Car-free days won’t necessarily translate to business, hawkers argue

January 29, 2019 8:11 pm
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“I’m happy because we will sell our items without tension of someone running after us,” he said/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Hawkers have expressed mixed reactions following the announcement by the Ministry of Transport that it will give them a free hand to sell their wares during car-free days in Nairobi.

While some hawkers have welcomed the move to open up the city to them on Wednesday and Saturday, most of those who spoke to Capital FM News said this would deny them revenue due to a lower number of city residents on the streets.

Margret Njeri who has been hawking for the last 10 years on Moi Avenue said her customers are passengers who buy items as they board and alight from PSVs and barring vehicles during the two days will have a negative impact on her business.

“It’s good that we will be allowed to hawk freely but who will we sell to if those vehicles that bring us customers are not allowed to the CBD?” asked Njeri.

James Mwaniki who hawks sweets, biscuits, soda and water among other items at Kencom Bus Stop said being allowed to trade without vehicles coming to the city centre is of no benefit to him.

“Our business thrives because of these PSVs. We sell in the evening when people are going home from work,” he said.

Jane Nduta said it would be difficult for someone to buy her items and walk all the way to Ngara or Country bus station.

“It would have been better if they allowed us to sell freely without barring the vehicles getting to the CBD because these vehicles ferry people who are our customers,” she said.

But others like John Mburu said it’s a good idea since they are tired of running up and down being chased by the County Council askaris.

“I’m happy because we will sell our items without tension of someone running after us,” he said.

The Motorists Association of Kenya has strongly opposed the move to bar vehicles from accessing the CBD during the car free-days, saying that Nairobi does not qualify to have vehicle-free day due to lack of efficient public transport system.

Kenyans on social media have also reacted negatively, asking how the directive will be implemented without a proper public transport to get people to the city centre.

The Principal Secretary of Public Works Paul Maringa, said the move is aimed at turning urban environments into social spaces and also increase access to simple business people.

Maringa said they are hoping to bring on board about 100,000 traders during the two days.

He said trading will be expected to take place in clean environments, therefore they have partnered with some stakeholders from banking and insurance companies to provide easily assembled stores where goods will be sold from and can be dismantled in the evening.

He confirmed that over 5,000 easily assembled stores are ready for the piloting set for February 1.

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