Sophie Njoka and Esther Nzuma
There were chaos in Mombasa yesterday after angry traders operating outside Kongowea market barricaded roads and lit bonfires protesting demolition of their structures.
The more than 3,000 traders were left counting losses after the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) demolished the structures, which are built on the road reserve, early in the morning.
The demolition exercise, which was done under the watch of heavily armed policemen, caught many traders by surprise and were unable to salvage their goods.
The traders barricaded the road using demolished structures to light the bonfires at the junction of Fidel Castro and Mombasa-Malindi roads.
For more than one hour, movement of vehicles from Mombasa island was paralysed with hundreds of motorists stranded at the Nyali Bridge.
Dozens of anti-riot police, who were deployed to clear the road fired in the air and lobbed tear gas canisters at the protesting traders.
The traders, who sell second- hand clothes, shoes and other commodities, claimed they had not been given a notice to vacate the area.
The demolition is meant to pave way for expansion of Mombasa-Malindi road.
Purity Wanjiru, who sells used clothes, said she lost property worth Sh2 million after a bulldozer pulled down her structures.
“I have been operating from here for more than 20 years, I have not saved anything from my business despite having taken loans to stock my business, we are not aware of what is going on,” she said.
Benson Musyoka, who sells second hand shoes, wondered why no local leader had come out to address the matter.
“We are only told that there was a notice which was given out four years ago, which they have used without even informing us to remove our wares instead of suffering losses amounting to millions,” he said.
“What next for me as a shoe seller and a youth? This is where I get money to pay my bills and currently I am servicing a loan worth Sh350,000 which I used to buy stock and my business was steadily picking pace.
How am I going to pay my loan now that I have no source of income?” posed Nagib Hassan, a trader.