the market then demonstrated along Moi Avenue through to Kenyatta Avenue junction where they were tear gassed by the police.
“Why are we being told to vacate from these grounds yet we have done business here for a long time. What are their intensions,” one of the traders yelled.
They accused the City Council of evicting them on ‘flimsy reasons’.
“We are dispersing them because they did not have a license to hold any demonstrations in town. Their protest is unlawful,” said Wilfred Mbithi, the head of Provincial Operation in Nairobi.
“The issue of when they should vacate the grounds is none of our business. Ours is to maintain the law. As long as they do not engage in street protests, we do not have a problem with them,” he said.
The traders had been given a notice to vacate the grounds by September 16, but they defied the notice and went ahead to display their curios.
The traders operate at the open-air mart on Tuesdays, but City Hall recently directed them to shift base to a plot adjacent to the Nairobi Law Courts which will be open on Sundays.