Kinyuru Munuhe and Seth Mwaniki
Heavily armed police backed up by the Nairobi County government inspectorate officers yesterday laid out a security cordon to bar hawkers and boda boda operators from the Nairobi Central Business District.
Effectively, the city was largely clear of hundreds of roadside vendors and swam motor cyclists who regrouped to Ngara area and at Machakos Country Bus in Nairobi.
“Today we have an operation as directed by the Regional Co-ordinator to clean up the city and restore order. The hawkers, unauthorised motorcyclists and those holding idle gatherings will not be allowed,” Central Divisional commander Robinson Thuku said.
“We pay licences to the county government daily. This is a sad move by the administration. Why should they collect daily levies if we get to the city centre illegally?” Gladys Mumbi, a hawker posed.
At the same time, a section of City Hall officials were tasked to audit all bus stops and passenger picking and dropping points to establish unlicenced ones.
The far-reaching resolution to have hawkers and boda boda operators pushed out of the city was made by the Nairobi Regional Security Committee chaired by Nairobi regional co-ordinator Kang’ethe Thuku.
An assessment of security status linked the activities by hawkers and boda boda alongside illegal bus stop to human congestion that has triggered insecurity notably cases of muggings, assault and stealing.
The ongoing crackdown is part of the operation dubbed ‘Mulika mooted to restore sanity within the capital. The operation will continue as planned until sanity is fully restored,” Thuku added.
Police officers especially the anti-mugging squad is treating cases of muggings as robbery with violence because the attackers are always armed with knives and other crude weapons. By yesterday evening, People Daily established hawkers are seeking to petition Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko for them to be allowed back although security agencies have profiled the status quo as dangerous to human safety.
In Nyeri, hundreds of hawkers supported a draft bill by Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria that seeks to decriminalise hawking business in the country.
Led by their chair Maina Kamami, the hawkers termed the proposed legislation by the governor a godsend saying their suffering as hawkers could come to an end.
The hawkers urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to rally all Jubilee MPs to support the bill once tabled in Parliament in order to grant them space to operate without being harassed by law enforcers.
“We have lived for a long time fighting for recognition. Time has come for us to settle this once and for all when this bill is passed to law,” he said.