• The county government had a few days ago indicated it was planning to evict hawkers from the town.
• The governor said if hawkers break the rule, the time will be pushed to either 6.30pm or 7pm
Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi has ordered street hawkers in Thika town to be selling their wares from 6pm.
This is after the governor held a meeting with traders and hawkers in Thika town on Tuesday.
The county government had a few days ago indicated it was planning to evict hawkers from the town.
In a seven-day notice issued by Thika subcounty administrator John Mungai, the county government had said any hawkers found selling their wares along the streets and walkways would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Mungai noted that some of the hawkers were operating with impunity by trading their wares outside shops whose owners pay licenses.
Traders who own shops had complained of hawkers influx in the town, saying they were selling the same wares they sell right outside their shops and at throwaway prices despite traders paying licenses and rent.
But hawkers protested the move, saying should the county government fail to revoke its eviction intentions, they would hold a series of demonstrations starting Thursday this week to pressure Wamatangi to address the matter.
And in a move to resolve the issue, the county chief met with traders and hawkers and said no one would be kicked out of town.
However, he said proper plans will be laid out to ensure that all carry out their businesses without hurting each other's business.
After a heated session with the traders, Wamatangi ordered that the hawkers be trading their wares from 6pm in the evening to allow shop owners to conduct their businesses during the day.
"I order that the hawkers to be operating from 6pm in the evening for the next seven days after which we will review whether they are adhering to the orders. If they break the rule we will review the time to either 6.30pm or 7pm," the governor said.
"Our enforcement officers will work together with our police officers in Thika to ensure the hawkers comply."
The governor noted that the move will bring order to the town and at the same time accommodate everyone to eke out a living.
"We know hawkers have families to feed and rent to pay. On the other hand the shop owners have licenses and rent to pay and hence should be protected by the county government. This is why we must apply a wise balancing act so as not to hurt anyone's trade," Wamatangi said.
Earlier, traders led by Thika District Business Association chairman Alfred Wanyoike had suggested that the hawkers be allowed in town from 6.30pm while traders from Mukiriti market wanted the time pushed to 7pm.
Wamatangi, who was accompanied by Thika MP Alice Ng'ang'a and a host of MCAs, said his administration will be establishing a central place in the town where the hawkers will be operating from.
He explained to hawkers and traders that the reason the county administration was moving to make changes in the town's CBD was because of the imminent elevation of town to city status.
"We are on a transformation journey of Thika town to city status, hence the reason we are conducting a raft of changes and developments to actualise this dream," Wamatangi said.
He said markets including Mukiriti and Jamuhuri will be rehabilitated and upgraded to accommodate more traders and offer them a conducive working environment to decongest the CBD.
"We will mobilise resources so that we can modernise the markets to give traders and their customers a favourable environment," the governor said.
MP Ng'ang'a urged traders, especially hawkers, to form and register groups so they can benefit from the Hustlers Fund, which will be released soon, to boost their trade.
"This is a noble opportunity availed by the government and you should all seize it to grow your trade," she said.
Traders and hawkers agreed to work as per the agreed timelines. "We will observe the timelines for the sake of our trade and sanity in our town," hawker Isaac Mwangi said.
Edited by A.N