Wakulima market traders protest high levies, harassment

Irate Nairobi Wakulima Market traders yesterday took to the streets protesting high levies charged by the City Hall and harrassment by county askaris.

The traders, who converged at the market early in the morning, engaged police in running battles after county officials arrested their chair Cyrus Thuita.

They hurled stones and lit bonfires on the road, prompting police to lob tear gas canisters to disperse them.

Several people, including Starehe MP Charles Njagua, were injured in the ensuing melee while businesses around the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) building on Haile Selassie Avenue remained shut for the better part of  the day.

Njagua said the  protests will go on until the traders’ grievances are addressed.

A vegetable vendor Patrick Thuo, said the confrontation stemmed from constant harassment by county officials.

“County officials want us to bribe them failure to which they confiscate our goods. Sometimes it is not possible because we get our commodities through loans. We want the officials to stop intimidating us because we pay levies on time,” he said.

Another trader Amos Kanyi claimed some people want to evict them from the area.  “We duly pay cess and it is unfortunate for the police to attack us. They arrested some of our people, which provoked us. We demanded their release,” he said.

However, Central Police Station boss Robinson Ndung’u defended the police saying  police were on a mission to evict   hawkers from the central business district.

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