, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – Traders at the famous Mutindwa market on Nairobi’s Outering Road were counting losses on Thursday following a dawn operation that left most of their stalls flattened by bulldozers.
The stalls were demolished after traders who have been operating businesses within a distance of 100 meters from the nearby railway line were given 30-days notice to vacate the area but failed to do so, prompting the use of force.
Those interviewed by Capital News said they reported to work only to find their businesses destroyed.
“There were rumours since yesterday (Wednesday) that the market will be destroyed, but we ignored them because this is not the first time we were hearing of that,” Michael Mutisya, who operated two furniture stalls said.
“I wish I followed the advice I was given yesterday, I would not be crying now,” he added.
Beatrice Wanjiku, a second-hand clothes dealer told Capital News that she had incurred a loss of about Sh50,000 in Thursday morning’s destruction because a structure in which she stored her stock was flattened.
She said she has been selling second-hand clothes, mainly polo shirts, since 2005.
“This was my only source of living, I don’t know what I will do and where to go because my business is gone,” she said.
Ms Wanjiku was among hundreds of traders we found stranded with a few of the items they were able to salvage.
Some were busy loading them onto trucks, in readiness for transportation to their homes or other alternative business sites.
“I am just collecting whatever I can get, and I don’t even know where to take them,” Robert Mwala, a furniture dealer said.
Operators of light trucks and pick-ups for hire had booming business as they transported salvaged goods to various destinations.
“I am not complaining, the destruction has given us a lot of business; we have been parking our vehicles idle here for the whole day but since morning I have made more than five trips,” John Njenga, a pick-up driver said. “I have made money I could have made for one week.”
Officers at the Buru Buru police station said they only provided security to the team that was carrying out the operation which was planned and executed by officers from the Kenya Railways.
An official from the railways who was involved in the operation told Capital News that they wanted to destroy all the stalls in the area “were it not for a tyre burst in one of the bulldozers.”
“This is a countrywide operation targeting people living or doing businesses within a distance of 100 meters from the railway line,” he said.
He revealed that Kibera slum was the next in line where structures next to the railway would be demolished.