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South C traders lose businesses

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – Traders along Muhoho Avenue up to Mugoya estate in South C, Nairobi are counting losses after the City Council demolished their kiosks early on Tuesday morning.

The traders said that they had incurred losses worth hundreds of thousands of shillings following the demolition that was carried out by council askaris at dawn.

Those interviewed by Capital News accused the council of failing to issue them with notice before the demolition was carried out.

"We have in essence been sacked from our jobs. We have not been served," said Saida Mohamed an all-goods trader in the area.

"These people have not given us anywhere else to go. We will now go back to our villages to suffer. I had employed ten people here and now they have nowhere to earn their livelihood," she said.

"I used to get money to help myself and my family in this business and now it is all gone with the wind," Bernard Omondi, a clothes businessman stated.

"We have our licenses and they should have at least given us notice so that we may have prepared ourselves to salvage our goods." 

Others accused the City Council of destroying their businesses illegally yet they have been paying taxes to the council annually.

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"The government should look into our plight since we are suffering. It should consider our circumstances since we are poor and there is nowhere for us to go," stated Mildred Nyakio, a fruits dealer in one of the demolished stalls.

"The council demolished these structures in the middle of the night when there was no one. They should have done it in the morning or during the day time when we were here so that we take our things out," she said.

"The council granted us the license and they should not have done that if they knew that what we had done was illegal."

In the beginning of the year, Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia made an impromptu visit to residential estates in Eastlands and expressed shock over the state of the buildings.

Most of the residential and commercial buildings under construction in most parts of the city and 174 other municipalities countrywide had flouted the law.

He observed that some of the buildings not only sit on sewer lines, but also encourage the free flow of raw sewer in the lower end areas in Nairobi.

This necessitated him to order a crack down on all illegal buildings, both residential and commercial in a bid to bring sanity to the city.

Legally, the architects come up with building plans and forward them to the city council for approval before developers get on site. The local authority should then give private developers an occupation certificate showing a complete building is fit for habitation.

However, there are instances where building plans are approved but developers change them on site knowing City Hall inspectors are not vigilant.

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Consequently, majority of the buildings are structurally defective and pose great danger to residents.

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