STALL OWNERS

Eastleigh traders to stop paying levies until hawkers are moved

Hawkers sell the same merchandise as the stall owners at throwaway prices since they do not spend on levies

In Summary

• Stall owners pay Sh246 million annually and Sh403 million monthly for rent and other services to City Hall

• Hawkers have been trading outside stalls and malls for close to five years and no action has been taken by the county government

Hawkers along Eastleigh's 1ss Aveneue on August 8, 2019
SHOPS BLOCKED: Hawkers along Eastleigh's 1ss Aveneue on August 8, 2019
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

Traders in Eastleigh have threatened to close businesses and stop paying levies to City Hall until hawkers trading outside their premises are removed.

The traders, under the Eastleigh Business District Association (EBDA), said hawkers block entrances to the premises.

On Thursday, EBDA secretary general Omar Hussein said hawkers have taken over Eastleigh, the whole of First Avenue up to Juja Road.

 
 

“Eastleigh has more than 56 malls with 22,000 stalls which employ 89,000 workers. They risk losing their jobs if the hawkers are allowed to stay put,” he said.

Hussein said the stall owners pay City Hall an average of Sh246 million annually in permits and licenses. They also pay Sh403 million monthly for rent and other services, yet the hawkers do not pay anything.

Hawkers have been trading outside stalls and malls for close to five years now and no action has been taken by the county government.

“The hawkers need to leave, or we close our businesses and refrain from paying levies to the county government of Nairobi until the situation is resolved,” Hussein said.

He said the hawkers sell the same merchandise as the stall owners at throwaway prices since they do not spend on levies.

“Since they block entrances to the mall and stalls, customers are unable to access us, and they end up buying their stuff at cheap prices. We suffer huge losses and this makes it difficult to make profits,” Hussein said.

Stall owner Ahmed Asmali said most hawkers were ejected from the Central Business District (CBD) and have now occupied Eastleigh pedestrian pathways.

 
 

“The stall owners had a meeting with officials from the county government, and we were assured that they will take action. We do not want confrontations like the one we had with the hawkers earlier this year, so we will wait and see the act,” he said.

Trader Ahmed Noor urged the county government to set a place for the hawkers to conduct their business because the area has turned chaotic.

“It is our plea that the county government immediately takes action on the hawkers because they are also a security threat to our premises and in case of emergency it would be difficult to find our a way out of the malls because they have blocked our entrances,” he said.

Back in 2016, the Eastleigh business community closed all major malls to protest an influx of hawkers along the streets.

They claimed there was a cartel collecting money and pledging to support the hawkers.

It was alleged that the group leaders had paid senior officers at City Hall to protect them.

However, City Hall denied the allegations, saying it’s officers only collect money from those who run genuine businesses, and they issue permits.

Former Trade executive Ann Othoro had said City Hall stopped the collection earlier this year and whoever is still collecting cash is doing so illegally.

In May 2017, hawkers in Eastleigh engaged police in running battles following a clash with mall owners.

In June 2018, Eastleigh businessmen complained of constant harassment and extortion by hawkers.