, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Hawkers who flock to the ‘Green City in the Sun’ have always been seen as a genesis to myriad of its challenges be it insecurity, littering, noise and so forth.
But where do about 20,000 hawkers trying to earn an honest living go?
The Central Business District offers a ready market for their products from the thousands of the city residents working there and are not willing to trek all the way to various markets in the outskirts.
Capital FM sought to establish the real problem beyond the effects of hawking.
All those who were interviewed were willing to shift grounds if any is allocated by the County Government.
“We just need space,” they would say.
Their problems are deep rooted and can only be addressed if some past injustices are tackled according to the Street Vendors Association Chairman Kimani Waweru.
Waweru, who is also a human rights defender, says most public land that had been set aside for markets has either been sold to private developers or grabbed.
“This is an institutional failure since the hawkers who are trying to make a living are victims of corruption whose opportunities have been stolen. The authorities have to give justice to the victims,” he said. “Most of the land that had been earmarked for markets have been sold to well placed people in the society.”
According to him, such markets include the Eastleigh, Jogoo Road and Ngara markets.
“So many things can be done if the (County) Government is willing to reason and listen,” he said. “These are stolen opportunities, of which the same government have stolen, and they feel they are guilty and now they fear addressing the same.”
In the last four years, the organisation has documented 15 deaths, which were directly linked to county askaris brutality, and 44 serious injuries.
“This is not the true picture since we can reach out on all of them due to resources while some fear speaking out. They are already intimidated,” he said.
Many cases have been reported to police but he complains that “no action is taken against the perpetrators.”
He accuses the County Inspectorate Department of being involved in rampant corruption which has worsened the situation.
“This problem cannot be wished away since it is a time bomb which can explode any time,” he cautioned.
Already, hundreds of hawkers are set to flock the city following the grabbing of the Eastleigh Market.
The National Land Commission has since revoked its title deed and declared the two acres public and urged the County Government to reclaim it.
But a visit by Capital FM at the site revealed that nothing had been done, since it is still sealed off from the public and though there is no construction going on, the private developer’s construction materials remains there.