- Sidi used to make between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 a day, until three years ago when the government decided to refurbish the park.
- She is among 500 traders involved in different types of business who were forced to make way the renovations but have since not been allowed back.
Asha Sidi, 38, can hardly provide for her three children nowadays.
She used to wake up at 5am, prepare breakfast for her children before taking them to school and then proceed to Mama Ngina to sell sodas, water and groundnuts among other things to people enjoying the park.
She used to make between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 a day until three years ago when the government decided to refurbish the park and rename it Mama Ngina Waterfront Park at a cost of Sh460 million.
They were kicked out of the park to pave way for the refurbishment but not before her name was taken and she was promised she would be the first to be considered when the new stalls would be ready at the refurbished park.
Add that to the Covid-19 pandemic that got into Kenya in March last year and life took a turn for the worse.
“To date, we have never been allowed to work there in peace. We have been on and off,” said a teary Sidi, who is now lucky to make Sh400 a day in profit.
She is among 500 traders involved in different businesses who were forced to make way for the renovations but have since not been allowed back.
The only time they are allowed to trade there is whenever a dignitary like Tourism CS Najib Balala or President Uhuru visits the park.
“Like when the President was going to Lamu to launch the Lamu Port, he passed through Mombasa after the launch and we were allowed inside the park for like three days,” said Mzee Mariga, the chairman of Mama Ngina Waterfront traders.
When Uhuru left Mombasa police descended on the traders and moved the out.
The last straw for the traders is the incomprehensible decision by the government to allow people to exercise in the park but still locks out traders.
“We got word that those rich men with lots of fat in their bodies can now come jog or cycle in the park. We are still waiting for permission to go trade in the park,” said Mariga.
The chairman on Monday said they cannot understand the criteria used to allow certain people to do business in the park.
“Florida Club is open for business. There are bars and restaurants allowed to operate in the park. Why can’t we be allowed to trade?” posed Mariga.
The park sits on about 26 acres of land.
"This is large enough to comfortably accommodate all the traders with social distancing being implemented," noted Salim Dzombo.
He is the chair of the Coconut, Cassava and Maize (Cocama) dealers at the park.
Dzombo, who has been trading at the park since 1987, used to make as much as Sh5,000 a day in the heydays.
Today, he wakes up in the morning and roams around looking for anything to do as they wait for word from the government about their fate.
“It would be a good Madaraka Day gift for us if the government allowed us back into the park to trade,” said Dzombo.