Eastleigh hawkers held protests in the busy business district of Nairobi today, shutting down the streets.
The hawkers are protesting the destruction of their makeshift stalls by City Hall and the police, as earlier in the week, store owners in malls in the Eastleigh area closed their stores in protest against the hawkers.
The mall owners have been complaining about the hawkers affecting their businesses by blocking entrances and undercutting them even as they do not pay tax.
The mall owners protested at City Hall and demanded to be addressed by Governor Evans Kidero.
City Hall responded to the mall owners’ protest by demolishing the hawkers makeshift structures in an overnight operation.
Eastleigh Hawkers Association have accused the mall owners of insincerity and grabbing public land, leaving them with no space to operate from.
The associations chairman Jeff Oteba said ”they want front entrances cleared yet some of the malls are on service lanes where we could be stationed. It is not our wish.”
The hawkers claim the Towhed and Amall malls are built on service lanes, Social Hall Mall on public land and Mandera Mall on a sewer line. Oteba added that all the merchandise the hawkers sell in the area are bought from inside the malls. ”We drive this economy. It’s we who buy from them and hawk outside.”
The hawkers then vowed to stay put, saying that the temporal destruction of their structures was not going to deter them from going back to do business on the Eastleigh streets.
About 20,000 hawkers do business in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi.
Eastleigh, popularly called little Mogadishu because of its large Somali community, is one of the biggest trading centers in East Africa. There are more than 50 shopping malls there.